Number : Season 3, serial 6 of 9.

Which One : Deadly toys and games.

Cast : The Doctor : William Hartnell
Steven : Peter Purves
Dodo Chaplet : Jackie Lane
Toymaker – Michael Gough
Joey the Clown / King of Hearts / Sergeant Rugg : Campbell Singer
Clara the Clown / Queen of Hearts / Mrs. Wiggs : Carmen Silvera
Cyril / Kitchen Boy / Knave of Hearts : Peter Stephens
Joker : Reg Lever

Written By : Brian Hayles

Produced By : John Wiles / Innes Lloyd

First UK Broadcast : 2 – 23 April 1966.

Length : 4 x 25 minute episodes.

Episodes :
1) “The Celestial Toyroom”
2) “The Hall of Dolls”
3) “The Dancing Floor”
4) “The Final Test”

Plot : The Doctor, Steven and Dodo enter the realm of the dastardly Celestial Toymaker; who makes the trio play a deadly game; to win their freedom.

Whats good : Michael Gough. Alice In Wonderland feel. The bizarre-fantasy toy element. The multi-part turns by the Toymaker’s toys. Sinister Cyril.

Whats bad : Badly paced and drawn out. Doesn’t build to anything conclusive. Final act is flat. Doctor is not present for much of the 2nd & 3rd episode. This was done much better in The Mind Robber. Another butchered Beeb episode; only episode 4 – still exists.

Review With Spoilers : The Celestial Toymaker is the sixth serial of season 3 – and marks the one time appearance, of the powerful and god-like Celestial Toymaker.

The Tardis is drawn into the Toymaker’s fantasy-realm. Where the Doctor, Steven and Dodo are split up – and each forced to play the Toymaker’s deadly games – to win their freedom.

The Doctor must complete a pyramid puzzle and Steven and Dodo must complete a series of different challenges; whilst being harassed – by a bunch of the Toymaker’s life-sized dolls.

On paper, The Celestial Toymaker has all of the hallmarks of a classic. Featuring the excellently sinister Michael Gough – as the Toymaker and pitching the Doctor into a series of nightmare challenges, based on children’s games.

But it isn’t, infact it doesn’t really work as an story. In part, due to a changeover of producer; midway into production – between John Wiles and Innes Lloyd. Both had differing ideas about the stories tone – and progression.

Also, there is never any sense, that the games; (think Japanese gameshow Takeshi’s Castle or Uk’s Crystal Maze) are really that challenging enough – to beat Steven and Dodo (one of the challenges, has the pair searching around a cluttered kitchen for a key!).

After all, the Toymaker wants to add the Doctor, Steven and Dodo – to his doll collection and it never becomes apparent that the Toymaker really pulls out the stops, to make this happen. Even the last dastardly trap, is beaten easily by the Doctor.

“Lady Luck will show the way, win the game, or here you stay!” The Celestial Toymaker

The Toymaker’s doll collection, comes alive – in a clever turn to have the same 3 actors; Campbell Singer, Carmen Silvera – and Peter Stephens. Appearing in each game – as different characters; which is a nice touch.

Peter Stephens in particular, has a nicely sinister turn as the cheating Cyril, Whose potentially copyright infringing take on ‘Billy Bunter’ (Stephens even ad-libbed the line that his friends call him “Billy”). Cyril challenges Steven and Dodo – to a deadly game of electrified hop-scotch.

You get the sense, that these may have been real people – at one time. Having lost the Toymaker’s dastardly games and being forced into the Toymaker’s doll collection. Unfortunately, no background into their predictament is given; which could have given them a tragic-backstory edge to proceedings.

Neither, do we learn anything about the Toymaker, other than he can create and destroy the worlds that his victims inhabit; and is also immortal. There is also an insinuation that the Toymaker has come across the Doctor before but again, no background is given – to flesh-out proceedings.

The Celestial Toymaker unwisely decides to feature three episodes of Steven and Dodo attempting various puzzles – rather than provide some substance to proceedings. Episode 4 – is the final showdown; with the Toymaker – and nothing of any drama is made of this situation.

A much better version of this type of story, was done with Patrick Troughton’s The Mind Robber – two years later.

In what could have been a classic Who spectacle, The Celestial Toymaker fails to make use of the rich potential backstory and fantasy source material – and unwisely instead, goes instead for a sterile gameshow-style approach.

??⚪⚪⚪ (2/5)

Old Doctor Who

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