DOCTOR WHO: 10 Things You Might Not Know About THE CELESTIAL TOYMAKER - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad


Geek Dave uncovers a dastardly plan to replace the First Doctor...

1. In 1965 Brian Hayles submitted four stories to Doctor Who. The first came in February of that year when the then series editor Dennis Spooner commissioned him to write a story called The Dark Planet, which ended up being dropped quite quickly (but was later resurrected by Big Finish). The Celestial Toymaker followed during the summer and then The White Witch and The Hands Of Aten in November. All three of the stories were commissioned by Spooner's replacement, Donald Tosh, but the latter two were dropped in January 1966.

The concept of The Celestial Toymaker was much liked by both Tosh and producer John Wiles, and Hayles was asked to develop it into full scripts. Wiles and Tosh thought that the serial's fantastical nature might be the perfect way to solve their William Hartnell shaped problem - in short the pair, who had butted heads with Hartnell since arriving on the series, hatched up a plan to recast the Doctor during this adventure!

2. To accommodate their idea and to minimise the excessive effects needed to do justice to Brian Hayles finished screenplay, the scripts would need extensive re-writes, but Hayles was unavailable to do the work so then script editor Donald Tosh performed them. This was usually something the BBC did not allow, but Tosh was about to step down and so would no longer be script editor by the time the story was transmitted. After extensive rewrites, Tosh agreed with Hayles to take the writer's credit, with Hayles being credited for the story idea.

3. Amongst Tosh's contributions to the storyline was the Trilogic Game, which was now the working title for the serial, and since this originated in China Tosh suggested that the Toymaker should therefore assume the appearance of a mandarin. Tosh also removed a complex sequence set in a maze, replacing it with the more affordable game of hunt the key.

Tosh structured the serial so that the Doctor would be mute and mostly invisible for much of its duration. The idea was that at the conclusion of the story the Doctor would reappear, but now played by a different actor who could take over the series from Hartnell (whose contract expired with episode four). This ending would have the additional benefit of leaving a lingering doubt in the minds of Steven and Dodo (and the viewers) as to whether the new character really was the Doctor, or part of another ploy of the Toymaker's.

It was a cunning plan indeed as William Hartnell was due a holiday during the recording of "the Trilogic Game", so he would be absent for both episodes two and three, "The Hall of Dolls" and "The Dancing Floor", meaning their 'mostly invisible' idea would work perfectly. Had Tosh and Wiles had their way, Hartnell wouldn't have returned for episode four.

4. Having completed his work on the serial, which now bore the title “The Toymaker” before being restored to the original The Celestial Toymaker, Tosh left on holiday. Wiles then made a few final modifications to the scripts, which he believed were running a bit short. But when the BBC's head of serials, Gerald Savory, heard of Wiles and Tosh's idea to replace William Hartnell he vetoed it and gave Hartnell a contract extension instead.

This led to Tosh speeding up his departure from Doctor Who and leaving in December 1965, with soon-to-be Cyberman creator Gerry Davis taking over the role of Doctor Who script editor. Wiles also quit, handing over the reigns to Innes Lloyd in February 1966, before The Celestial Toymaker was recorded. The serial would be Lloyd's first onscreen Doctor Who producer credit.

5. Gerry Davis' first work as script writer saw him rebalancing The Celestial Toymaker to emphasise Steven and Dodo's roles over those of the Doctor and the Toymaker. The previous serial in production, The Ark, had gone overbudget and so Davis also had to revise the scripts so that The Celestial Toymaker could be made as cheaply as possible. Wiles, who had already handed in his notice, was aghast at all the changes, and in late February he wrote to Savory to lament that The Celestial Toymaker had not simply been abandoned altogether. Tosh would also later express his disappointment at Davis' rewrites. Episode four now bore little to no resemblance to the one Brian Hayles had submitted six months earlier, yet, as Gerry Davis was unable to take credit for the extensive rewrite, this final episode was credited solely to Hayles.

6. Soon after Innes Lloyd took over from John Wiles a major problem arose surrounding what would be his first Doctor Who story.

One of the central elements of Hayles' storyline, which still remained intact throughout all the script amendments, was the appearance of characters named George and Margaret. These were drawn from a Thirties play entitled George And Margaret by none other than the BBC's head of serials Gerald Savory, he who had just given Hartnell a new contract. The gimmick of Savory's play was that although the entire story revolved around the imminent arrival of the eponymous characters, the play ended just as they were about to appear. Hayles thought it would be amusing to have George and Margaret finally seen as pawns of the Toymaker who would play various games against Steven and Dodo.

Unfortunately, less than a month before the start of production on The Celestial Toymaker, Savory withdrew his permission for George and Margaret to appear, despite the fact that two actors (Campbell Singer and Carmen Silvera - who you may remember later played Rene's long suffering wife Edith on 'Allo 'Allo) had already been cast in the roles. With Hayles still unavailable, Gerry Davis was forced to make major changes to the scripts. In so doing, he replaced George and Margaret with various other pairs of characters who could be played by Singer and Silvera (the clowns Joey and Clara, the King and Queen of Hearts, and Sergeant Rugg and Mrs Wiggs).

7. Hartnell's relationship with Lloyd and Davis was much more cordial than with their predecessors, and, although the plans to replace Hartnell had been long dropped, the actor was still afforded his two weeks' holidays during the recording of episodes two and three. Pre-recordings of Hartnell's voice were heard in episode two, with Albert Ward standing in as a hand double (sporting the Doctor's ring) for scenes where the mostly invisible Doctor played the Trilogic Game throughout the story.

8. Episode three, The Dancing Floor deviated from Davis' scripted intentions. The writer had indicated that the character of Cyril should be clad in the manner of the Artful Dodger from Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, but in the event the decision was made to dress the actor who was playing the role, Peter Stephens, like Billy Bunter, the beloved children's character created by the late Frank Richards. To reinforce the image, Stephens uttered an unscripted line of dialogue relating that Cyril's friends call him “Billy”.

Unfortunately, following the episodes broadcast a complaint from Richards' estate was received. There was concern that Doctor Who was attempting to portray Billy Bunter as an evil character. To mollify Richards' representatives, a continuity announcement was aired after the final episode of The Celestial Toymaker emphasising that Cyril was not intended to be Billy Bunter, but was merely imitating the character.

9. Following the completion of The Celestial Toymaker, the Trilogic Game prop came into the possession of Peter Purves, who was very pleased with Steven's increased importance in the serial. Unfortunately, after leaving Doctor Who, Purves endured a year and a half without work and came to see the Trilogic Game as the source of his bad luck. He finally discarded the prop, and ironically was rewarded with a role in Z Cars the following day.

10. All episodes of this story except episode four, "The Final Test", are now sadly missing presumed wiped, meaning very little footage exists of Michael Gough's only appearance in the role of the Toymaker. Gough later returned to Doctor Who, appearing as Councillor Hedin in the Fifth Doctor story Arc of Infinity in 1983. This led to discussions to bring him back once again as the Toymaker for the planned first story of Season Twenty-Three.

This story was to be “The Nightmare Fair”, written by ex-Doctor Who producer Graham Williams. Sadly, Doctor Who was put on hiatus by the BBC before production began, and all the original plans for that season were ultimately abandoned (although some years later Big Finish resurrected the story).

He may have missed out on a 1980s return as the Toymaker, but Michael Gough went on to one of his most famour roles, that of Alfred the Butler in Tim Burton's 1989 cinematic take on Batman.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad