‘THE CELESTIAL TOYMAKER’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Celestial Toymaker with the First Doctor, Steven and Dodo
It’s time to play some games!
‘The Celestial Toymaker’ is a four-part story from Season 3 of the classic ‘Doctor Who’ TV series, starring William Hartnell as the Doctor. It’s a pretty surreal adventure where the Doctor and his friends are caught in the games of the sinister Toymaker who wants to keep them forever and ever.
Sadly this four-part story is mostly missing from the BBC Archives. The only episode to survive in existence is the fourth episode which can be found on the ‘Lost in Time’ DVD. You can hear ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ TV soundtrack via a CD or a download in ‘The Lost TV Episodes: Collection Two’.
This story had a troubled process in terms of its writing. It was originally conceived by Brian Hayles who would make his first contribution to the TV series. He would later create the Ice Warriors in ‘Doctor Who’. But for whatever reason, Brian Hayles wasn’t able to finish the tale’s writing as hoped.
Therefore, as a final contribution as script-editor to the series, Donald Tosh wrote the story himself before giving it over to his successor Gerry Davis. Gerry Davis then rewrote ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ from scratch, much to the dismay of Donald Tosh who wasn’t informed of these changes.
The final result is a whimsical adventure full of childlike elements involving clowns, dolls, toys, games and a mandarin villain in the form of the Celestial Toymaker. It’s pretty enjoyable to watch from its surviving episode as well as to listen from its TV audio soundtrack. It’s also a very unique adventure.
Nothing like this had been done before in ‘Doctor Who’. Originally the story was meant to be about playing with people’s minds before it became the Doctor and his friends playing games for their lives against the Toymaker. It predates surreal TV tales like ‘The Mind Robber’, ‘Kinda’, ‘Snakedance’, etc.
The story features Michael Gough in the villainous role of the Celestial Toymaker. Michael Gough steals the show as the Toymaker. Although he doesn’t have as much screen-time in the story, his sinister presence was felt throughout. I enjoyed it when he and William Hartnell shared scenes in this.
Michael Gough would later guest star in the ‘Doctor Who’ story, ‘Arc of Infinity’, with Peter Davison and he would later play Alfred Pennyworth in the original ‘Batman’ film series. It also turns out that he was married to future ‘Doctor Who’ companion, Anneke Wills, at the time of this story’s making.
It’s interesting that the Doctor knows who the Toymaker is as he’s encountered him before. This is unlike the Doctor’s first encounter with ‘The Daleks’ where he hadn’t met them before. Yet it’s very like the Doctor’s encounter with the Monk during ‘The Time Meddler’ where he had met him before.
The Toymaker is obsessed with playing games. He’s an amoral figure who wishes the Doctor and his companions to be his playthings and never let them escape. The Doctor and his friends have to play these games in order to get out alive and return to the TARDIS. Sometimes it isn’t altogether so easy.
The Doctor has to play the Trilogic game, a ten-piece puzzle, sometimes being invisible and having his voice taken away by the Toymaker. Steven and Dodo have to play their own set of games in order to get back to the TARDIS and reunite with the Doctor. Some of these games are not played so fairly.
This story was also an excuse to give William Hartnell a two-week holiday. During the making of the story, William Hartnell pre-recorded his lines before being absent in the second and third episodes. Hence why he is invisible for most of this story and why he had his voice removed by the Toymaker.
There was a speculation that William Hartnell would be replaced by a different actor during the making of this story to give the actor a chance to leave after working so furiously hard on the series. Thankfully that did not happen and we wouldn’t have had the concept of regeneration if it ever did.
I enjoyed Peter Purves as Steven and Jackie Lane as Dodo playing their games in the story. In each of the four episodes of the story, they play four different games. These include Blind Man’s Bluff; the Hall of Dolls, the Dancing Floor and TARDIS Hopscotch. These games sound so complicated on audio. 😀
I also like how Steven and Dodo share their camaraderie with each other. It seems that Steven and Dodo have been friends for a very long time. It’s sometimes a brother-sister relationship, especially as Dodo can be quite cheeky and naive at times whereas Steven is cautious despite being so fearless.
The two companions have opponents to contend with in these games. These includes clowns in the first game; playing cards in the second game; two children’s book characters in the third game and a Billy Bunter character in the fourth game. Sometimes these characters don’t play fairly in the games.
Carmen Silvera guest stars as a number of characters in this story. These include Clara the clown; the Queen of Hearts and Mrs. Wiggs. Carmen Silvera is well-known for playing Edith Artois in ‘Allo, ‘Allo!’ She was also in ‘Mum’s Army’ in ‘Dad’s Army’ and would later appear in ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’.
There’s also Campbell Singer as Joey the clown; the King of Hearts and Sergeant Rugg. Campbell Singer also appeared in a few episodes of ‘Dad’s Army’ as well as in an episode of ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Them’. His interaction with Carmen Silvera in this story has been a joy to listen to on the audio.
There’s Peter Stephens as the Knave of Hearts, the Kitchen Boy and Cyril. His appearance as Cyril caused a controversy since the character during the fourth episode was a lot like Billy Bunter. But it later got pointed out that Cyril was supposed to be ‘like’ Billy Bunter and not actually be Billy Bunter.
There’s also Reg Lever as the Joker and Beryl Braham, Ann Harrison and Delia Lindon who played the Ballerina dolls in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. Albert Ward provided William Hartnell’s hand when the Doctor is made invisible by the Toymaker. It’s a shame Bill Hartnell didn’t appear in the whole story.
From watching the surviving fourth episode of this story as well as listening to the whole TV soundtrack on audio, it seemed impossible that the Doctor and his friends would escape the Toymaker’s realm. Every time the Doctor’s companions won, they came to a TARDIS that was a fake.
Every time a fake TARDIS turned out to be a cupboard instead of the real thing, Steven and Dodo find a clue which helps them in order to win the next game. Thankfully the TARDIS at the end of the fourth episode is the genuine article, although getting out of the Toymaker’s realm is still so difficult.
I like it when the Doctor works it out with Steven and Dodo’s help to outwit the Toymaker before they leave in the TARDIS. The Doctor has to make his final move on the Trilogic game he’s been playing. But the Doctor tricks the Toymaker by mimicking his voice so that the villain can fade and the TARDIS leaves.
If you have the ‘Lost in Time’ DVD, there’s an audiobook trailer on Disc 1 for the missing episode stories of ‘Doctor Who’ on audiobook CDs. There’s also a documentary on Disc 3 called ‘The Missing Years’ which looks into the missing episodes of ‘Doctor Who’, presented by Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling.
‘The Celestial Toymaker’ is a very enjoyable story from the William Hartnell era of ‘Doctor Who’. Despite a troubled writing process, this story turned out to be a pretty memorable tale full of whimsy and surreal style. Michael Gough steals the show in his famous villainous ‘Doctor Who’ role.
After this story, the Celestial Toymaker went on to appear in more stories. These include ‘Divided Loyalties’ with the Fifth Doctor, ‘The Nightmare Fair’ with the Sixth Doctor and ‘Endgame’ with the Eighth Doctor. I hope one day the other missing episodes of ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ will get found.
‘The Celestial Toymaker’ rating – 7/10
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