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The Celestial Toymaker

The Celestial Toymaker was the seventh story of the third season of Doctor Who. It was famously the story that almost wrote William Hartnell out of the series. Producer John Wiles’ original idea for dispensing with Hartnell’s services was to have the Doctor disappear as Hartnell during the Trilogic game, then reappear as another actor.

The larger truth, however, was that it was a serial that had, unlike most others, been shaped by two different production teams. Along the way it had generated unusual criticism from rights-holders of other properties — including Wiles’ own boss — who were concerned that their characters were being unhelpfully, if not illegally, used within the production.

In fact, “The Final Test” was the only Doctor Who episode forced to have a continuity announcement to protect the BBC from legal action on behalf of a copyright holder.

Toymaker saw Innes Lloyd officially take over as producer, which led to far less formal clothing for his female cast. For the first time, the female companion wears a miniskirt. The serial also suffered due to a hangover from The Ark that posted over budget, resulting in minimalist set design.


Episode 1: The Celestial Toyroom (Lost)

The Doctor, who has been rendered invisible and intangible, claims it is a powerful attack that has penetrated the TARDIS. He tells Dodo and Steven to turn on the scanner, but nothing appears. However, the scanner is not broken; it’s just not picking anything up. He has them open the doors and, against their advice, the Doctor heads outside.

Elsewhere a man dressed in the manner of a Chinese mandarin is lounging amongst toys and detritus. He is aware of the Doctor’s arrival as well as the details on his companions. He approaches a large dollhouse and removes two small figurines of clowns. He places them on the floor and they grow to life size. He tells them to “deal with” Dodo and Steven. They lumber off.

Steven and Dodo find the Doctor now visible, but they also discover a life-sized toy robot with a video screen built in its stomach. Steven sees images on the screen of himself on Kembel and in 16th century Paris. The Doctor warns Steven that this a hypnotic screen and realizes that they are in the world of the Celestial Toymaker, and the screen is a trap designed to let him get into their minds. The Doctor explains that the Toymaker is an evil force that traps people and turns them into his playthings. Dodo notices that the TARDIS is now no longer in the room. The Toymaker appears and tries to get Dodo to watch the screen, which shows her on the day her mother died. Dodo suggests they escape in the TARDIS, which prompts the Toymaker to show them hundreds of TARDISes on his screen, saying “Take your pick”, before vanishing with the Doctor. The two clowns appear and first begin to entertain Steven and Dodo, but the Toymaker returns again and explains that the two clowns are to act as their opponents. In order to win the TARDIS back, they must beat the clowns in a series of games. Every time they win they will get a TARDIS from the number of copies he has made in hope that it may be the genuine article. If they lose, they are forced to stay forever. Faced with no choice, Steven and Dodo agree.

In the depths of the toy room the Toymaker alludes to a time when the Doctor has been here but left before the Toymaker could engage him in competition. The Toymaker explains that he specifically brought the Doctor to his world because he’s been bored, and if he can trap the Doctor, he’ll have a brilliant mind to play against for all time — unlike Steven and Dodo who will be kept here as toys if they lose. The game he assigns to the Doctor is called the Trilogic game. This is a series of 9 blocks piled in ascending order using two other points on the board. The Doctor has to rearrange them in that exact order on point C. He can only move one block at a time and cannot put a larger block on top of a smaller block. The Toymaker tells the Doctor he has exactly 1023 moves to complete the game; one wrong move, and he will lose and be kept there forever. He points out a counter to keep track of how many moves the Doctor has taken. He tells the Doctor that he specifically chose this game as he feels travelling has made his mind old, lazy and weak. When the Doctor argues with this the Toymaker says it was easy enough to trick him into leaving the TARDIS this time compared to his last visit.

Steven and Dodo, meanwhile, are pitted against the two clowns, called Joey and Clara, in “Blind man’s buff”. One teammate will move around an obstacle course blindfolded, being guided only by coded buzzes from her partner. If the blindfolded person falls over, they lose. The obstacle course consists of a swing, stepping stones, a plank, a tube and a ladder. The Doctor tries to call out to warn Steven and Dodo about the game, but the Toymaker cuts him off, and, as punishment, makes him intangible once more (except for one hand, so he can still play his game). Joey goes first and effortlessly succeeds. Steven goes next, but has a hard time, especially because Joey has moved some obstacles around. Steven seems to fail, but they inspect Joey’s blindfold, and it’s see-through, meaning the clowns had been cheating all along. They demand a re-match, and this time Joey falls, and the two clowns collapse lifelessly. A TARDIS appears, but it’s a fake, containing only a door behind it. Steven and Dodo find a piece of paper with a riddle on it: “Four legs, no feet; Of arms no lack; It carries no burden on its back; Six deadly sisters, seven for choice; Call the servants without voice”. They move on through the door, leaving Joey and Clara — who have now reverted back to dolls — behind.

Episode 2: The Hall of Dolls (Lost)

Steven and Dodo move on through the false TARDIS into the next room, which contains different sizes and shapes of chairs in two adjoining rooms — three in one room, four in the other. The decide that the first lines of the riddle must correspond to the chairs they see in this room.

The Doctor watches this unfold and, apparently familiar with the Toymaker’s games, cries out, “It’s chair number —” but is cut off by the Toymaker before he can give them the answer to the game. The Toymaker takes away the Doctor’s ability to speak and commands him to continue his game. He picks up a deck of cards and declares that he will send the Hearts Family to play against Steven and Dodo next.

Dodo and Steven are visited by the Toymaker, who informs them how he deals with cheaters by letting them know what state the Doctor is in. Dodo tries to point out the Toymaker’s hypocrisy but he disappears. The pair are joined in the chair room by people dressed as the King, Queen, and Knave of Hearts, as well as the Joker. They realize that the line from the riddle they found earlier, “Six deadly sisters, seven for choice” means one chair is the correct choice, and the other six are deadly. The King and the Queen keep interrupting and distracting Dodo and Steven so they go to the next room, with Steven convinced they are imaginary products conjured up by the Toymaker.

In the next room they find three TARDIS shaped cabinets and one TARDIS they assume to be theirs. Inside the fakes they find seven dolls, correctly assuming them to be the “servants without voice.” Steven tries to command the dolls with his voice but to no avail, so they decide to place them on the chairs. As they attempt to do this the King and Queen return. Again Steven calls them imaginary but they prove that they are real as well — equally as trapped by the Toymaker as Dodo and Steven are. They will gain their freedom if they win at the game. The King and Queen see the dolls and demand they be shared, so Steven and Dodo hide three of them, and the four players take one doll each. They split up between the rooms, and each tries a chair. The King puts his doll in a chair, and the chair shakes violently until the doll’s head falls off.

In the other room, Dodo throws her doll into a chair, and it is electrocuted. Steven tries another, and a blade cuts the doll in half.

Back in the main room the King puts the last doll into a chair, and both chair and doll simply vanish, leaving just two chairs in their room. The King and Queen hatch a plan to use the Joker to sit on one of the chairs to ascertain if it’s the right one.

Steven and Dodo have one chair left in their room, but left the extra three dolls in the room the King and Queen are in. Dodo hears the King and Queen coming and plans to sneak out to get them; however, when the King and Queen wake the Joker, Steven sees through their plan and tries to stop them. Steven heads for the other room, and Dodo sits down in the remaining chair.

In the main area of the Toyroom, the Toymaker taunts the Doctor, now on move 690, telling him Dodo has chosen the wrong chair — the “freezing” chair.

Steven notices and rushes to Dodo. She says she suddenly feels cold, and cannot move. Steven forces Dodo to concentrate on him and eventually pulls her free from the chair.

Meanwhile, the King and Queen try to convince the Joker to test a chair for them, but he catches on to their plan when the Knave laughs at his stupidity and runs away. Unable to agree on who should try a chair next, the two sit in one of the two remaining chairs together. For a moment, nothing happens, and it appears they have won, until the chair suddenly collapses on them. Dodo and Steven enter and realize there’s only one chair left and sit in it, winning the game. The TARDIS lights up, but it’s another fake. Recalling that they haven’t solved the entire riddle, they try to “call the servants without voice” and call the remaining three dolls to them. Just then, the police box telephone rings. Steven answers, and it is the Toymaker, delivering the next clue: “Hunt the key, to fit the door; That leads out on the dancing floor. Then escape the rhythmic beat; Or you’ll forever tap your feet.” There is a click, and then a dial tone. They notice the King and Queen have become playing cards once more. As the two continue on, the three remaining dolls come to life and start to pursue them.

