Sunday 13 March 2011

111 The Celestial Toymaker Part 1: The Celestial Toyroom

EPISODE: The Celestial Toymaker Part 1: The Celestial Toyroom
TRANSMITTED: 02 April 1966
WRITER: Brian Hayles
DIRECTOR: Bill Sellars
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection

The Tardis is in the domain of the Celestial Toymaker, a Mandarin like figure. He has compelled the crew to play his games to regain the Tardis. Steven & Dodo are forced into playing against the Toymaker's clown dolls which he has brought to life, whilst the invisible Doctor plays the Trilogic Game. Steven and Dodo win their round of Blind Man's Bluff discovering the clowns are cheating, but the Tardis they find at the end of the game is a fake.

Welcome to one of *the* oddest Doctor Who stories ever. It just sounds odd to my ear, maybe the visuals would help. Conceived as a way of pushing the boundaries of the show the story was redrafted by fist Donald Tosh and then Gerry Davis leaving it unrecognisable from what was already written. Included had been George & Margaret, characters from the play of the same name written by Gerald Savory, then head of serials at the BBC, in an attempt to flatter him. He objected and forced the final rewrite to remove them! However actors has already been cast in these roles so they needed to be utilised for these first three episodes....

The Doctor is playing the Trilogic game, based on The Towers Of Hanoi. Counters of decreasing size from top to bottom are arranged on the first post. The object is to move all the counters to the third post. Only one counter can be moved at a time. No counter can sit on one smaller than itself.

The solution for 1 counter is trivial:
Move counter 1 from Tower 1 to Tower 3. One Move.

For two counters you move:
Counter 1 from Tower 1 to Tower 2
Counter 2 from Tower 1 to Tower 3
Counter 1 from Tower 2 to Tower 3. Three moves.

For three counters you move:
Counter 1 from Tower 1 to Tower 3
Counter 2 from Tower 1 to Tower 2
Counter 1 from Tower 3 to Tower 2
Counter 3 from Tower 1 to Tower 3
Counter 1 from Tower 2 to Tower 1
Counter 2 from Tower 2 to Tower 3
Counter 1 from Tower 1 to Tower 3. Seven moves.

In fact the minimum number of moves is always one less than Two to the power of the number of counters. For 1 counter it's 2 minus 1, for two counters it's two squared minus 1, for three it's 2 cubed minus 1..... 1023, the number of moves the Doctor has, seems to indicate that he's playing with ten counters: 2 to the power of 10 is 1024. Take one away you get 1023. Yes I studied it in college as part of my Maths & Computer Science degree. It's used to teach recursion and other programming concepts.... which reminds me of the dictionary definitions:

Repetition: See Iteration

Iteration: See Repetition

Recursion: See Recursion

Well I thought they were funny. Peter Purves kept the Trilogic game after filming. Believing it was bringing him bad luck preventing him from finding work he threw it away and was the next week offered the Blue Peter job.

One of the other concepts in the story, the invisible Doctor, was meant to serve as a means to replace Hartnell with another actor. John Wiles and Hartnell never got on as several people testify, notably Peter Purves in The Ark DVD commentary. However Wiles' BBC bosses (the aforementioned Gerald Savory and his superior Sydney Newman) refused, that function of the plot had to be dropped and that was a contribution to Wiles' departure from the series. In fact this episode marks the production debut of Innes Lloyd, who inherited his first few stories from Wiles. His first decisions can be seen in The Savages episode 1, where the individual story episode titles disappear in favour of story titles, but the War Machines is a much better picture of what he was really after creatively.

So who wrote the original version? Debut author Brian Hayles. His efforts, despite later alterations, were obviously thought to be good enough as he was asked back to write the historical story The Smugglers shortly after. The next year he'd be back again with a much more memorable creation: The Ice Warriors.

1 comment:

  1. Hesitation.
    I apologise, I am deviating.. I'm not sure that I agree that having the visuals would help this story very much. The one episode we can still see doesn't really suggest it was really much cop to look at either. I like the idea of this story - children's games turned lethally serious is an idea that could have worked on a level of surreality but I'm not sure that the execution really works terribly well.