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28 October 2014

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The Celestial Toymaker

Production Code: Y

First Transmitted

The Celestial Toyroom - 02/04/1966 17:50

The Hall of Dolls - 09/04/1966 17:50

The Dancing Floor - 16/04/1966 17:50

The Final Test - 23/04/1966 17:50

Plot

The travellers arrive in a strange domain presided over by the Celestial Toymaker - an enigmatic, immortal entity who forces them to play a series of games, failure at which will render them his playthings. The Doctor has to solve the complex Trilogic game while Steven and Dodo are faced with defeating a succession of apparently child-like but potentially lethal animated toys in contests such as 'blind man's buff', musical chairs and 'hunt the key'.

The Doctor finally overcomes the Toymaker by imitating his voice in order to complete the Trilogic game from within the TARDIS, which then dematerialises as his foe's universe is destroyed.

Episode Endings

The Doctor has passed move 350 in the Trilogic game. Meanwhile Dodo and Steven have discovered a riddle set by the Toymaker: 'Four legs, no feet; Of arms no lack; It carries no burden on its back; Six deadly sisters, seven for choice; Call the servants without voice.'

The Doctor has passed move 700 in the Trilogic game. Steven and Dodo, being pursued by three life-sized ballerina dolls, have another riddle to solve: 'Hunt the key, to fit the door; That leads out on the dancing floor. Then escape the rhythmic beat; Or you'll forever tap your feet.'

The Doctor has reached move 902. Cyril meanwhile leads Steven and Dodo to their next game, and warns them that they will not find it so easy this time - because they will be playing against him. The Doctor continues the Trilogic game: 'Lady luck will show the way; Win the game, or here you'll stay.'

With the TARDIS in flight once more, the Doctor takes from Dodo the sweets that Cyril gave to her and pops one of them in his mouth. Suddenly he cries out and doubles up in pain, dropping the bag of sweets to the floor...

Roots

The works of Lewis Carroll.

Cyril is inspired by the Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist and Billy Bunter (costume and performance).

Joey's use of a horn to communicate is reminiscent of Harpo Marx.

The Love for the Three Oranges.

Dialogue Triumphs

Toymaker : "The last time you were here I hoped you'd stay long enough for a game, but you hardly had time to turn around."

The Doctor : "And very wise I was, too."

Toymaker : "I'm bored. I love to play games but there's no-one to play against. The beings who call here have no minds, and so they become my toys. But you will become my perpetual opponent. We shall play endless games together, your brain against mine."

Toymaker : "Make your last move, Doctor. Make your move."

The Doctor : "But if I do, this place vanishes, hm?"

Toymaker : "And then you have won completely."

The Doctor : " And if this place vanishes, then the TARDIS and the rest of us will vanish also?"

Toymaker : "Correct. That is the price of success. Make your last move, Doctor. Make your last move."

Double Entendre

Steven : "I'm going to see if there's an invisible barrier around his backside."

Continuity

The Celestial Toymaker is a powerful, evil immortal who kidnaps others to play his 'quite notorious' deadly games. For his part, the Toymaker has been waiting for the Doctor 'for a long time'. Occasionally individuals beat the Toymaker, but this tends to lead to both their destruction and that of the Toymaker's current world.

The Toymaker says that he is bored with this world anyway and wants to create another [He could be an Eternal, since he seems to depend so much on Ephemerals (see Enlightenment).] Alternatively, his domain could be another aspect of the Land of Fiction (The Mind Robber), or he may be one of the Gods of Ragnarok (The Greatest Show in the Galaxy), or Fenric who played games with the Doctor long ago (The Curse of Fenric). Dodo mentions (and sees) the death of her mother.

QV

The TARDIS Scanner

Location

The domain of the Celestial Toymaker.

Links

Untelevised

The Doctor's first meeting with the Toymaker.

Trivia

Peter Stephens' portrayal of Cyril is very much in the style of the popular Billy Bunter character created by Frank Richards. This reportedly brought a complaint from Richards' representatives, and the BBC transmitted a voice-over announcement following the story's last episode disclaiming any intentional similarity between characters in the story and existing fictional characters.

Fashion Victim

Steven in hoops.

Dodo (with Bob Dylan cap) in circles.

Cast & Crew

Cast

The Doctor - William Hartnell

Dodo - Jackie Lane

Steven Taylor - Peter Purves

Clara - Carmen Silvera

Dancer - Beryl Braham

Dancer - Ann Harrison

Dancer - Delia Lindon

Joey - Campbell Singer

Joker - Reg Lever

King of Hearts - Campbell Singer

Kitchen Boy/Cyril - Peter Stephens

Knave of Hearts - Peter Stephens

Mrs Wiggs - Carmen Silvera

Queen of Hearts - Carmen Silvera

Sergeant Rugg - Campbell Singer

Toymaker - Michael Gough

Crew

Director - Bill Sellars

Assistant Floor Manager - Elisabeth Dunbar

Choreographer - Tutte Lemkow

Costumes - Daphne Dare

Designer - John Wood

Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson

Make-Up - Sonia Markham

Producer - Innes Lloyd

Production Assistant - Snowy White

Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson

Story Editor - Gerry Davis

Studio Lighting - Frank Cresswell

Studio Sound - Alan Fogg

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Delia Derbyshire

Writer - Brian Hayles scripts by Donald Tosh

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'You need me?' 'Yes, I'm bored I love to play games, but there's no one to play against... But you will become my perpetual opponent. We shall play endless games together, your brain against mine.' Doctor Who's first stab at surrealism is an unqualified success, taking the symbols of childhood and turning them into a nightmarish prototype of The Crystal Maze.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

Much of Doctor Who could arguably be more appropriately classified as science-fantasy than as science-fiction, but every so often there would come along a story that ventured an unusually long way in that direction. The Celestial Toymaker was the first of these forays into the realms of pure fantasy - and, as would be borne out by reactions to later stories in a similar vein, it seems that fans of the series were much better disposed to this departure from the norm than were members of the general viewing public. The opinions of the latter were recorded in the BBC's Audience Research Report on the closing episode, The Final Test:

'The final instalment of the story of The Celestial Toymaker had little appeal for a large proportion of the sample, over a third of whom actually disliked it: they found nothing very exciting in the closing moves of the game between Doctor Who and the Toymaker (a handful remarking that they knew all along that Doctor Who would get out of this "impossible" situation "with absurdly impossible ease"), or in the game that Steven and Dodo played with the doll, Cyril.

'There was not enough action, according to a sizeable group who obviously soon got tired of watching their leaps from triangle to triangle, and of Cyril's "very predictable" attempts to cheat; some, too, protested that the acting was either "ham" or under-rehearsed. A considerable number, however, took a very different view, declaring that the cast's performance (especially that of Michael Gough as the Toymaker) was the redeeming feature of the episode, and many of them also praised the imaginative production...

'The sample was asked to comment on The Celestial Toymaker adventure as a whole, and from their replies it was clear that many of them did not care for this adventure into the realm of "fantasy gone mad"; it was too far removed from the original conception of Doctor Who's travels through space and time, they claimed, and there was widespread support for the viewer who declared, "We can accept adventure into space, yes; back into history and even pre-history, yes; but this dabbling in pure whimsy, no". The games were very difficult for children to understand, it was sometimes said, especially as the rules were not clearly explained at the outset and the dolls' persistent cheating made them all the more confusing: there was nothing mysterious or thrilling about this "drawn-out series of glorified Snakes and Ladders", it seems, and a substantial minority dismissed it as "ridiculous rubbish"; in their view it was a complete waste of time and talent, and it was suggested (not infrequently) that it was time the series was rested as "ideas are evidently running out".

'Nevertheless, although some reporting viewers disliked it themselves, they were often at pains to point out that their children had enjoyed it, and there were also some who found it a welcome change from "the more usual horrors like Daleks and monsters": the battle of wits had been well maintained throughout the four episodes, it was claimed, but few went so far as to agree that "this adventure seemed fresher and more credible than previous ones".'

Fan reviews of The Celestial Toymaker present such a marked contrast to this more general reaction that it is sometimes difficult to believe that they are considering the same production. 'This was one of the weirdest, cleverest and most successful Doctor Who stories ever,' enthused John Peel in Fantasy Empire Issue 4 in 1982. 'Its ingenious blend of childishness and death-traps, the stunning villain and the wonderful plot gave us a rare treat, a blend of magical qualities.'

Similarly, while acknowledging that there were some flaws, John Binns, writing in Matrix Issue 45, dated spring 1993, asserted: 'In some ways the story is a masterpiece. Particularly in the first episode, there is an excellent sinister feel to it which is heightened considerably by Michael Gough's superb performance. A clever contrast is created between the brutality of the Toymaker's games [and] the deceptive friendliness of the clowns, and the other characters...'

A fair assessment arguably lies somewhere between these two extremes of opinion. The story's underlying concept - that of a deceptively welcoming domain presided over by a god-like being who engages visitors in a series of potentially lethal games in order to relieve the boredom of his immortal existence - is undoubtedly an intriguing one; and for the most part, as Trevor Wayne noted in Doctor Who - An Adventure in Space and Time in 1982, the production succeeds in achieving an effective blend of the childlike and the macabre: 'The curiously surreal, yet obviously studio, sets work extremely well, coupled with a rapid direction that give one little impression of the size or shape of the Toymaker's dimension... In the realm of the Toymaker simple games like "blind man's buff" and hopscotch... take on a completely different and deadly twist for Steven and Dodo, because their props are potentially deadly chairs and electrified floors.'

There are, however, parts of the story during which the action unquestionably flags; and, as suggested by the opinions recorded in the Audience Research Report, the games that Steven and Dodo are forced to play are rather less than thrilling in themselves and tend to be unduly protracted, testing the viewer's patience. Nevertheless, the differing reactions of the two companions to the toy opponents that they come up against constitute one of the story's most interesting elements. 'Steven sees all his opponents as extensions of the Toymaker himself,' noted Wayne. 'They are all the same to him... Dodo realises that the toys, too, are victims, but her generous nature almost blinds her to the fact that these people... are shot through with... [the Toymaker's] personality which has overwhelmed their own.'

One aspect of the story that has always attracted almost universal praise - even in the Audience Research Report - is Michael Gough's wonderful performance as the Toymaker. 'It is [this] that sustains the atmosphere of threat through the latter three episodes,' asserted Binns, 'and particularly part three where the Doctor has been made invisible, intangible and mute... Indeed, it's a pity that he isn't used more in the story... Gough really comes across as a powerful being, limited by nothing but his own whim and equal, if not superior, to the Doctor.' This excellent character is, arguably, The Celestial Toymaker's greatest legacy to the Doctor Who universe.

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This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.



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