Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Doctor Who S3 E7 "The Celestial Toymaker"

Go To
"You see? Did I not tell you the truth?" "Yes, Doctor, there is in fact a camera there. What of it?"
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

The one with the N-word.

The TARDIS arrives in the domain of the eponymous Toymaker, an immortal being who forces them to play deadly games. The Doctor plays the Trilogic Game, which neither believes the others would be capable of solving for some reason. Meanwhile, Steven and Dodo are given more childlike pursuits with incredibly deadly results, eventually playing a dice-based board game where they have to hop from square to square over an electrified floor while playing against a cheating man-child. The Toymaker, over the episodes, grows frustrated with the Doctor being... well... himself and begins to take parts of the Doctor away, making taunts to him. The Doctor is finally left down to a single hand, with no way to speak or even do much but play the Trilogic game.Of course, the Toymaker eventually returns the Doctor to normal, otherwise it'd be hard to explain the future episodes, wouldn't it?


Steven and Dodo, in their game of increasingly-deadly (and long) board games, barely win out as the devious manchild essentially commits suicide-by-stupidity. They rescue the TARDIS, the goal square of their little game, and the Doctor gets ever-closer to finishing off his game. Eventually, the Trilogic Game comes down to a dilemma: the Doctor can win by moving the last piece on the board, but if he does so the Toymaker's realm will vanish entirely. This means taking himself, Dodo and Steven with it while leaving the Toymaker free to build another realm and jerk around with more people. The Toymaker hopes that the Doctor will stay and play games as an equal mind to his own.

The Doctor wins by making his final move from inside the TARDIS through verbal commands that imitate the Toymaker himself. As they escape, the trio celebrate their win by all sharing a grin. The Doctor then whips out a bag of sweets and has a piece, but is left moaning in pain when he bites down on the sweet...


Episodes 1 to 3 of this story are among the 97 missing episodes of 60s Doctor Who. The fourth episode exists, and was released on the "Lost in Time" DVD set. However, there is a full novelisation of the adventure, and as with all other missing episodes audio recordings of the original broadcasts survive.


