The Celestial Toymaker

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This article is about the episode. For the title character, see Celestial Toymaker.
024 – The Celestial Toymaker
Doctor Who serial
Celestial Toymaker.jpg
The Celestial Toymaker
Writer Brian Hayles
Donald Tosh
Director Bill Sellars
Script editor Gerry Davis
Producer Innes Lloyd
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Dudley Simpson
Production code Y
Series Season 3
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Episode(s) missing 3 episodes (1-3)
Date started 2 April 1966
Date ended 23 April 1966
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Ark The Gunfighters

The Celestial Toymaker is the sixth story of the third season in the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who. In it the Doctor and his companions are pitted against a powerful adversary called the Celestial Toymaker. He separates the Doctor from his companions, and all are forced to win a series of games before they can be reunited and return to the TARDIS.

It was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 2 to 23 April 1966. Only the last episode of this story, "The Final Test", is held in the BBC archives; the other three remain missing. "The Final Test" has been released on VHS and DVD, and the story has been novelised.


An alien intelligence has invaded the TARDIS and rendered the First Doctor invisible, leaving Dodo Chaplet and Steven Taylor incredulous. They step outside into a strange realm where the Doctor reappears, saying he recognises the place. They have come to the realm of the Celestial Toymaker, an eternal being of infinite power who sets games and traps for the unwary so that they become his toys and playthings. The TARDIS is removed to prevent their escape and hidden with hundreds of facsimiles to prevent detection. The Doctor and the Toymaker have faced each other before, and the Toymaker abducts his old adversary to another place. The Doctor appears in the Toymaker’s study where he is given the Trilogic game, a ten piece Tower of Hanoi puzzle whose pieces must all be moved and remounted in a precisely correct 1023-move sequence to ensure success at the game. Screens are placed in the two rooms which transmit the progress of the Doctor to his friends and vice versa. When the Doctor tries to communicate with his friends he is rendered invisible, unable to offer any advice or support. The game is advanced automatically to a further stage, with the Toymaker warning the Doctor that both parties must finish their tasks at the same time to win the game. A similar transgression later leads to him being made mute.

Steven and Dodo face different challenges. The first to appear are two clowns, Joey and Clara, full of childish tricks and a rather dangerous game of Blind Man's Bluff based on buzzed clues, which is not as simple as it first seems. The clowns are made to replay the game when it is clear they are cheating, and the second time round Joey loses his footing on an obstacle course and the challengers are transformed into twisted dolls on the floor. Steven and Dodo then venture down a corridor into another chamber with three beautiful chairs and a challenge from living playing cards, the King and Queen of Hearts, along with a Knave and a Joker. An adjoining room has a further four chairs and Steven deduces from a rhyme that six of the seven chairs are deadly to sit on. Seven mannequins are provided to be used for testing on the chairs. The King and Queen play alongside them, and some of the mannequins are destroyed as seats are proven unsafe and eliminated. Dodo herself sits in the freezing chair and starts to freeze, only being rescued in the nick of time. The King and Queen, however, are trapped when they sit in a chair which folds in on them, with Cyril, the Knave, and the Joker having abandoned them to their games. The King and Queen revert to their playing card form.

The next hurdle for Steven and Dodo are the comical Sgt. Rugg and Mrs. Wiggs, who hold court in a kitchen. They challenge them to hunt the thimble – or rather the key to the exit door – beyond which the TARDIS is presumed to be. Rugg and Wiggs are soon fighting, hurling crockery and food around, and in the chaos Dodo finds the key inside the large pie which Mrs Wiggs was making. She and Steven depart and enter another room with a dancing floor. There they encounter the three mannequins not destroyed by the chairs, who transform into ballerinas, and start to dance. At the far end of the floor is the TARDIS. Sgt Rugg and Mrs Wiggs turn up too, determined to please the Toymaker and stop Steven and Dodo from reaching their craft. Steven and Dodo get trapped as partners with two of the dolls, and only manage to free themselves by swapping their partners for each other. They pelt on to the TARDIS, leaving Wiggs and Rugg to their fates, but the police box is once more a fake.

With the Doctor making good progress with the Trilogic Game, the Toymaker now chooses Cyril the schoolboy to take on his companions. Dodo and Steven now find themselves in a vast game of hopscotch against the schoolboy, who delights in tricks and traps to prevent them winning. The TARDIS is the alluring prize at the end of the game, and dice throws are required to be won to reach it, relying on luck, and avoid the electrified spaces beyond the raised triangles that make up the game spaces. Also, if a player lands on a triangle that is already occupied, the first player has to return to the start. It is, however, Cyril who literally falls foul of his own traps when he slips on a triangle he has booby-trapped and is electrocuted. Dodo and Steven thus reach the TARDIS.

In the Toymaker’s study at the same time, the Doctor is at the final stage of the Trilogic Game. He has been returned to visibility and voice, and holds the final piece of the puzzle in his hand. The three friends are now reunited, with Steven and Dodo sent into the TARDIS for safety while the Toymaker challenges the Doctor to complete the Game. The Doctor realises that when he makes the move and the Game is won, the Toymaker’s domain will disappear – and the TARDIS with it. He cleverly orders the last piece to move using the Toymaker’s voice from inside the TARDIS, allowing them to depart while the Toymaker’s world is destroyed. The Doctor celebrates with a sweet from a bag given to Dodo by Cyril, but it leaves him in agony.


The character of the Toymaker and his portrayer, Michael Gough, were set to return in Season 23 in a story titled The Nightmare Fair with the Sixth Doctor and Peri Brown. However, that season was placed on hiatus by then BBC Controller Michael Grade and when the hiatus was over, all of the original stories were dropped in favour of the season-long story The Trial of a Time Lord.

The Nightmare Fair was later released in May 1989 as a novel (ISBN 0426203348) under the same title, and then again in 2009 as an audio play by Big Finish, featuring the two of the original TV cast, Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant, and with David Bailie as the Toymaker. The character of the Toymaker also appeared in the BBC Books Fifth Doctor Past Doctor Adventures novel Divided Loyalties by Gary Russell (which reveals that the Celestial Toymaker is of the Guardian alien race, as well as revealing the details of the First Doctor's original encounter with the Toymaker while he was still at the Academy). He is also seen in Doctor Who Magazine's first Eighth Doctor comic strip "End Game". The Toymaker also appears in two original Big Finish audio plays: with the Seventh Doctor in The Magic Mousetrap and with companion Charlotte Pollard in Solitaire. David Bailie again played the role.

A picture of Clara the clown appears on Sarah Jane's laptop in The Sarah Jane Adventures story The Day of the Clown.


All episodes of this story except the fourth episode, "The Final Test", are missing from the BBC archives.

Working titles for this story included The Toymaker and The Trilogic Game. Brian Hayles was unavailable to do necessary rewrites, so then script editor Donald Tosh performed them. As Tosh would no longer be script editor by the time the story was transmitted, he agreed with Hayles to take the writer's credit, with Hayles being credited for the idea. After Tosh finished work on the scripts, his successor, Gerry Davis, was forced to make further rewrites due to a budget shortfall. Tosh was unhappy with the rewrites and refused to be credited, while Davis could not take a credit because he was the series' script editor. As a result of this, Hayles was the sole credited author on the final serial, despite the fact that he had not worked on it in three months and the final scripts bore little to no resemblance to what he wrote.

William Hartnell was on holiday during the second and third episodes, "The Hall of Dolls" and "The Dancing Floor". Pre-recordings of his voice were heard in episode two and Albert Ward was a hand double (sporting the Doctor's ring) for scenes where the mostly invisible Doctor played the Trilogic Game throughout the story. The story was commissioned by producer John Wiles, who left the series before it was recorded after several clashes with William Hartnell. His intention was to replace Hartnell in the role of the Doctor during the story, having the character reappear in a new guise after the invisibility was removed by the Toymaker. The BBC's head of serials, Gerald Savory, vetoed the idea, leading to Wiles quitting in protest.[1]

Cast notes[edit]

Michael Gough would return to the programme in the Arc of Infinity. Peter Stephens returned to play Lolem in the Second Doctor story The Underwater Menace. Carmen Silvera later appeared in Invasion of the Dinosaurs.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
"The Celestial Toyroom" 2 April 1966 (1966-04-02) 24:40 8.0 Only stills and/or fragments exist
"The Hall of Dolls" 9 April 1966 (1966-04-09) 24:45 8.0 Only stills and/or fragments exist
"The Dancing Floor" 16 April 1966 (1966-04-16) 24:10 9.4 Only stills and/or fragments exist
"The Final Test" 23 April 1966 (1966-04-23) 23:57 7.8 16mm t/r

BBC Television, the producers, received complaints from lawyers acting on behalf of the late Frank Richards' estate. The character Cyril (played by Peter Stephens) was said to bear a remarkable resemblance to Billy Bunter. The BBC subsequently issued a disclaimer saying that Cyril was merely "Bunter-like".[5]

The BBC's Audience Research Report on the final episode found that it "had little appeal for a large proportion of the sample, over a third of whom actually disliked it." Some found the episode to be lacking in action and it was also criticised for 'ham' acting, although other viewers had enjoyed the cast's performance. The audience sample mostly found the story as a whole to be too different to the usual Doctor Who story format, being more of a whimsical fantasy. The most critical viewers dismissed it as "ridiculous rubbish", others said that although disliking it themselves, their children had enjoyed it.[6]

The serial was positively received by Patrick Mulkern of Radio Times who said the first episode was "undoubtedly a fantasy classic". Mulkern thought that Michael Gough did not get much screen time in his role as the Toymaker, but "exudes menace ... and has that fabulous voice." The review also praised Dudley Simpson's musical score, and the "excellent" costume and design.[7]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

The Celestial Toymaker
Doctor Who The Celestial Toymaker.jpg
Author Gerry Davis and Alison Bingeman
Cover artist Graham Potts
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
Publisher Target Books
Publication date

June 1986 (Hardback)

20 November 1986 (Paperback)
ISBN 0-426-20251-1

A novelisation of this serial, written by Gerry Davis and Alison Bingeman, was published by Target Books in June 1986. It is one of the few Doctor Who novels (original or adapted) to be written by more than one person.

Home media[edit]

The fourth episode, "The Final Test", was released on The Hartnell Years VHS in 1991, albeit with the "Next Episode" caption rather clumsily cut from the cliffhanger scene (this was unavoidable, as the 16mm black & white film telerecording was itself incomplete). In November 2004, "The Final Test" was released in digitally re-mastered form (with the "Next Episode" caption restored) on DVD in Region 1 and Region 2 in a three-disc Lost in Time box set.

Soundtrack recordings made by fans, coupled with linking narration by Peter Purves, also facilitated the story's CD release. In the second episode, "The Hall of Dolls", the King of Hearts recites a version of the children's rhyme Eeny, meeny, miny, moe which includes the racial slur "nigger" in the second line — the use of which was actually still acceptable in 1966. The rhyme is still present on the audio release, but to avoid offending modern audiences this section is obscured by part of Peter Purves's narration.[8] The three missing episodes have been reconstructed by Loose Cannon Productions with stills and the complete soundtrack.


  1. ^ "Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Season 3". BBC. Retrieved 2013-10-07. 
  2. ^ Shaun Lyon; et al. (2007-03-31). "The Celestial Toymaker". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-03-31. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  3. ^ "The Celestial Toymaker". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2005-04-28). "The Celestial Toymaker". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  5. ^ Cyril or Billy? The resemblance causes allegations of plagiarism against Doctor Who’s producers, the BBC: website. Retrieved 24 February 2008.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Audio release censorship? Ian T. Williams’ personal website FAQs. Retrieved 24 February 2008.

External links[edit]


Target novelisation[edit]

Audio adaptation[edit]