Wednesday, July 19, 2023

5 Things to Know About the Celestial Toymaker

Ever since the reveal of Neil Patrick Harris on the Doctor Who 60th Anniversary specials, fans have been speculating on who he could be playing. There is evidence to support the theory that he could be an iteration of the Toymaker from the First Doctor era. It would be an interesting choice for an anniversary villain (but I guess at least we get a break from the Master and the Daleks). But just in case Neil Patrick Harris is indeed playing the Celestial Toymaker, here are a few things to know about him.

1. Here’s the biggest reason I’d think it odd to include the Toymaker in the anniversary special: there was only one televised story that featured him (and most of it is lost). To get the full story on this master manipulator, I had to watch the audio stitched together with stills from the episode. But yeah, only one story. Though he did almost appear in the Sixth Doctor era before it got revamped into the “Trial of a Time Lord” saga.  I guess we’ll never know what was happening.

2. He’s not a Time Lord (at least as far as we know); of course during the First Doctor’s run the finer points of the Doctor’s race were vague to say the least. He’s certainly powerful though, being able to pull the TARDIS into his dimension and to pull the Doctor out of the TARDIS. He was also able to trap the Doctor, Dodo, and Steven to play a game, in addition to others (like Cyril and his playing cards). In fact, we don’t know what the limits of his powers are.

3. The Toymaker has a history with the Doctor, which we can see almost right from the start. You can look at the 1999 novel “Divided Loyalties” for further details. But basically what we know is that the Doctor and a few friends encountered him back when he was at the Academy on Gallifrey.

4. Speaking of his encounter with the young Time Lords, it’s implied in “Divided Loyalties” that the Toymaker might not have a body of his own. At the very least, when he was found by the Doctor and friends, he was a disembodied entity. He possessed the Doctor’s friend Rallon and (presumably) kept that body until he appeared in “The Celestial Toymaker” and all the way into the Fifth Doctor era.

5. His story and powers were nearly used to help recast the First Doctor, as William Hartnell was struggling with his health. This fact resulted in the first on-screen regeneration in “The Tenth Planet”. But at the time of the Toymaker, the First Doctor was turned invisible and silent to avoid the need for Hartnell during filming. This resulted in a somewhat Doctor-lite story, like the infamous Russell T. Davies stories “Love & Monsters”, “Blink”, and “Turn Left”.

Could he be the Toymaker?

Keep in mind that outside his single on-screen appearance, all information about the Toymaker would fall under the umbrella of pseudo-canon material. Maybe someday we’ll get more solid information about the Celestial Toymaker. In the meantime, the question still remains: Who is Neil Patrick Harris playing?

The Doctor Who 60th Anniversary specials will air November 2023.


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