Doctor Who: The Celestial Toymaker Audio CD – Audiobook, 2 Apr 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
He has to do so in 'The Massacre', where Hartnell can't appear as both the Abbott and the Doctor; he has to do so in 'The Daleks Masterplan' when Hartnell is again absent; and also in 'The Time Meddler' - at a point at which he's only been in the Dr Who series for a mere 3 weeks!
If they could have squeezed the poor guy into 'Mission to the Unknown' (in which not only Hartnell but ALL of the regular cast was missing!) I'm sure they would have.
Happily, Peter Purves has real style and a ready wit, and never seems phased by what must have been rather a daunting prospect. Here, the Celestial Toymaker waves his hand and the Doctor becomes invisible for a couple of episodes (a pretty neat trick on an audio recording!), and is represented in the middle two episodes of this serial only by some occasional pre-recorded dialogue, leaving Steven and Dodo to give the Toymaker the runaround for a fortnight.
It's an enjoyable romp, enlivened too by the presence of Carmen Silvera (from the tv series 'Allo 'Allo) and that fine old character actor Campbell Singer, as our heroes' opponents in a series of deadly games, loosely based on children's nursery rhymes. And of course, to the youngsters in the audience in the 1960's, this gave the serial a particular edge - being menaced by their toys, which come to life and then try to kill Steven and Dodo.
On the surface, to us now as adults, the story is just a charming fantasy. But with playing cards, nursery rhyme characters and Billy Bunter all coming to life at the drop of a hat, and turning out to be lethal, it somehow didn't seem quite so harmless at the time...
Another lost story (only episode 4 of 4 survives) from the experimental third series, this sideways tale divides fans like few others. A tiny but top notch cast powerfully sell this truly sinister nursery tea. The often underrated Purves is on good dryly humorous form; Singer and Silvera make a strong double act; and Peter Stephen's overweight middle-aged schoolboy is thoroughly creepy! Best of all Gough is the embodiment of urbane evil as the Toymaker, the hints at the Doctor's past encounters are tantalising, and there's a real feeling that the Doctor's met his match.
In fact it was nearly the first "regeneration" story, as the then almost weekly changing production team wanted to move Hartnell on. He certainly is missed from the middle two episodes, roughly when you'll want to throttle Lane's Dodo for being quite so thick. If the games seem under powered (Blind Man's Buff, Hunt the Thimble, etc), for me their very English Victorian twee-ness is deeply unsettling alongside the increasingly violent means of dispatch on show. (NB There's a mistake in the narration in episode 3- Sgt Rugg is a soldier, not a policeman).
The indispensible Doctor Who - Lost In Time [DVD]  contains episode 4, but the imagination probably exceeds the budget for the lost episodes. A great story for a listen.
The problem with the celestial toymaker lies with the story. It's a great concept - the tardis crew caught by a mysterious, fantastical being and forced to play his games - and without the episodes you can conjure up your own visuals in your mind which are possibly better than the tv ones were. There's an interesting hint that the toymaker and the doctor have met before, and that they're very powerful beings above the concerns of petty mortals.
But the story is repetitive. The first three episodes are pretty much the same plot over and over again. And that gets dull.
Things pick up a little in part four with the appearance of cyril the schoolboy, who is quite a menacing villain thanks to great work from the actor, and the ending of the tale is very nicely done. But one good episode doesn't quite make up for three tedious ones
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An enjoyable and unusual story, marred more than other audio versions of Doctor Who serials by the lack of visuals. Actions in games cannot be easily described. Read morePublished on 3 July 2014 by Prof Michael P Hoey
The Celestrial Toymaker is a good story not the best but for me a worthwhile addition to my growing collection.Published on 23 Oct. 2013 by Diane Armstrong
I was aware that "The Celestial Toymaker", originally by Brian Hayles but extensively rewritten by two of the show's producers, had come to have a poor reputation in fandom before... Read morePublished on 18 Jun. 2006 by M. Wilberforce
I cannot understand why this story has so long been hailed as a classic. Bill Hartnell is on holiday for two episodes, the games become annoying and the whole mess just drags on... Read morePublished on 31 Aug. 2001