Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Inspirations - The Celestial Toymaker

This is the first story to be produced by Innes Lloyd - according to the end credits at least - and the first to be written by Brian Hayles (which means that the story editor has had a lot of input). It was commissioned by Gerry Davis' predecessor - Donald Tosh.
The series hadn't done all-out fantasy before, so Tosh was looking for something with a surreal or absurdist streak.
As a starting point, Hayles and Tosh looked to a play by the name of George and Margaret. This was written by Gerald Savory, and was made into a movie in 1940, and if you take a look at the cast list you might notice that there's no-one named George or Margaret in it. That's because this pair of characters are expected throughout the play but never turn up. (It should be noted that Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot wouldn't premiere until 1953).
Tosh thought it would be a good idea if George and Margaret did turn up in Hayles' story. They ran their ideas past the BBC's Head of Drama, and he was happy initially. His name - Gerald Savory. However, once he saw the draft script outlines he got cold feet. This is when Gerry Davis stepped in and performed a total rewrite. Hayles was paid off, but allowed to keep the credit.

The plan was for the Doctor to embark on a battle of wills against his most powerful foe to date. This character became the Celestial Toymaker - an immortal, amoral being who played sadistic games. Those who failed would be turned into his playthings for all eternity.
Whilst he was still involved, ex-producer John Wiles had come up with an idea to get rid of William Hartnell, who had been making his life a misery. The fantastical element of this story meant that the Doctor could be rendered invisible and mute by the Toymaker, then brought back as an entirely different actor. The BBC top brass decided not to remove Hartnell - at least not yet. There is a rumour that he was issued a new contract by accident, and they couldn't go back on it.
The Toymaker - played by Michael Gough - is based on the Victorian / Edwardian magicians who dressed in Mandarin costumes - usually British or American, but pretending to be Chinese. Gough clearly isn't playing the Toymaker as Chinese, and there's no make-up to make him look Asian. Just compare with Kevin Stoney's make-up as Mavic Chen.
Some of these stage magicians favoured the turban - such as Alexander "Who Knows All" - to show how they had learned their craft from eastern mystics, but an American named William Ellsworth Robinson took on the guise of a Chinaman named Chung Ling Soo. He's best remembered for the end of his career, when he was shot dead on stage during his famous catch-a-bullet act (at the Wood Green Empire, in March 1918).
Spelt with a capital 'C', Celestial meant relating to China or its people - hence the Victorian magician's outfit. He's an immortal god-like being, so is just putting this look on for the benefit of the Doctor, Steven and Dodo.

One of the problems of the earlier drafts was that Steven and Dodo had little to do. With the Doctor made invisible and mute, allowing Hartnell a holiday, the companions are brought to the fore. They are the ones who have to play the games against the Toyroom characters to win back the TARDIS. The same four actors play all of these. The principal pair - Campbell Singer and Carmen Silvera - had been cast originally as George and Margaret, but now play the King and Queen of Hearts, Joey and Clara the clowns, and Sgt Rugg and Mrs Wiggs.
Inspiration for much of the episodes comes from children's games. Clara and Joey compete with Steven and Dodo in a sort of obstacle course - having to avoid touching the floor. Steven and Joey are blindfolded for this - so Blind Man's Buff (sometimes Bluff). Against the Hearts Family - based on the traditional playing card "face cards" - they play a form of musical chairs. Except there isn't any music, and they have to avoid the chairs rather than grab one. All the chairs are deadly, bar one. Peter Stephens is the Knave of Hearts, and he also plays another couple of characters later.
The next game is Hunt the Thimble - in this case the key to get through a door to the next challenge, hidden somewhere in Mrs Wigg's kitchen. Sgt Rugg's outfit comes from the Napoleonic Wars, and he mentions the Duke of Wellington. Mrs Wiggs appears to come out of Victorian literature - the sort of incidental character beloved of Charles Dickens. She could equally be a character from the Happy Families card game.

The first three episodes of The Celestial Toymaker are lost - some would say mercifully so. The kitchen episode on audio comprises about 15 minutes of crockery smashing, so I don't think we are missing much. For the final game, Steven and Dodo are pitched against an obnoxious schoolboy named Cyril (Stephens again). He's clearly based on Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School, the character who featured in The Magnet comic between 1908 and 1940. He was created by Frank Richards (pen name of Charles Hamilton), who some see as a possible inspiration for the Master of the Land of Fiction in The Mind Robber - the only other occasion they go for fantasy in the 1960's. After part four, in which he appears, the BBC continuity announcer had to state that the likeness was unintentional. Bunter was played on TV by Gerald Campion between 1952 - 1961. Campion appears in the never-finished Shada.
The game Steven and Dodo play against Cyril is a form of roll-the-dice game - like Snakes & Ladders - only over an electrified floor. Cyril refers to it as "TARDIS Hopscotch".

The Doctor, meanwhile, has been playing his own game - the Trilogic Game. This is based on the real Tower of Hanoi puzzle. You move a pyramid of discs around three pegs, one at a time and not allowing a larger disc to go on top of a smaller one, until the pyramid is rebuilt on peg 3. There is a legend that in a Brahmin temple in India, some priests are playing a version with 64 discs, and that when the final move is made the world will end. Apparently the mathematical solution for the minimal number of moves is 2 to the power of x minus 1, where x = the number of discs.
Harnell comes back from his holidays in time to end his game - except that to make the final move will cause the Toyroom to vanish, with he and his companions still in it. Steven gives him the idea of making the move by imitating the Toymaker's voice from the safety of the TARDIS.
The Doctor expects a rematch, but the Toymaker never returned to televised Doctor Who. He was due back during Colin Baker's tenure, in a story called "The Nightmare Fair", to be played again by Michael Gough, but the series was rested for a year and came back with the Trial format instead. The Toymaker has featured in audio stories.
Next time - there's another Holliday for the Doctor. People keep giving him guns and he wishes they wouldn't. Steven has Regrets whilst Dodo tickles some ivories, and everyone's in the Last Chance Saloon - in more ways than one...

Sunday, 17 September 2017

C is for... Chase, Harrison

A plant-obsessed millionaire encountered by the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith. Chase lived on a huge estate with his own private army. When a senior member of the World Ecology Bureau who was in his pay informed him of the recent discovery of a seed pod in the Antarctic, Chase was determined to have it for his collection. He sent one of his biologists - Keeler - to the South Pole, accompanied by a mercenary named Scorby, to seize it by any means.
Back in the UK, the Doctor traced Chase after finding a plant painting in the boot of the car which had been sent to waylay him. The artist was able to tell him that it had been bought by Chase - and he hadn't yet paid for it. Chase was determined to propagate the alien seed, and was prepared to let it use Sarah as a host, after hearing how it had infected one of the scientists at the Antarctic. The Doctor had identified the pod as a Krynoid seed. These plant forms consumed flesh and blood, and destroyed all animal life on planets where they became established.
Chase composed music for his plants, and disposed of his enemies by feeding them to a compost machine which spread their remains throughout is gardens.
Keeler became host to the Krynoid, and Chase nurtured his transformation. As the creature grew, it could influence local plant-life, and Chase fell under its mental sway. He no longer saw himself as human, but at one with the plant world. He did everything in his power to protect the Krynoid. When he tried to kill the Doctor in the compost machine, he fell into it himself and was crushed to death - so ended up feeding his own garden.

Played by: Tony Beckley. Appearances: The Seeds of Doom (1976).

  • Beckley is probably best remembered for the role of Camp Freddie in The Italian Job (1969).
  • His career was just taking off in Hollywood (one of his last roles was in one of the Pink Panther movies) when he died in 1979, aged only 50.

C is for... Charlie

A pupil at Coal Hill Academy who hid a terrible secret. He was really the last survivor of an alien race - the Rhodians. He had been their prince. They were all wiped out by the Shadow Kin. Prior to this, the Rhodians had fought a war against the Quill, who they regarded as little more than terrorists. A captured Quill was genetically connected to a Rhodian, so that they could never harm them. This was achieved through the use of a parasite that was introduced to their brain. Charlie and his Quill were rescued from the destruction of Rhodia by the Doctor, and he placed them at Coal Hill. He knew that his many visits to the area had weakened Space and Time here, and the Earth needed protection from what might come through here. Miss Quill became one of the teachers, whilst Charlie became a pupil. They shared a home together.
Charlie was very naive, and had little knowledge about popular culture on the Earth. He was also gay - befriending a fellow student named Matteusz - whom he took to the school prom, and later slept with. Had he stayed at home, his parents would have arranged a marriage for him.

