Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Doctor Who S3 E7 "The Celestial Toymaker"

Go To

Doctor Who recap index
First Doctor Era
Season 3: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
<<< Season 2 | Season 4 >>>

The Celestial Toymaker
"You see? Did I not tell you the truth?" "Yes, Doctor, there is in fact a camera there. What of it?"
Written by Brian Hayles, Donald Toshnote , and Gerry Davisnote 
Directed by Bill Sellars
Production code: Y
Air dates: 2 - 23 April 1966
Number of episodes: 4
Episode titles: "The Celestial Toyroom", "The Hall of Dolls", "The Dancing Floor", "The Final Test"

"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 stories, 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, even as the Doctor notes that the Toymaker is immortal and he's bound to cross paths with the Doctor again in another time. 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 1960s 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. An animated remake is set to be released in 2024.


  • 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 Toymaker.
  • Bowdlerise: 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.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: The minions of the Toymaker who resort to cheating end up dead.
    • After the Doctor tries to give Steven and Dodo the solution to one of the puzzles, the Toymaker makes him unable to speak for the rest of his game.
  • 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 Horizoninvoked 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 (perhaps undercut by the reveal that he was a Living Toy). 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.
  • Filming for Easy Dub: William Hartnell's health was failing at that point and he needed a few weeks off, so they introduced the Toymaker, who was able to turn the Doctor intangible. This allowed him to be played by either no one or (for some scenes when the Toymaker makes only the Doctor's hand visible) a hand-double wearing the Doctor's Ring of Power, and for his dialogue to be dubbed in separately. In some parts the Toymaker even decides to make him mute, meaning they don't even have to do ADR.
  • 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 the clowns Clara and Joey, who use a fake blindfold for themselves and make Steven wear a real one, and cheerfully sabotage their obstacle course when it's Steven's turn to try it, and by Cyril, who makes up new rules on the spot and actively tries to sabotage Steven and Dodo.
  • 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).
  • Iconic Outfit: Dodo's tacky op-art dress is the outfit primarily associated with her, even though she only wears it in here. This was probably as the most recognisable visual depiction of her for pre-home-video fans was the cover of the novelisation, which depicts it. Steven is also associated strongly with his striped polo-neck, which Peter Purves expressed disappointment with in an interview on the "The Tenth Planet" DVD extras; he claimed it wasn't even cool in The '60s and wished that people associated him with the beautiful Renaissance clothes he got to wear in "The Massacre" instead.
  • 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.
    • In the first challenge, Steven and Dodo face two clowns, Joey and Clara, full of childish tricks and a dangerous game of Blind Man's Bluff. The clowns are made to replay the game when it is clear they are cheating, and the second time round Joey loses his footing on an obstacle course and the challengers are transformed into twisted dolls on the floor.
  • 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.
  • Noodle Incident: Unusually for the era, the Doctor has met the Toymaker before and defeated him, giving him full knowledge of his adversary’s M.O. Unfortunately, this means the Toymaker is also Genre Savvy about the Doctor’s usual tactics.
  • 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. Exaggerated 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.
  • Toy Transmutation: In the first challenge, Steven and Dodo face two Monster Clowns, Joey and Clara, full of childish tricks and a dangerous game of Blind Man's Bluff. The clowns are made to replay the game when it is clear they are cheating, and the second time round Joey loses his footing on an obstacle course and the challengers are transformed into twisted dolls on the floor.
  • 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.