Doctor Who: The Original Season 23 - THE NIGHTMARE FAIR

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All this week Christopher Morley looks back at the original season 23 of Doctor Who, the one planned before the show's temporary cancellation, starting today with The Nightmare Fair...


Roll the credits as we begin a series looking back at the original Season 23- that is to say, the plans which were laid before Trial Of A Time Lord came along & changed the game! Occupying the slot given over to The Mysterious Planet would have been a trip to Blackpool for The Nightmare Fair & with it the Celestial Toymaker.

Written by Graham Williams, the story would have followed on from Revelation Of The Daleks- hence the Doctor's line at the end about going to the home of the Pleasure Beach being cut! Colin Baker had indeed opened a Space Mountain ride there, which gave producer John Nathan-Turner the idea for a narrative set therel with the Toymaker as the architect of strange goings-on............

Indeed, fun on the seafront quickly takes a surreal turn, going by a synopsis:
"Just as they're starting to enjoy themselves, the Doctor hears a voice in his head calling his name. He follows the voice to the amusement arcade, where he and Peri see a desperate Scottish woman searching for her missing son Tyrone.

Tyrone soon reappears, with no memory of having been abducted and given extensive medical tests elsewhere in the funfair; nevertheless, his temporary disappearance has attracted the attention of a young man named Kevin Stoney, whose brother recently disappeared from this very arcade."
Kevin thus becomes a temporary companion in the investigations of the Toymaker's games! The retrospective Old One has been on Earth for quite some time having warmed to the human appreciation for games, & wants to take advantage of the popularity of amusement arcades/video games for his own ends. He's clearly taken the development phase a bit too far in the process of making his own Great Game-
"The Doctor agrees to play the Great Game when the Toymaker threatens to turn Peri over as a plaything, and as he plays he comes to realize that the Toymaker has been kidnapping random humans from the funfair and analysing their biology in order to ensure that the Game is as realistic as possible.

He also realizes that the game portrays a single player, lost and alone in a hostile alien world -- and comes to understand that the Toymaker is alone in this Universe, cast out from his own by some unimaginable catastrophe. Since he is not from this Universe he obeys a different set of physical laws, and since the two Universes are receding from each other, the laws of relativity dictate that his own life span is increasing.

The Toymaker is already millions of years old, and he will live for millions more, and the isolation and loneliness have driven him mad; he long ago abandoned the empty thrills of creation and destruction, and now seeks distraction in the random hazards of game play."



He was to have been portrayed by Michael Gough, the same man who had appeared opposite William Hartnell's First Doctor in the Toymaker's origin story.


The audio adaptation by Big Finish as the first of its Lost Stories would give the man who eventually stepped into Hartnell's shoes the chance to revisit that original Season 23- which formed the first series of Lost Stories. Speaking to Digital Spy Colin Baker said:
"Obviously it would have been great to have done them. I do remember reading the script of ‘The Nightmare Fair’ and looking forward to doing it. It’s quite interesting because since then my Doctor has developed, through the writers for Big Finish, in a lot of ways that I had in mind when I was doing it on television.

The standard of writing that I’m getting now from Big Finish compares very favourably with some of the stuff I was doing on screen in the 80s. I am playing these now not in the way I’d probably be expected to play them had it been my actual second season, where I would have been more dismissive of Peri and rude to her. I’m allowing The Doctor I am now to infect the way I play those scripts. It’s a kind of meld of the two really."


