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Doctor Who story number 23

Brian Hayles apparently submitted several scripts to Doctor Who, but this is the only one that ever got used. It had heavy editing from departing script editor Donald Tosh and arriving editor Gerry Davis because Hayles was very busy with another show, but he gave his full consent to their rewrites, and was fine with his name being shown as "based on an idea by Brian Hayles". The producer, John Wiles, and the director, Bill Sellars, also got involved in working with the scripts. This is unusual, but The Ark had gone way over budget and so there would be cutbacks to later stories (surprising, they all look great in the stills).

This story has the last parts of the Wiles and Tosh anti-Hartnell campaign, with the Doctor made invisible for most of the story and only heard it was even hoped they could have him made visible again as a different actor. Hartnell's health impacted his work more and more, on top of him not getting on with the pair. He wasn't that great to work with, but he was also insistent that the show be kept as a children's show, which would have stifled it. I think we can all be grateful that this change didn't happen though, as it's just silly. The story was also filmed around Hartnell's vacation, so in one episode the Doctor is invisible, apart from a hand, and mute as well.

The head of serials, Gerald Savoy, was also author of the play George and Margaret, and Tosh wanted to use the characters. Savoy withdrew permission halfway through scripting (he didn't want them to be in a children's show), and so the characters were changed by Gerry Davis, who had to rewrite the scripts at a rate of one episode per day. Donald Tosh wasn't too pleased to come back form holiday and find a lot of the menace taken out of the story - the idea had been to make the story primarily a battle of wills between the Toymaker and the Doctor, but the focus changed. There was a lot of regret all around for this story, though it is recalled by fans who saw it as being one of the better stories - probably because it's just so macabre.

The silliest thing to come out of this all was the character Cyril, who is a copy in all but name (and there's a line suggesting they call him Billy) of Frank Richards' Billy Bunter. The representatives of the authors estate called up the BBC after seeing episode three and so a continuity announcement had to be made before episode four exaplaining that Cyril really wasn't Billy Bunter.

Peter Purves, who playes Steven, is on record as saying this was his favourite story, which isn't surprising since he gets the majority of the lines and the focus is largely on him and Jackie Lane. It's also really weird so it would certainly stick in the mind more than anything else. He was given the trilogic game when he left the series, but he threw it away, claiming it was bringing him bad luck. His getting work afterwards was probably a coincidence. Actors, eh?

The Celestial Toymaker was to come back in the 80's called The Nightmare Fair, but the story never got past being made into a script. The general plot involves insidious evil at a funfair at Blackpool and trying to entrap mankind with a video game, and also gives a bit of background for the Toymaker. Personally I think he's better as an enigma with no background. The novel (by Gareth Williams) was published, though it might be hard to find now.

Only the final episode remains, but the audio track has been released with linking narration by Peter Purves (again). It's probably the worst audio track as so much of the story depends on seeing what's going on, but the verbal sparring between the characters is probably worth a listen for avid fans who can picture the action. A clip from the final episode showing the disembodied hand and the timelapse photography for advancing the game, and a conversation from episode one between the Toymaker and the Doctor can be found here:

As with the other missing episodes the script is available for you to read here:

Brian Hayles, Gerry Davis (uncredited) and Donald Tosh (uncredited)

This story has 4 episodes with individual titles:

  • The Celestial Toyroom
  • The Hall of Dolls
  • The Dancing Floor
  • The Final Test

Plot Overview
The TARDIS materialises and aparrently the gravitational stabilizer hads rectified itself. I didn't know it was broken. Didn't the Doctor turn invisible last week? I guess we'll have to wait and see. Meanwhile Steven is perving at Dodo in her mini-dress, so they don't see the Doctor dissapear when he sneezes. He doesn't beleive them at first but soon does, and says they are under attack from a powerful being (all caught up now).

Outside the TARDIS we can see the ship has materialised in the center of an octagonal room, with lines radiating out from the middle to the corners. Behind the TARDIS is a wooden cupboard. The Doctor has turned on the scanner and it shows nothing, but it's working. Dodo suggests leaving but he can't operate the controls - he's intangible as well as invisible. He's also creeping out the others since they can't figure out where he's standing. Steven offers to operate the controls, but the Doctor wants his body back and tells him to open the doors. After he leaves Steven says it must be force of habit making the Doctor walk through open doors....

Meanwhile the Celestial Toymaker is in his study, which has no roof. It's simply open to the emptiness of space, with the walls fading into black as they go higher. The furniture is all antique and he has all manner of games and toys around the room, along with a collection of clocks. The Toymaker himself seems to favour dressing as a mandarin, at least this time.... He selects two clown dolls and puts them on the floor, where they grow into full sized people. He already knows the names of Steven and Dodo....

Back in the octagon room the Doctor reappears, and Dodo wants to go, but he would rather stay and see what's going on - the room feels familiar to him. Steve starts seeing himself on the walls, and the Doctor knows where they are now. He tells them that the Celestial Toymaker is a powerful being who likes to manipulate people, the screens are one of his tricks and they must not watch. The Toymaker appears and makes the TARDIS vanish, and then produces hundreds of them, so they cannot leave until they have played his games. The Toymaker disappears with the Doctor, and leaves Steven and Dodo look in the cupboard and the clowns come out. They aren't just normal clowns but they mime too, and Steven doesn't like it, so they mess with him using clown tricks. Dodo thinks this is funny until they clown her up good.

The Toymaker appears and tells them they have to play a game, and they must win all their games before the Doctor wins his. If they lose they join his collection of toys, and they get to play blind man's bluff with such fun things as pits of spikes. In the study the Doctor is looking at the toymaker's collection of high tech toys - real nuclear submarines and missiles among other things - you know, all the stuff kids really want. The Toymaker returns, and tells the Doctor how pleased he is to see him again. He tricks the Doctor into playing the "trilogic" game - the Tower of Hanoi - by inferring the Doctor's mind is slipping in his old age. The Toymaker wants the Doctor to lose so he can keep him forever as a worthy opponent, and failing to move the stack of discs in 1023 moves will be failure - and the Doctor is having to watch his friends on a screen while he tries to move the stack with no mistakes....

The clowns have names now, Clara and Joey, and Joey is going to do the obstacle course first - obviously blind man's bluff wasn't dangerous enough so now it's a weird obstacle course Steven and the clown have to do it blindfolded while guided by buzzer noises. The Doctor tries to warn Dodo and Steven about the game on an intercom but the Toymaker returns and makes him intangible apart from one hand to play the game with, and then uses a high pitched voice to order the game from position 110 to 152 (remember, Steven and Dodo must win before the Doctor). When Steven tries the game the clowns move the obstacles - and Dodo is stuck in the soundproof booth with only some noises to direct him while the obstacles are moved as he reaches them. Joey moves the end of a tube around so Steven comes out at the start of the course again. When Steven removes his blindfold the clowns say they have won, but Steven finds the other blindfold, and it's transparent, so he forces the clowns to play again fairly, and Joey makes a mistake and they both collapse. The TARDIS appears, but it's really just a shell with a riddle on the floor - "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." - and a door leading to another room, with the number 415 on it.

The door is covered with bolts and locks they have to undo, all to waste their time. Inside is a throne room with three chairs in it (this bit is very vague in the script). In the study the Doctor's disembodied hand is still working on the trilogic game, and he's confident that his friends can cope - until he sees where they are. He tries to call out but the Toymaker cuts the intercom and makes him mute until he reaches the second to last move of the game - and advances it to move 444. The Toymaker picks up a deck of cards and teleports into the throne room, berates Steven and Dodo and leaves, and in come the King and Queen of Hearts. They call to the Knave of Hearts (who is called Cyril by the Queen) and the Joker (a miserable jester tormented by the Knave). The cards are keen to look for a throne, while Steven and Dodo have no idea what to do and wander around ignoring the cards. In an adjoining room are four cupboards made of police box doors and four chairs - the riddle mentions "six deadly sisters, seven for choice" and so Steven thinks six of the seats must be deadly.

Three of the cupboards contain life-size dolls, six female and one male, and they pull four out. Dodo and Steven are going to test the chairs with the dolls, and then the King and Queen come in. Dodo talks to them and is told they are victims, not creations, of the Toymaker (We never find out if this is true). Steven realises they think there's only four dolls, so he and Dodo take two dolls to the other room to test the chairs there, leaving the King and Queen to try in the cupboard room (one chair locks a doll in place and vibrates it to peices). In the main room (with the other two cards asleep) Dodo throws a doll onto a chair and it's electrocuted, and the Knave wakes and runs off. A blade slices Steven's doll in half Temple of Doom style, but they can't go for the other dolls - the others will see.