Episode 3: The Dancing Floor (Lost)

The Toymaker congratulates the Doctor on his choice of companions, and decides they have earned some amusement. He selects Sergeant Rugg and Mrs Wiggs.

Steven and Dodo are at the next door, but can find no way in. Dodo is frightened at the appearance of the “servants without voice.” However, the door suddenly opens on its own, and they go inside to discover a large old-fashioned kitchen populated by the familiar-looking Rugg and Mrs Wiggs. Mrs Wiggs directs them to the Dancing Floor, but the large oak door that separates them from it is locked. Though Steven is getting thoroughly annoyed at the characters sent at them, whose only job appears to be to “get his goat,” Dodo appeals sweetly to Rugg. He helps them realize the game is “Hunt the Thimble “; the key to the door is hidden somewhere in the kitchen.

The Toymaker complains that the Doctor is not playing quickly enough, and orders the advance of his game twice, to move 813.

Steven and Dodo discover a third character asleep in the kitchen, who looks uncannily like the Knave of Hearts. This character is stuffed into a kitchen boy’s uniform. Dodo again appeals to Rugg and he chivalrously helps her and Steven search for the key. Mrs Wiggs is getting more and more irritated at the three of them tearing apart her kitchen. She eventually loses her temper, even at Rugg, at the shattering of some of her plates and cups. Rugg and Mrs Wiggs quarrel violently, while the kitchen boy wakes and takes refuge under a table, but Steven tries to keep Dodo on task. Soon food is being thrown around, whereupon Dodo tries to reconcile the two, unsuccessfully. Steven catches the kitchen boy trying to escape and tries to force him to tell him where the key is, but the kitchen boy escapes and locks himself in the pantry. As the food fight continues, Rugg threatens a pie that Mrs Wiggs has made. She becomes very concerned and demands he put it down. Dodo realizes that’s one place they haven’t looked, and when the pie is smashed on the ground, she finds the key in it. They open the door and go inside. The Toymaker appears and angrily confronts the characters, exclaiming how they have wasted their “chance at life.” He commands them to prevent Steven and Dodo finding the next TARDIS, or he will break them like the plates. To demonstrate this threat, he shatters the last remaining plate.

Steven and Dodo arrive on the Dancing Floor to witness three ballerinas performing a dance. They see the TARDIS at the opposite end of the floor, but realize it can’t be so easy to get there. When they place their hands curiously over the floor, music plays and the dolls begin to dance. As Rugg and Mrs Wiggs enter, having “made up,” Steven makes a dash for it, but once the music starts, he is forced to dance, and the dolls surround him. Soon Dodo is pulled into the dancing, while Rugg and Mrs Wiggs scheme to get to the “big cupboard” first. As Mrs Wiggs begins to dance, the dolls change partners. Rugg finds he cannot resist and is soon dancing as well. Steven eventually becomes Dodo’s partner, and they successfully jump off the floor and into the TARDIS as Rugg and Mrs Wiggs dance on, left — as the rhyme says — to “forever tap their feet”. The TARDIS is another fake. Dodo is firmly convinced that these characters are alive, but Steven is doubtful.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is pleased with his companions, laughing despite the Toymaker being the only one who can see him. The Toymaker is livid with his “too human” characters. He takes out a Cyril doll, an “innocent, fat, jolly schoolboy” who he thinks will lull Steven and Dodo into a false sense of security.

Steven and Dodo find the way out of the cupboard and another message: “Lady luck will show the way; win the game or here you’ll stay.” As they emerge from a passageway, Dodo screams when Cyril appears in front of them. Steven thinks he’s seen Cyril before, and Cyril confirms this: he was previously the Knave of Hearts and the kitchen boy. As Cyril shakes Steven’s hand, Steven is shocked by an electrode and pulls away; Cyril giggles mischievously. As they realise the Doctor has reached move 902, Cyril directs them to the next game, which will be played against him.

Episode 4: The Final Test

The last game is “TARDIS hopscotch”. Each player rolls a die at his turn and moves the number of triangles indicated. First to reach the TARDIS is the winner. Steven is very suspicious at the apparent simplicity, but is pleased at the 2-to-1 odds. Cyril warns that the area between the triangles is electrified.

