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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > The Essential Doctor Who 15: Relative Dimensions > TOY STORY


The inter-dimensional Celestial Toymaker was due to return in 1986 before the planned story disappeared into another dimension entirely…
What might have been – the Celestial Toymaker (Michael Gough) lures Peri (Nicola Bryant) and the Doctor (Colin Baker) to Blackpool.

One of the most fascinating and frustrating parallel paths not taken is the planned Season 23 of Doctor Who, which was lost to the production hiatus of 1985. The storylines in development were scrapped in favour of the all-new 1986 marathon The Trial of a Time Lord, and the most developed of them all was The Nightmare Fair.

The story was inspired by a promotional trip to Blackpool undertaken by the show’s producer John Nathan-Turner and Sixth Doctor Colin Baker. The occasion was Baker’s opening of a new ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, the seaside town’s theme park, on Tuesday 21 August 1984. Assisted by promotions girls in spacey PVC costumes, Baker unveiled a galactic-themed rollercoaster called the Space Invader.

Conceiving a story set in the theme park, Nathan-Turner chose Graham Williams, his predecessor as Doctor Who producer, to develop the idea. Interviewed by the fanzine DWB in April 1985, Williams recalled the story’s genesis: “I was phoned up, out of a clear blue sky, by one Eric Saward [series script editor], asking me if I’d like to write a script. He said would I try and devise a story to feature the Toymaker… And he said, ‘Furthermore, John would like, if it’s possible, to feature the funfair at Blackpool.’”

The Celestial Toymaker had first appeared in a surreal 1966 serial bearing his name, starring Michael Gough as the titular villain. Accordingly, Saward sent Williams the original camera scripts and the serial’s surviving episode, The Final Test. Gough, incidentally, had worked with the current production team on the 1983 story Arc of Infinity.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Doctor Who’s creators envisaged a series that would go forwards, backwards and sideways in time. The Doctor’s trips to parallel universes and alternative dimensions have provided the show with some of its best-loved adventures – from its black-and-white beginnings to the latest episodes, starring Jodie Whittaker. Uncover the background to these memorable journeys and explore the greatest stories beyond the television series in this lavish publication, which is packed full of exclusive features and rare images.