A transcript of the original Graham Williams script survived, including a section at the "Galactic Adventure" ride ( a riff on "Space Mountain")..............
TANNOY: Five, four, three, two, one. Lift off.
PERI: Galactic Adventure. Hmm. Not sure I like the sound of this one. Can't we go on the Ghost Train instead?
DOCTOR: What?
PERI: What's wrong? Can you still hear it?
DOCTOR: Not now.
PERI: What sort of voice is it?
DOCTOR: Siren song. Maybe I should lash myself to the mast?
PERI: Where does it come from, this, this voice?
DOCTOR: That's what I'm trying to discover.
PERI: But where? I mean, where exactly was the last call from?
DOCTOR: About where we're standing, I'd say.
PERI: Galactic Adventure?
DOCTOR: See anything?
PERI: I'm not looking that hard.
DOCTOR: Then you presumably have failed to notice your admirer.
PERI: What?
DOCTOR: Shush. Don't look. Young man, dark hair, standing by the ticket booth.
PERI: Where?
DOCTOR: I said, don't look! He's been with us since the amusement arcade. Seemed to take quite an interest in our conversation.
PERI: What should we do?
DOCTOR: He looks harmless. Keep an eye on him, though. He's followed us this far and I suspect he'll join us on the ride. Right, time to take a trip on Galactic Adventure. Two, please.
The voice calling to the Doctor is of course that of the Toymaker, and the sparring between the two will come to recall his First incarnation at his best!


TOYMAKER: Your manners, Doctor, do not appear to have improved with time. I invite you and your travelling companion here to a few innocent games
DOCTOR: Oh ho, since when has there ever been anything innocent about your games?
TOYMAKER: And you do nothing but rail against the qualities of my poor servants? Hardly the behaviour of a true sportsman.
DOCTOR: None of your pastimes qualify as sports. And the activities in the Roman Colosseum were also called games, as I recall.
TOYMAKER: The similarities had not escaped me.
DOCTOR: I'm sure they hadn't. Well, I don't like your version any better than I liked theirs. In fact, I don't like you, Toymaker. And I don't like the vacuous way you wander through the universe, treating every intelligent species you meet like counters on a board. Roman Colosseum. How long have you been here?
TOYMAKER: Oh, not long. Fascinating world, isn't it?
DOCTOR: Yes, it is.
TOYMAKER: Your favourite, by all accounts.
DOCTOR: Yes. Is that why you came here?
TOYMAKER: The ingenuity of the locals is really quite remarkable.
DOCTOR: Is that why you came here?
TOYMAKER: And they do so love playing games. All sorts of games.
DOCTOR: Have you come here for me?
TOYMAKER: My dear Doctor, the last time we met, you were victim of your own intellectual conceit, which now seems to have developed into a full-blown paranoia. At one time, it's true, I held a passing interest in your peregrinations through time and space, but the idea that I should squat on this amusing but depressingly backward planet waiting for you to drop in, is egocentric in the extreme.
DOCTOR: You set up the space time vortex.
TOYMAKER: Doctor, I am the space time vortex!
Being the first story slated for production for the original Season 23, Williams script was by far the most advanced at the time of cancellation, there was even a director attached to the story (Matthew Robinson - who'd been behind the camera for both Resurrection of the Daleks and Attack of the Cybermen), before the axe fell.

At the end of Season 22 the BBC announced that they were cancelling the series, uproar from fans resulted in the BBC quickly changing its mind and 're-clarifying' the situation. Bill Cotton, the then Managing Director of BBC Television released a statement:
"Doctor Who will be on the air in 1986, as it was in 1985... Instead of running in January 1986, we shall wait until the start of the Autumn schedule, and then Doctor Who will be a strong item in the mix. We are also going back to the old tradition and have 25-minute programmes... I am confident that Doctor Who has a great future on BBC1"
Did you get through that without laughing?

After cancelling everything that was planned, the production team had to look to the future. Script Editor Eric Saward said:
"We then had to decide what we were going to do with 14 episodes, and the general conclusion was the trial sequence. We were on trial ourselves, so why not reflect it in the programme?"
As noted above The Nightmare Fair eventually found its way to Big Finish, there was also a novel adaptation released in 1988 by Target Books.


But what about the rest of the original Season 23? We'll pick up the proposed stories tomorrow, as we go from a very old malevolence to The Ultimate Evil.........

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