‘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.’ The Toymaker
2nd – 23rd April 1966
The Memory Cheats
OK So I have not seen this story before, but I have seen episode 4. In the run up to the 30th Anniversary, as in 2013, I picked a story for each Doctor in the seven weeks leading up to 23rd November. Rather than pick a Hartnell story, as I was about to watch all of his, I watched ‘The Hartnell Years’ VHS. I think The Final Test must have been on that video.
My first brush with the story was of course the Radio Times 1973 special which had glorious colour photos from the story. I did not realise at the time that the guy with the stripy jumper was the one off of Blue Peter but those images made this a story I wanted to see.
The story was also the inspiration for ‘The Celestial Toyroom’. I have never seen this magazine as I did not ever join the Doctor Who Appreciation Society but I did read many other fanzines in the eighties that would always refer to ‘CT’ so it achieved almost mythical status in my late teens ‘Who’ obsessed mind. Maybe one day!
Of course, the Toymaker was set to return in the aborted 1985 season of the show. What a shame. I know Big Finish have produced The Nightmare Fair, and I think there was a target novelisation. For now I am happy to look forward to seeing this story for the first time as one. The recon should be helped by the telesnaps too.
The Time Space Visualiser
Let’s get rid of the Doctor again. First he is invisible, next he can’t speak. Is he actually in any more episodes before they kill him off? Of course this was a prototype for a ‘regeneration’ story but I am really missing the Doctor and for as good as Purves is, what is the point of bringing in an old adversary of the Doctor if they are not going to have any screen time together. At least Dodo’s accent has settled and she seems less annoying in freeze frame!
It is a quest, kind of, and the episode is very reminiscent of the final episode of ‘The Prisoner’ which followed two years later. The guest performances are all really good. I love the dolls, they are very menacing. I think I read somewhere that the BBC got into trouble with Cyril for him being too much like Billy Bunter. All praise to Michael Gough though. (We saw him once!) Was the Toymaker another Time Lord? I like to think so. A great super villain nonetheless whom the Doctor has met before. What a performance. Thankfully we get to see him in the surviving episode 4.
Of course we know they are not going to get to the TARDIS until the final episode but at the rate companions have been disappearing recently the jeopardy may well have been real for the original audience. I found the story captivating I rather like the ‘toys are sinister’ genre. Perhaps the slightly circular plot in each episode stops this story from being ‘a classic’ but the performances, even from Jackie Lane prevent it from being a turkey.
Racist Moment of the Week
Eeny meeny miney mo! My, how quickly some stories date. Clarkeson and Christie beware!
Catchphrase Error of the Week
‘A playing card!’ Says the Queen in true Lady Bracknell style. Everyone knows it’s ‘A handbag!’ I suspect this was an homage but I couldn’t let it pass!
‘I don’t think neither of you understand.’ William! I don’t think that’s not a double negative!
If episode 4 were audio only, we would be left wondering what Cyril, Dodo and Steven were up to in the game room!
Episode 4, 8:15
Steven: I’m going to see if there’s any invisible barrier around his backside.
And at 10:00
Steven: It’s up to you now Dodo. Come on, give it a good shake!
The 500 Year Diary
We’ve landed in the celestial toyroom in the domain of the Celestial Toymaker. I’ve met the fellow before, but never played any of his ‘games’ with him. He has brought me into this world because he’s bored and wants an intelligent companion to play with for eternity. Should take that as a compliment really! Anyway, we’re to play the Trilogic game. He thinks I’ll lose because my mind is old, weak and lazy. Rude!
Meanwhile, Steven and Dodo have to play for the TARDIS and their freedom. The Toymaker has given them an obstacle course – although the clown competitors appear to be able to cheat which I suppose means that the Toymaker doesn’t have to play by the rules and therefore as an omnipotent being he could do whatever he wants without the games! Anyway, try and help Steven and Dodo; as a result the Toymaker makes me intangible – invisible apart from one hand.
Steven and Dodo succeed, but no TARDIS. Just a riddle.
Steven and Dodo arrive in the hall of dolls with seven chairs in two rooms. I know the solution! Start to call out the answer, but the Toymaker makes me dumb!
As I continue to play the Trilogic game, Steven and Dodo have to play this weird guessing game against the Hearts using dolls. Dodo sits on the wrong chair and nearly freezes to death (it was lucky she didn’t sit on the one which cut the doll in half), but she escapes after Steven talks to her for a bit.
They win this game, but it’s another fake. A new game awaits and they’re being chased – by the dolls!
Firstly, my companions are thrust into some bizarre kitchen scenario where they have to find a key amidst a crazy food fight.
Having found the key, they go to the dancing floor. After some dancing, they manage to escape, but it’s another fake TARDIS.
I’m still deaf and dumb and the Toymaker is getting rather irritated. If he’s so powerful make the games less easy to win! Anyway, I’m on move 902 – 121 to go.
Steven and Dodo are confronted by Cyril, who is not like Billy Bunter at all. Not one bit.
The final test is TARDIS hopscotch. A terrifying game with an electrified floor! I hope they win otherwise they’ll be dolls in the Toymaker’s dolls’ house. This Cyril isn’t very nice at all, so in some ways it’s rather satisfying when he slips on his own powder leading to his electrocution. So Steven and Dodo win again!
I’m back in the room! And not far from winning the game. Although if I finish the game, the toyroom would disappear with us in it. We can’t leave as the game isn’t finished. A quandary. However, using my powers of mimicry I can imitate the Toymaker from inside the TARDIS to make the final move. We dematerialise as the toyroom disappears. He’s not so powerful – we beat him every step of the way!
Stupidly, I eat one of Cyril’s sweets. It could have been poisoned. Instead it causes a great deal of pain!
The Five Word Lords
The greatest non returning villain?