The King tries to get the Knave to sit in a chair but he doesn't fall for it, so they try the last doll and it simply fades away. Out of dolls the King decides to use the Joker to test a chair. Steven sends Dodo to get the other dolls and test the chairs in the other room. He blocks the other chair, and then Dodo returns - the other cupboard is locked and she unthinkingly says so out loud. The cards are outraged (though the Joker has no idea what is going on) and go back to the cupboard room. Distraught, Dodo decides to test the chair herself and is held in place by a force field and starts to freeze. Steven manages to pull her off though, so that was pointless. Meanwhile the King and Queen can't convince the Joker or Knave to sit in a chair so they decide to do so together, so if they are wrong they die together (not to mention neither one trusts the other to not cheat the coin toss). The chair collapses and traps them, so when Steven and Dodo come in they get to pick the winning chair. The fourth cupboard comes out of the walls and is a police box - just a police box. When Steven answers the phone the Toymaker tells him to "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." Steven heads down the passage and Dodo waits to try to call the dolls again (they thought the dolls were the "servants without voice" and tried making them do stuff) but nothing happens. As she leaves the last dolls come to life....

Steven reaches a door but can't open it, and Dodo rushes up, scared of the dolls ("We called them" she says - hah!). The dolls just block the passage and Steven and Dodo back up against the door which opens into a Victorian kitchen. Inside are Sergeant Rugg and Mrs Wiggs, a soldier from the Napoleonic Wars and a Victorian cook. Dodo asks them for help with the riddle and Mrs. Wiggs freely tells them where the door to the dancing floor is, but they can't open it. Steven is getting really cranky now and doesn't like Rugg, but the Sergeant explains to Dodo that they have to find the key (duh). Back in the study the Doctor has stopped playing altogether, and the Toymaker punishes him by advancing the game to first move 770 and then move 813.

Dodo finds the sleeping kitchen boy, who looks just like the Knave of Hearts, and then uses her feminine wiles to get the Sergeant to help them look. Mrs. Wiggs gets jealous but doesn't obstruction them, but she gets very vocal when Steven crawls under the table while she's sitting there - and downright angry when the Sergeant starts breaking her china, and so he breaks more. the argument degenerates into a food fight and a screaming match, and Dodo gets all upset about it (the little homewrecker). The kitchen boy hides in the pantry and Mrs Wiggs beats the Sergeant with a broom (this would never get on TV today). Sergeant Rugg threatens to destroy The Pie and Mrs. Wiggs flips her.... wig. Steven suddently realises that it's the only thing she's really tried to save and they grab it and find the key and escape. The Toymaker appears and tells off his two creations for messing up the kitchen and tells them to get out onto the dancefloor and boogie. Er, I mean stop Steven and Dodo.

The dance floor is an elegant ballroom, with the three remaining dolls dancing and the TARDIS on the other side. The dolls stop, and Steven cautiously sticks his hand ove the dance floor - a waltz starts and stops again when he pulls his hand back. So far so good. Sgt. Rugg and Mrs. Wiggs arrive and then Steven tries to cross the floor, and suddenly starts dancing out of control, unable to get off the floor with the dolls closing in.... One of the ballerinas grabs Steven and dances with him, and he can't get away - or take the lead. Dodo gets caught when she tries to cross the floor, and Mrs. Wiggs joins in, so that's three players and three dolls paired off. When the Sergeant tries to get to the TARDIS he has to dance as well, and the partner change leaves Steven without a partner so he makes to the TARDIS and gets in, and conveniently Dodo manages to dance over and get away from her partner and get inside too. Only it's just a police box.

Dodo realises that the creations of the Toymaker have a will of their own, and Steven thinks shes going nuts. Back on the Toymaker's study he's getting rather annoyed and throws the dolls and playing cards to the floor. Saying "You're all too human, too kind. I must find a more deadly character." he goes and gets a doll of a schoolboy (think about it for a minute) - and the Doctor is up to move 900. Steven finds a scrap of paper - "Lady Luck will show the way, win the game or here you'll stay." - and a secret door in the police box, and they head along a coridoor and find a schoolboy, wearing the Joker's hat, which he swaps for the kitchen boys hat, and then a school cap. He tells them he is Cyril, and shakes Stevens hand, shocking him with a joy buzzer. Dodo accepts some candy from him (a plot device for the link to the next story) and they go to play the next game.

The game is TARDIS hopscotch, which is a silly game involving dice to move and 14 triangles to stand on - they have to jump from triangle to triangle because the rest of the floor is electrified. Back in the study the Toymaker winds the game on from move 905 to move 930 to make the Doctor hurry up. Steven and Dodo make their move, and Cyril tells them that if a player lands on an occupied space the first person who was there goes back to the start (hey wait a minute, where are they throwing the dice?). Dodo lands on Steven's space and he has to go back to the start and miss a turn. Meanwhile the Toymaker gives the Doctor his voice back, and the first thing he does is snap at the Toymaker. Steven gets sick of the game and just goes for the TARDIS but the Toymaker blocks him with a force field that only lets people playing by the rules past, so they have to keep putting up wih various annoyances you'd expect from a schoolboy - slingshots, attempts to scare Dodo (who as a teenage girl in a TV show screams at anything), South Park quotes.... And the Toymaker has advanced the Doctors game to move 1000.

Cyril slicks up a square with powder but then has to go back a few places. He fakes being hurt and wussy Dodo goes to help him and gets sent to the start. Cyril gleefully jumps ahead and lands on his own trap, falls and electrocutes himself. Dodo rolls a four and makes it to the TARDIS, and the game ends - but they can't get in. Back in the study the now visible Doctor is at move 1022. He points out that Steven and Dodo have made it to the TARDIS and he presses a button to open a door in the wall to go see if they are alright - oddly the Toymaker doesn't do anything. The Toymaker appears to them and tells them that only he can win, and the Doctor laughs it off and sends his companions into the TARDIS, and the Toymaker offers him power if only he stays. The Doctor doesn't care and goes into the TARDIS, but the Toymaker summons the trilogic game and sits down. The Doctor comes back out as he cannot leave until he wins the game, but when he wins the Toymaker loses - loses everything - his entire realm will cease to exist and that will apparently kill the Doctor.

The Doctor returns to the TARDIS to try and figure a way out. The Toymaker doesn't care about his world of course, he is immortal and can create a new world over time. In fact he wants to lose! He's bored with his world, he wants a new one, but he's never prepared to lose without killing someone in the process. Then the Doctor hits on a really lame plan (blame the scriptwriters for this, they wrote themselves into a corner. If they'd made the game chess the Doctor could have forced a draw) - he impersonates the Toymakers voice and orders the game to advance to move 1023. To the Toymakers surprise the Doctor managed to get the right tone of voice and he struggles to physically stop them moving, but fails and his realm explodes.

Now, if you thought that was a sad cop-out ending it gets worse - the Doctor tries some of Cyril's candy and hurts his teeth - Oh no! what will happen next!

They look for a dentist, that's what - but they don't find a particularly safe one....

Main Cast

  • Michael Gough - The Celestial Toymaker
  • Campbell Singer - Joey the Clown, Sgt. Rugg, King of Hearts
  • Carmen Silvera - Clara the Clown, Mrs. Wiggs, Queen of Hearts
  • Peter Stevens - Knave of Hearts, Kitchen Boy, Cyril
  • Reg Lever - Joker
  • Beryl Braham, Ann Harrison, Delia Lindon - Dancing Dolls
  • Notes

    • For anyone who is wondering just where the budget cuts were in this, the sets are largely blank walled rooms with things arranged in them - and there are only eight actors hired for the story - this probably added to the weirdness.
    • Speaking of actors: 1/4 of the cast for the story went on to play roles in more famous things - Carmen Silvera plays Edith in 'Allo 'Allo and Michael Gough is better known to people in the US as Alfred in the Batman movies
    • TARDIS hopscotch has a big dice indicator, which probably served the purpose of letting people at home see the dice number without having to do closeups which would have taken too much time to film

    Only I can win. If I lose, the Doctor and I go down together. - The Celestial Toymaker

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