Audio Go have just released a boxed set of Lost Episodes on CD. These are stories from the early days of Who where the video has been lost, but the audio track still remains. There are a few stories included in it, so rather than post one big review, I’ll be breaking it down and reviewing each story individually.
Today we'll be looking at The Celestial Toymaker.
Listening to this story, I could not help but imagine what would happen if it was pitched to a television executive today.
This story is so downright bonkers, out there and disturbing that I’m convinced there is no way it would ever be commissioned today.
Briefly- the TARDIS is pulled out of Space and Time by the titular Toymaker, and the inhabitants forced to take part in various strange games – the prize being their lives! As with The Massacre, this adventure also has The Doctor missing from the middle two episodes, but this time the rather delightful reason behind this (as told in the liner notes) is that Hartnell took a fortnights holiday.
So in the middle two episodes, the Doctor is nothing but a disembodied hand as he moves the pieces on the ‘trilogic’ board game he is playing for his life! Meanwhile, companions Steven and Dodo are encountering a series of strange characters. The best among them being the Billy Bunter ‘inspired’ Cyril. He is deliciously played by Peter Stephens, who positively oozes threat and menace, even in the most innocent of lines.
Meanwhile, Michael Gough sparks off Hartnell superbly in the rols of the Toymaker.
While I had been aware of this story, I had never read the it, so came into this blind, and I have to say, the construction of the piece- using Peter Purvis to provide descriptive narration for the action sequences- works perfectly.
This is crazy stuff. It is well worth seeking out and is a worthy addition to your Who library.