Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Doctor Who: The Celestial Toymaker Review


SYNOPSIS

The TARDIS crew arrive in a strange fantasy world controlled by the Celestial Toymaker - an omnipotent and immortal being who has waited to meet the Doctor again "for a long time." The Toymaker confiscates the TARDIS and forces the 
Doctor to play the Trilogic game. Meanwhile, Steven (Peter Purves) and Dodo (Jackie Lane) have to complete a series of deadly games, and if they fail, they'll
be condemned to an eternity as the Toymaker's playthings.
The Doctor finally overcomes the Toymaker by imitating his voice to finish the 
game (on the 1,023rd turn) from within the TARDIS, which dematerialises just 
as the Toymaker's realm is destroyed.
Michael Gough (1916-2011) gives a superbly sinister performance as the 
Toymaker, contrasting the apparent childish friendliness of his creations.

BACKGROUND

Season three serial The Celestial Toymaker was first broadcast fifty years ago 
this month, from April 2 to 23 1966, and was director Bill Sellars only work
on the show.
  • This was the first script from writer Brian Hayles, and had the working titles of The Toymaker and The Trilogic Game
  • The story was originally based on the play, George and Margaret (1937) by then BBC Head of Serials, Gerald Savory, but the author objected to the use of his characters, so the script were reworked twice, by out-going and incoming story editors, Donald Tosh and Gerry Davis
  • The Doctor is rendered invisible and dumb for episodes two and three - when William Hartnell took a holiday - departing producer John Wiles had even considered simply replacing Hartnell by having the Toymaker restore the Doctor in a different body, but was vetoed by Savory
  • An announcement at the end of part four clarified that the rotund schoolboy character Cyril (Peter Stephens), was not based on fat, Greyfriars pupil Billy Bunter (played by Gerald Campion between 1952 to 1961, who had worked with Hartnell in Carry On Sergeant in 1958, and would later appear in Shada) - the disclaimer merely stated that he was "Bunter-like"
  • The return of the Toymaker was planned for the ultimately cancelled twenty-third season - written by Graham WilliamsThe Nightmare Fair (novelised in 1989) sees the Sixth Doctor and Peri encounter the Toymaker (to have been reprised by Gough) in Blackpool's video-game arcades - the script was finally adapted by Big Finish for The Lost Stories (2009), and now starred David Bailie as the Toymaker
  • Big Finish's The Magic Mousetrap (2009) and Solitaire (2010) also feature the Toymaker
  • Episodes one to three - entitled The Celestial ToyroomThe Hall of Dolls, and The Dancing Floor - are all missing from the BBC archives
  • The fourth installment, The Final Test, was first released on The Hartnell Years video (1991), and is still available on the Lost In Time DVD (2004)
  • The 2001 soundtrack CD - with linking narration from Purves - was reissued in 2011 (a rhyme recited in the second episode was masked to avoid the use of the word "nigger")

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