The Toymaker taunts that Cyril hates to lose, so he makes sure he never does. He pushes the Doctor’s game to move 930. He further taunts that Steven and Dodo’s places in the dolls’ house are prepared; sure enough, there are chairs inside labelled “STEVEN” and “DODO”.

Dodo is allowed to go first, then Steven. When Cyril plays, he sweetly informs them that if anybody lands on an occupied triangle, the first player must return to the start. After one turn, Steven is ahead at triangle 7, having been given a free move by the die indicator. But Dodo’s next turn lands her on Steven’s triangle, and sends him back. To add insult, the die indicator tells Steven he loses a turn.

The Doctor is removed from his ban of silence by the Toymaker. The Doctor confidently states that his concentration will not be broken now.

Cyril appears behind Dodo wearing a gorilla mask, frightening her. In so doing he has landed on her triangle. Steven threateningly moves towards Cyril, but Cyril calls him a cheater for moving when it wasn’t his turn. Steven and Dodo both must now go back to the start. Steven has had enough and tries to go on, but he runs into an invisible barrier and the Toymaker appears, saying that the barrier yields only to those who play the game by the rules. With no choice, they both jump back to the start and as they do, Cyril nails Steven with a catapult. Steven rolls a six, but in his haste his momentum almost carries him onto the electrified floor. He asks if he gets a second turn for a six, but Cyril indignantly dismisses that idea: “Eh? Certainly not!”

The Doctor is pushed forward to move 1000.

Steven loses another turn. Dodo rolls a much-needed six as well. Cyril needs a three to get home; he rolls a two. Then, the die indicator tells him he must move to triangle 9, putting him behind Dodo. Dodo’s turn is interrupted when Cyril starts to cry, and Dodo spots blood on his foot. She goes over to help him, despite angry warnings from Steven. It turns out to be a ruse; the ‘blood’ is really red ink. Cyril exclaims that Dodo is forced to go back to the start for moving off her triangle.

Cyril is exultant at his next roll, a five; he wins! As he reaches one of the last triangles, he slips off and is instantly electrocuted; all that is left of Cyril is a charred doll. Steven discovers slippery powder; Cyril must have placed it there himself. They must yet play the game to the end, so Dodo (ignoring Cyril’s ruling) rolls a four from her triangle and makes it home, though almost slipping on the powder herself.

The Doctor has been rematerialized fully, and at move 1022 sees that he will win the Trilogic game. He activates the Toymaker’s scanner to see that Steven and Dodo have won their game also. He happily goes to see if the real TARDIS is undamaged. Steven and Dodo hear the humming of the real TARDIS and the Doctor joins them. The Toymaker continues to tease the Doctor, and the Doctor is forced to admit that the three of them could be dragged down in defeat with him. When the Toymaker appears in the flesh, Steven moves to attack him, but his strength is turned against him, and the Doctor cools his temper and orders both his friends into the TARDIS.

The Toymaker offers the Doctor a chance to serve him and share in his power; the Doctor refuses and claims victory as he enters the TARDIS. The Doctor tries to take off, but the TARDIS controls fail to respond, and he re-emerges angrily to accuse the Toymaker of tampering with his ship. The Toymaker reminds him that the Trilogic game is not over; he must make move 1023 in order to leave. The Doctor moves to do so, but realizes he can’t, for when he does the Toymaker’s world will vanish, including everyone in it.

The Doctor explains to his companions that the Toymaker is immortal, and though his world may be destroyed he can merely build a new one. They must find a way to finish the game and leave safely. The Toymaker begs to be given the TARDIS, as “it would make such an interesting toy”. The Doctor asks for the Trilogic game to be moved inside the TARDIS, but the Toymaker refuses and tells them they must either stay there forever or make the last move and be destroyed. Steven offers to make the move himself, sacrificing his life to let the Doctor and Dodo escape, but the Doctor refuses to allow it, causing Steven to comment that they’re not going to get anywhere by trying to talk their way out of the situation.

The Doctor is suddenly inspired, and after presetting the controls, attempts to orally command the Trilogic game to move forward, as the Toymaker had done. His first attempt fails, but then the Doctor imitates the Toymaker’s voice and the move is made. He instantly commands Steven to throw the master switch, and the TARDIS safely dematerializes as the Toymaker’s world ceases to exist.

They celebrate with a bag of sweets, given to Dodo by Cyril. The Doctor puts one in his mouth, but suddenly yelps in pain and grabs his jaw.


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