The recent casting announcement of Neil Patrick Harris has got Doctor Who fans excited! According to Russell T Davies, he will play “the greatest enemy the Doctor has ever faced”. With lots of clues and set pictures, many believe he will bring the Toymaker to our screens for the first time since the 60s. This classic villain remains as iconic as ever despite only ever officially appearing in one televised story. Surprisingly, only one single episode remains intact from that story. However, the character has proven popular in the extended universe with multiple terrifying and dangerous appearances. But Who is the Celestial Toymaker?
The Toymaker is an immortal, god-like being that has existed for so long that nobody knows its true origins. Some say they were born before time itself, others say they were born in another universe. One of the most interesting takes is that they are a basic element of the fabric of the universe. They’re considered to be like the Black and White Guardians, with the Toymaker being the Crystal Guardian. The Toymaker, itself, explains that they got bored of using their powers to create and destroy, so found a new interest in games. For a being so old, it makes sense that their origins can be so widely speculated and unclear.
The mysterious entity has had multiple run-ins with the Doctor over the years. One of the most important was in the novel, Divided Loyalties. The Doctor and his Academy friends, Rallon and Millennia found information on the legendary being in the Time Lord data banks, so they stole a TARDIS and went to find him. Upon their arrival in the Toyroom, the Toymaker existed as a dormant entity but possessed Rallon and made Millennia a living toy. The Doctor escaped, leaving his friends to a fate worse than death. They would get their rematch years later when the First Doctor returns to the Toyroom with Steven and Dodo.
The Toymaker next met the Twelfth Doctor in the comic Relative Dimensions. The Toyroom grew so old that it began to break down and would leave the Toymaker alone in the universe. During a game of Truth or Dare, the Toymaker dares the Doctor to forfeit his TARDIS so it can contain the Toyroom. The Doctor obliges, lets the TARDIS materialise around the Toyroom, and then jettisons it into space. It’s enough to keep the Toymaker contained…for now
Their next meeting was with the Fifth Doctor, later in the novel Divided Loyalties. The Doctor receives a psychic message from Rallon and returns to his old friend. After so many years, Rallon’s body is dying. The Toymaker needs a new host and he has his eyes on the Doctor. During this confrontation Rallon manages to gain enough control to force himself through multiple regenerations and push the Toymaker out. The entity survives and flees to Earth.
Now on Earth, the Toymaker sets up a base in Blackpool for the story, The Nightmare Fair. This story should have appeared in season twenty-three. Instead, it was revived as an audio drama for Big Finish and adapted as a novel. Here, the Toymaker faces the Sixth Doctor and Peri in a plot to take control of humanity using video games.
In the comic, Endgame, the Toymaker traps the Eighth Doctor and makes him play their games for a reality-warping machine called Imagineum. During their games, the Doctor uses the Imagineum to make a double of the Toymaker, trapping them in an eternal stalemate.
Sometime after this, the Toymaker captures the TARDIS and turns the Eighth Doctor into a doll. In the audio, Solitaire, it’s up to Charley Pollard to save him. The Toymaker has a twist up their sleeve with these games. If Charley takes too long to answer or gives an incorrect answer, the Toyroom shrinks by ten per cent. Charley manages to use this to trap and kill the Toymaker when the room shrinks to zero per cent.
Finally, the Celestial Toymaker last meets the Seventh Doctor in the audio, The Magic Mousetrap. Along with companions Ace and Hex, the Doctor ends up in a sanitarium in the Swiss Alps. It’s a twisted story and it would spoil a shocking and fairly sinister experience by saying too much here. Though, does this answer the question of Who is the Celestial Toymaker?
Now you know exactly why the Celestial Toymaker is such an important villain for the Doctor. With so much history between them, there’s a lot to explore should they return to the show. Hopefully, we’ll soon find out if Neil Patrick Harris is definitely playing the iconic villain. From the look of the filming in Bristol his character is as playful, unhinged and fun as you’d expect from someone playing the Toymaker. As for the difference in costume, the character was in urgent need of an update since their original costume is problematic in the modern-day and the new style works very well. You can watch our video from the location here.