Charlie was the custodian of a device known as the Cabinet of Souls. This contained the spirits of all the dead Rhodians, with the possibility of bringing them all back. However, to do so would require an equal number of lives to be extinguished, and the Shadow Kin suspected that it could be used as a weapon against them. As such, they launched a number of attacks on Charlie and his friends through the space / time fissures at the school.
When the friends were put into detention by Miss Quill, Charlie revealed that he suffered from claustrophobia. An alien entity in a meteorite fragment caused them to be transported to a mysterious void. Handling the rock caused people to reveal the things they felt most guilty about - and for Charlie this was his desire for revenge against the Shadow Kin - even if using the Cabinet to do so would mean he lost the respect of Matteusz. The entity was a prisoner, and it wanted Charlie to take its place, as his was the greatest guilt out of all the group. He was saved by Miss Quill, who had now managed to remove the parasite from her brain.
When the Shadow Kin started to kill the relatives of his friends, Charlie was finally compelled to open the Cabinet, destroying them. As he had been infected by the Shadow Kin, he expected to die as well, but survived.

Played by: Greg Austin. Appearances: Class 1.1 to 1.8 (2016).

C is for... Chaplet, Dodo

Companion to the First Doctor. Dodo - full name Dorothea - was an orphan who lived with an aunt. She claimed that neither of them got on well. One day, whilst walking on Wimbledon Common, she witnessed a road accident and ran into a Police Call Box to summon help. This proved to be the TARDIS, which had just travelled from 16th Century Paris. Steven had stormed out, thinking the Doctor had sent Anne Chaplet to her death. On his return, he was surprised to hear Dodo's surname, and took it as a sign that Anne had lived. Dodo also claimed that she had a French grandfather. To the Doctor, Dodo reminded him somewhat of his granddaughter Susan.
Dodo had little respect for the rules around time travel, and left the ship before the Doctor could take readings when it landed in the biodome of the Ark, in the far distant future. She did not believe they had travelled in time, and thought they were in Whipsnade Zoo. She had also helped herself to an outfit from the ship's wardrobe - a medieval page costume. Dodo had a cold, and this proved deadly to the humans and Monoids who crewed the Ark, as they came from a time when they had no immunity to it. Dodo was horrified that the deaths were due to her. Later, she discovered that her cold had caused the Monoids to become dominant, enslaving the human Guardians.

When the TARDIS landed in the domain of the Toymaker, Dodo was shown the occasion of her mother's death - her lowest moment. When forced to play lethal games against the Toyroom characters, Dodo often sympathised with them - pointing out that they had been human once and were victims of the Toymaker. She could be impulsive - sitting on a booby-trapped chair which almost froze her to death, when she knew the chairs were deadly. She was also easily taken in by the tricks perpetrated by the schoolboy Cyril - almost forfeiting the final game.
The TARDIS next landed in Tombstone, Arizona, where Dodo revealed an interest in the Wild West, and that she had always wanted to meet Wyatt Earp. She and Steven donned stylised versions of the local fashions. The Doctor claimed that they were travelling entertainers - Dodo being Miss Dodo DuPont. She was able to play the piano in the local saloon as part of their charade. When Dodo was abducted by Doc Holliday she was able to stand up to him, even threatening to shoot him if he didn't take her back to Tombstone. This had just been a bluff, and she was relieved when he agreed to take her back. During the famous gunfight at the OK Corral, Dodo managed to get in the way and was used as a shield by Johnny Ringo, but was saved by Holliday.
On the alien planet where the Elders ruled, Dodo accompanied Steven on a look around the city, and decided to go off on her own - hating guided tours. She saw how the Elders were siphoning off the life-force of the primitive Savages, and warned the others. She was heartbroken at having to say goodbye to Steven when he agreed to stay on as the planet's new ruler.

The TARDIS next took Dodo and the Doctor back to her own time - the London of 1966. The Doctor pretended that she was his secretary when they visited Professor Brett at the top of the Post Office Tower. His new super-computer, WOTAN, was about to take over the human race, and wanted the Doctor to help it. Dodo was recruited to assist - being hypnotised over the telephone when she went to the Inferno night club with Brett's secretary Polly. Dodo's attempts to ensnare the Doctor failed, and he realised that she had been hypnotised. He broke the mental conditioning, and Sir Charles Summer agreed to send her to his home in the country to recuperate. Dodo decided to remain on Earth in her own time, and sent a message to the Doctor via Sir Charles, to be delivered by Polly. The Doctor was furious that she should want to leave without saying goodbye in person.

Played by: Jackie Lane. Appearances: The Massacre to The War Machines (1966).

  • Lane had earlier auditioned for the role of Susan back in 1963.
  • She retired from acting to become a theatrical agent, having Tom Baker and Janet Fielding on her books.
  • She's the only surviving companion actor of the classic series not to have done a Big Finish audio. 
  • Dodo's is without doubt the worst companion departure in the whole of the series - being dumped half way through her final story.

C is for... Chaplet, Anne

A servant girl from the household of the Abbot of Amboise, in Paris, 1572. She was a Huguenot, from the town of Vassy. A notorious massacre had taken place here some years ago, when the Catholic Guise killed many Protestants. Anne overheard the town being mentioned by the Abbot, and suspected that a similar atrocity was being planned for Paris. She ran away, and fell into the company of some young Huguenots whom Steven Taylor had befriended. She told them of what she had heard, and they tried to warn Admiral de Coligny, France's most influential Huguenot. She helped Steven get into the Abbot's household, where he was surprised to find that the elderly cleric looked just like the Doctor. She went on the run with him after he became hunted by both the Catholic forces and the Huguenots, who now suspected him due to his belief that the Abbot was the Doctor. Anne took Steven to the apothecary shop of Charles Preslin, where he was reunited with the Doctor. On learning the date, the Doctor sent her away, telling her to keep off the streets for a few days.
Later, in the TARDIS, Steven learned of the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre, and believed that the Doctor had sent Anne to her doom. However, he soon met a girl whose name suggested that Anne might indeed have survived.

Played by: Annette Robertson. Appearances: The Massacre (1966).

  • There is a fan-theory that Steven might have slept with Anne, which would make him Dodo's ancestor. Had Anne given birth to a son, and remained unmarried, this would explain how the surname got passed down.

C is for... Chantho

Last surviving member of the Malmooth race - blue-skinned bipedal creatures with insectoid features. They had lived in vast cities - known as Conglomerations - carved out of the rock on the planet Malcassairo. She assisted Professor Yana in the human outpost which was set up on the planet at the end of the universe, around the year 100 Trillion. The Professor was trying to help these last survivors of the human race reach a place known as Utopia, where other survivors might be found.
Chantho's people had a ritualised way of speaking - she prefaced everything she said with "Chan-" and ended it with "-Tho". Presumably this is where she got her name from, or it may have been that other Malmooth topped and tailed their conversation with parts of their names. Martha at one point got her not to do this, but she found it rather embarrassing to do so.
The Professor had decided that he wasn't going to go with the humans when they left, and the fiercely loyal Chantho would have stayed with him. However, Yana turned out to be the Master, having used a Chameleon Arch to turn himself into a human in order to escape the Time War. Once he opened his fob watch and became the Master once again, he turned on Chantho, attacking her with a live power cable. As she died, she was able to shoot him - forcing him to regenerate.

Played by: Chipo Chung. Appearances: Utopia (2007).

  • Chung was able to return to the programme the following year, without any prosthetics, as the Fortune Teller in Turn Left
  • Ironically, she features in the TV series Into The Badlands as a character called The Master.

C is for... Chang Lee

A young man who was a member of a street gang, in San Francisco, 1999. He and some friends were ambushed in an alleyway by a rival gang. Chang Lee was saved by the sudden materialisation of the TARDIS. He witnessed the rival gang members shooting down the Doctor. He accompanied him to hospital where he took possession of his belongings, after claiming to be a friend of his. When the Master took over the body of the ambulance driver, Bruce, he sought out the boy. The Master was able to win him over, claiming that the Doctor was evil, and had stolen the body intended for him. Chang Lee then assisted the Master in tracking down the regenerated Doctor, who was being helped by Dr Grace Holloway.
In the TARDIS, Chang Lee started to doubt the story he had been told, and came over to the Doctor's side. The Master killed him, but the TARDIS was later able to bring him back to life. The Doctor advised him not to be anywhere near San Francisco the following New Year, and Chang Lee was allowed to keep the bag of gold dust which the Master had earlier given to him, so he could start a new life.

Played by: Yee Jee Tso. Appearances: Doctor Who (The TV Movie) 1996.