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The Celestial Toymaker
The TARDIS is taken to the surreal Celestial Toyroom by the nefarious Toymaker, an old foe of the Doctor's. Steven and Dodo are forced to play a series of games against increasingly deceitful opponents in order to regain possession of the TARDIS, while the Doctor must solve the complex Trilogic Game in a battle of wits against the Toymaker. If any of them fail, they will be destined to remain in the Toyroom forever, transformed into dolls under the Toymaker's control.
Brian Hayles had been writing for television part-time for several years when, in 1965, he finally decided to leave a teaching position so that he could fully devote his attention to scripting. In February, he was commissioned to write a storyline entitled “The Dark Planet” by Doctor Who story editor Dennis Spooner; this was not pursued further. Hayles then created the football soap United!, after which he submitted three more ideas for Doctor Who: first The Celestial Toymaker during the summer, and then “The White Witch” and “The Hands Of Aten” in November. Storylines for all three were commissioned by Spooner's replacement, Donald Tosh, but the latter two were dropped in January 1966.
The Celestial Toymaker, on the other hand, was much liked by both Tosh and producer John Wiles, and Hayles was asked to develop it into full scripts. Episode one was commissioned on July 29th, with the final three installments following on September 17th, by which time the title “The Trilogic Game ” was being considered. Wiles and Tosh also thought that the serial's fantastic nature might afford them a way of dealing with the adversarial relationship which had festered between themselves and William Hartnell.
It was decided to structure “The Trilogic Game” so that the Doctor would be mute and mostly invisible for much of its duration. At the conclusion of the story, he would reappear, but now played by a different actor, who could take over the series from Hartnell (whose contract expired with episode four). This ending would have the additional benefit of leaving a lingering doubt in the minds of Steven and Dodo (and the viewers) as to whether the new character really was the Doctor, or part of another ploy of the Toymaker's. These plans were vetoed by Wiles' superiors, however, and Hartnell was subsequently given a contract extension. This, in part, led to both Wiles and Tosh resigning from Doctor Who in December.
Meanwhile, when Hayles delivered his scripts for what was now Serial Y, Wiles and Tosh realised that they would require special effects well beyond the range of the Doctor Who budget. With Hayles too busy working on United! to engage in further rewrites, it was agreed that Tosh would redraft the scripts, permissible since he would no longer be the story editor by the time the serial entered production. The finished episodes would then credit the serial as having been written by Tosh from an idea by Hayles.
In amending the scripts, Tosh sought advice from both Wiles and Bill Sellars, the director assigned to “The Trilogic Game”. This would be Sellars' only Doctor Who adventure. His later work would include such series as The Newcomers, The Brothers and All Creatures Great And Small; he passed away on December 19th, 2018. Amongst Tosh's contributions to the storyline was the Trilogic Game; and, since this originated in China, it was thought that the Toymaker should therefore assume the appearance of a mandarin. Tosh also removed a complex sequence set in a maze, replacing it with the more affordable game of “hunt the key”.
Having completed his work on Serial Y -- which bore the title “The Toymaker” before being restored to the original The Celestial Toymaker -- Tosh left on holiday. Wiles then made a few final modifications to the scripts, which he believed were running a bit short, prior to handing over the producer's reins to Innes Lloyd in February 1966. The Celestial Toymaker would feature Lloyd's first onscreen credit for Doctor Who.
Soon thereafter, however, a major problem arose. One of the central elements of Hayles' storyline -- an aspect on which Tosh and Wiles were both quite keen -- was the appearance of characters named George and Margaret. These were drawn from a Thirties play entitled George And Margaret by Gerald Savory -- recently appointed Head of Serials for the BBC -- the gimmick of which was that although the entire story revolved around the imminent arrival of the eponymous characters, the play ended just as they were about to appear. Hayles thought it would be amusing to have George and Margaret finally seen as pawns of the Toymaker who would play various games against Steven and Dodo.
Unfortunately, less than a month before the start of production on The Celestial Toymaker, Savory withdrew his permission for George and Margaret to appear, despite the fact that Campbell Singer and Carmen Silvera had already been cast in the roles. With Hayles still unavailable, new story editor Gerry Davis was forced to make major changes to the scripts. In so doing, he replaced George and Margaret with various other pairs of characters who could be played by Singer and Silvera (the clowns Joey and Clara, the King and Queen of Hearts, and Sergeant Rugg and Mrs Wiggs).
Davis also rebalanced the scripts to emphasise Steven and Dodo's roles over those of the Doctor and the Toymaker. It was known by now that the previous serial in production, The Ark, had gone overbudget and so Davis attempted to arrange the revised scripts so that The Celestial Toymaker could be made as cheaply as possible. Wiles, unfortunately, was aghast at all the changes, and in late February he wrote to Savory to lament that The Celestial Toymaker had not simply been abandoned altogether. Tosh would also later express his disappointment at Davis' rewrites.
Filming took place on March 2nd and 3rd at the Ealing Television Film Studios. Amongst the scenes enacted at this time were those of the Trilogic Game, and particularly the sequences in which only the Doctor's arm is visible, during which Albert Ward doubled for Hartnell. Hartnell was still present, however, to record lines of dialogue to accompany these scenes.
Recording began on March 18th; as usual, the episodes would be recorded on sequential Fridays in Riverside Studio 1. For The Celestial Toyroom, flashbacks to earlier Doctor Who episodes were employed for the first time. In this instance, scenes of Steven from The Daleks' Master Plan and The Massacre Of St Bartholomew's Eve appeared on the monitor in the toy robot's chest.
Although the plans to replace Hartnell had been dropped, the actor was still afforded two weeks' holidays during the recording of The Hall Of Dolls and The Dancing Floor. Fortunately, his relationship with Lloyd and Davis was much more cordial than with their predecessors. As recorded, The Dancing Floor deviated from Davis' scripted intentions. The writer had indicated that Cyril should be clad in the manner of the Artful Dodger from Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, but in the event the decision was made to dress Peter Stephens like Billy Bunter, the beloved children's character created by the late Frank Richards. To reinforce the image, Stephens uttered an unscripted line of dialogue relating that Cyril's friends call him “Billy”.
Unfortunately, this was to draw a complaint from Richards' estate following the broadcast of The Dancing Floor on April 16th. There was concern that Doctor Who was attempting to portray Billy Bunter as an evil character. To mollify Richards' representatives, a continuity announcement was aired after The Final Test the next week, emphasising that Cyril was not intended to be Billy Bunter, but was merely imitating the character.
Following the completion of The Celestial Toymaker, the Trilogic Game prop came into the possession of Peter Purves, who was very pleased with Steven's increased importance in the serial. Unfortunately, after leaving Doctor Who, Purves endured a year and a half without work and came to see the Trilogic Game as the source of his bad luck. He finally discarded the prop, and ironically was rewarded with a role in Z Cars the following day.
Meanwhile, this was to prove the only appearance by Michael Gough in the role of the Toymaker. A return engagement was planned for the first story of Season Twenty-Three in the form of “The Nightmare Fair”, written by Graham Williams. Sadly, Doctor Who was put on hiatus by the BBC before production began, and all the original plans for that season were ultimately abandoned.
|Updated 20th December 2018|
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