The Celestial Toymaker

Doctor WhoThe TARDIS arrives in a verdant forest, which the Doctor, Dodo and Steven assume must be on Earth. They are soon proven wrong when alarms sound in the “forest,” which turns out to be part of a vast spaceship carrying the last remnants of the human race away from a doomed Earth, ten million years in the future when the sun is slowly edging toward its nova stage. The Doctor and his friends also meet the one-eyed alien Monoids, peaceful creatures which seem to languish in a benevolent servitude to the ship’s human crew. But the travelers’ arrival becomes a bad omen when Dodo, suffering from the common cold, accidentally transmits it to the commander of the ship – unaware that the human race ten million years hence lacks her immune system. Condemned for what is perceived to be biological warfare, the Doctor races to immunize the future humans against the cold. Having cleared his name, the Doctor and his friends depart in the TARDIS – but accidentally return to the same place seven centuries later, finding the Monoids in control and the last of the human race in the chains of slavery.

written by Brian Hayles
directed by Bill Sellars
music by Dudley Simpson

Guest Cast: Michael Gough (Toymaker), Campbell Singer (Joey the Clown, Sgt. Rugg, King of Hearts), Carmen Silvera (Clara the Clown, Mrs. Wiggs, Queen of Hearts), Peter Stephens (Knave of Hearts, Kitchen boy, Cyril), Reg Lever (Joker)

Broadcast from April 2 through 23, 1966

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Rightly held up as an example of the Hartnell era’s ability to evoke an intensely creepy atmosphere, The Celestial Toymaker is an intriguing and spooky four-parter that ultimately asks more questions than it answers. On its own merits, the whole thing is actually rather simplistic in its treatment of the various games and challenges, and in places it seems deliberately vague in explaining everything. We know no more about the Toymaker, his origins and his domain at the end of the proceedings than we do at the beginning; he and the Doctor are apparently well acquainted (if not terribly well disposed to one another), and all that we find out in the course of the story is that he’s an immortal being who can assemble a powerful space (strong enough to trap a TARDIS?) around himself, where he holds sway over the laws of nature, by sheer force of will. In retrospect, it’s a wonder that no reunion with this character was planned until Colin Baker’s era (The Nightmare Fair, a four-parter written for season 23 but abandoned when a publicly-decried attempt to cancel the series resulted in the Trial Of A Time Lord season instead).

Could The Celestial Toymaker be done today? Part of me wants to say yes, but in truth, so many of the reversals of our heroes’ fortune come about simply because someone takes advantage of Steven and Dodo’s comparitively genteel manners. But, though it pains me to suggest bringing Michael Gough out of retirement in his 90s, perhaps a rematch with the current Doctor is in order.