  • Absentee Actor: William Hartnell was on holiday during filming of the second and third episodes, meaning that for much of the story the Doctor is rendered mute and invisible by the Toymaker (save for a single hand, played by a hand double).
  • Affably Evil: The Toymaker is unfailing polite to the Doctor and his companions. He doesn't want to kill the Doctor, he just wants to keep him around as his perpetual opponent because his intelligence makes playing games more fun and challenging.
  • Big Bad: The clue's in the title.
  • Bowdlerise: Tropes Are Not Bad when the Values Dissonance is severe enough. The original version features the one and only use of the N-word in Doctor Who (in the older version of "Eenie Meenie Miny Moe"). In the BBC's release of the soundtrack, Peter Purves's narration talks over the line, and Loose Cannon's reconstruction deliberately distorts the sound here so the word is severely muffled.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: The Doctor is forced to imitate the Toymaker's accent in order to command his universe to self-destruct - it doesn't recognize his orders otherwise.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: Steven sees himself on the planet Kembel and in 16th century Paris in flashbacks to "The Daleks' Master Plan" and "The Massacre" respectively, and also refers to "the Monoids".
  • Crapsaccharine World: "The Celestial Toyroom", though even at first glance it shows its evil aspects.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: The Doctor's plan to finish the trilogic game by ordering it to the final move. In a variation it actually doesn't work the first time the Doctor tries it out, but when he takes the care to imitate the Toymaker's voice, it succeeds.
  • Deadly Game: Losing any of the games will result in either death or being condemned to spend all eternity as one of the Toymaker's playthings.
  • Enfante Terrible: Cyril is what Billy Bunter would be if he were the Toymaker's slave. He crosses the Moral Event Horizon when he attempts to trip Steven and Dodo up so they get a lethal shock from the hopscotch floor. However, he gets Hoist by His Own Petard.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: The shot of Cyril's charred corpse is surprisingly graphic. However, it is not known to have been cut from any print, despite the cutting of less-graphic deaths in other stories.
  • Fake Shemp: A hand double fills in for William Hartnell in the scenes of the Doctor playing the Trilogic Game.
  • For the Evulz: Everything the Toymaker does is just because he's bored.
  • The GM Is a Cheating Bastard: Downplayed somewhat by the Toymaker, who actually does abide by a certain set of rules throughout the story, though that's not to say that going through his games is a pleasant experience. Played straight by Cyril, who makes up new rules on the spot and actively tries to sabotage Steven and Dodo. The clowns, Clara and Joey, cheerfully sabotage their obstacle course when it's Steven's turn to try it.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Steven offers to do this, by making the final move in the trilogic game so that the Doctor and Dodo can escape, but the Doctor refuses to allow it.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Cyril spreads powder on a triangle in the hopscotch game to make Steven and/or Dodo fall onto the electrified floor. Guess who actually slips and falls. Adding insult to injury, this happens after he actually wins the game — in his jubilant dash to the finish spot, he forgets which triangle is booby-trapped.
    • The Toymaker is also ultimately defeated when the Doctor uses his own trick against him.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Toymaker resembles a middle-aged white man dressed in Mandarin robes who engages in silly, over-sized versions of board games and toys. He however controls his own universe and has vast powers over time and space. In the Expanded Universe, he is the Crystal Guardian of the Six-Fold Guardian of Time (who wouldn't appear or be mentioned properly until the Fourth Doctor's run, with the White and Black Guardians).
  • Monster Clown: The Toymaker isn't as actively cruel and malicious as a lot of examples of this trope, but he's certainly a horrible person all the same.
  • New Rules as the Plot Demands: What Steven accuses Cyril of doing during the hop scotch game.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: The Doctor only finds a way out of the Toymaker's realm because the Toymaker had already used verbal commands to skip ahead in the Trilogic Game and gave him the idea.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: Cyril is dressed like Billy Bunter and has a line (adlibbed) where he says that his friends call him "Billy". After the broadcast of "The Dancing Floor", the estate of Frank Richards complained that Billy Bunter was being portrayed as evil and a disclaimer was aired after "The Final Test" to state that Cyril was merely imitating Bunter.
  • Pinball Protagonist: The Doctor spends the whole plot able to do little other than argue with the Toymaker in ADRed lines, and even Steven and Dodo have no real agency except to win the games the Toymaker set out for them until the Toymaker just gives them the TARDIS back.
  • Platonic Cave: The story takes place in an alternate reality.
  • Pocket Dimension: The setting is described as this.
  • Physical God: The Doctor claims that the Toymaker is an immortal and can't be killed. Even if his world is destroyed if he's defeated, he survives and just creates a new one.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: The Toymaker is a mild example, behaving relatively normally most of the time, but also showing the odd example of childish glee at the prospect of the Doctor and his companions being subjected to a Fate Worse than Death. Turned Up to Eleven by Cyril, a fully grown man who actually dresses like a schoolboy and tries to trick Steven and Dodo into making fatal mistakes in the final game.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: What the Toymaker tries to inflict on those who are lucky enough to win his games, with the winner at best being forced to sacrifice one of their number so that the rest might escape, or at worst dying when the Toymaker's world is destroyed. That is, until the Doctor manages to Take a Third Option.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Dodo really lives up to her namesake. She doesn't grasp the danger she and Steven are in, falls for an obvious trick by Cyril and nearly causes them to lose the TARDIS.
  • Towers of Hanoi: The Doctor is challenged to solve a 10-disc version of the Towers of Hanoi, known as The Trilogic Game. The Doctor realizes that the Toymaker's world will vanish once he makes the last move, so he finishes it inside the TARDIS.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The Toymaker is driven to his villainy by the sheer boredom of immortality. He doesn't even mind the Doctor destroying his realm because at least rebuilding it will mean he has something to do.
  • Whammy: The Go-Back-To-Start in the hopscotch game could be this if one was so close to winning.
  • Wicked Toymaker: The Toymaker, who abducts people to his little dimension, forces them to play lethal games, and threatens to destroy them utterly if they don't comply.
  • Yellowface: The Toymaker is a borderline example, in that Michael Gough dressed as a mandarin and adopted the title of "Celestial", a word that the English associated with Chinese culture. But he did not adopt a Chinese-sounding accent or wear makeup.
  • Yellow Peril: A debatable example: the Toymaker wears traditional Chinese clothing (with no in-story explanation or discussion), and the word "Celestial" was occasionally used in British culture as a mild derogatory term for Chinese people and culture, but there's no attempt to give the character a "Chinese" facial appearance or accent.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: