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on 27 June 2011
Story: 8/10 (Doctor contracts invisibility in an immortal's deadly nursery).

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] [1963] contains episode 4, but the imagination probably exceeds the budget for the lost episodes. A great story for a listen.
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on 20 February 2002
The odd thing about Dr Who in the Sixties was that Bill Hartnell was forever going away on a fortnight's holiday! I've lost track of how many Dr Who releases the BBC have now done of Hartnell stories in which Peter Purves is left to carry the show single handed.
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...
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on 13 June 2006
I'm 13 years old and I hate the new Doctor Who series. Why not sit back and enjoy some light hearted and cheerful Doctor Who instead of the noisy, fast paced and modern rubbish? This story, The Celestial Toymaker, is a perfect example of the quiet and entertaining series that ignorant people don't understand. Don't let a few CSO effects and wobbly sets put you off a classic show that has been turned into a mess over 2006.
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As usual the BBC give us a superbly presented soundtrack. The quality of the product and the linking narration is superb.

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
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on 3 July 2014
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. Nevertheless a worthwhile listen.
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on 13 April 2001
This is a fantastic audio of one of Hartnells lost stories. Only one episode exists on film so here is your chance to capture the other three. This story has never been given the gratitude it deserves. Don't listen to bad reviews of this story, review it yourself by getting it!
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on 17 April 2001
this is what early doctor who is about, strong characters a villan that you dispise and yet almost like and a third episode cliffhanger that really does leave you on the edge of your seat. This story is one that you are almost glad no longer exists on video as your imagination fills in parts that 60's tv could never. A classic that every doctor who fan must have
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on 18 June 2006
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 I listened to it. However, I am capable of finding redeeming qualities in almost any "Doctor Who" story.

This one is something of an exception. However one looks at it (it's at least imaginative), there's no escaping the fact that "The Celestial Toymaker" is deathly dull and hard to sit through (even though episode four survives in full and can be watched on the DVD set "Lost in Time"). It's not the actors' fault, it's simply a very bad story.

Steven and Dodo spend four episodes playing games with very little sense of danger or tension despite the apparent threats they face. The Doctor, meanwhile, is made invisible and mute so that William Hartnell could go on holiday for two weeks, resulting in scenes where the Toymaker (a respectable performance by actor Michael Gough) basically talks to himself. Steven shouts and Dodo displays a totally blinkered stupidity against the threats the two companions are supposedly facing by repeatedly empathising with the Toymakers' intermittently homicidal creations.

Once can see what the producers were trying to achieve, but the extensive rewriting creates in "The Celestial Toymaker" a tedious and lamentable four episodes of "Doctor Who". Recommended for total completists - such as myself - only.
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on 28 April 2001
After leaving the planet Refusis, Steven and Dodo are amazed when the Doctor vanishes - but he is not gone, simply invisible. He warns them that they are under attack, and they are soon facing his old foe, the Toymaker. A being of immense power, they must play the Toymakers games and win or become his toys forever...
This audio story is the soundtrack of a mostly lost TV serial (only the final episode reamins of the four that were made). It takes otherwise familair childern's games like blind man's buff and changes them to something threatening.
What is unfortunate is that this conversion is not entirely successful: many of the games seem annoying, and Steven and Dodo's complaints that the Toymaker's pawns are cheating sounds very whiny. With William Hartnell on holidays for the middle two episodes, we are denied of his usual dominance of the proceedings to make the story come alive. And then there's the Toymaker, who would almost seem to be a refugee from the TV version of Batman with Adam West!
Conceptually good, but the execution is pretty poor.
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on 23 October 2013
The Celestrial Toymaker is a good story not the best but for me a worthwhile addition to my growing collection.
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