Publisher's summary Edit
"What if there were a game you didn't know you were playing? Where you didn't know the aim and you hadn't seen the rules?"
Charlotte Pollard arrives in a toyshop, but she doesn't know where she is — or even who she is. The mysterious owner wants to play games. He's the Celestial Toymaker, and he has already defeated the Doctor, whose essence is hidden inside a ventriloquist's doll.
The Doctor is gone. The TARDIS is lost. But the game is only just beginning...
The Celestial Toymaker sits in his shop playing solitaire, laying cards down. "And... go."
The bell rings as Charlotte Pollard enters. The Toymaker welcomes her and asks if she wants to buy something. Charley doesn't remember who she is or why she's in the shop. There was someone with her and he was worried, but she quickly forgets this. She browses the shop as the Toymaker explains that he has every toy and game. She assumes she's there to buy something for a child, since she herself is too old, but the Toymaker claims no one is too old for games.
Charley finds a doll with a pull-string. She pulls it, and is surprised to hear it cry out "Help me! I'm trapped forever! Get out! He's going to make you like me!" The Toymaker becomes irritated, telling her it's a gift for a child you don't like, before swiftly taking it from her and breaking it, claiming that "it was defective" and that he "[does] not sell defective merchandise." Charley then finds a ventriloquist dummy next to a cupboard and finds it interesting. The Toymaker says he fashioned it in the image of "an old acquaintance" as a jest, believing that said acquaintance would not like the idea of being a dummy. Charley decides to try out the doll, but as soon as he puts her hand inside it, it says in her voice: "Charley! It's me! It's the Doctor!" She doesn't know why she made it say that, but remembers something about a Doctor.
The Toymaker then offers her a riddle. She doesn't understand, eventually trying to match him but failing to do so. She makes to leave, but the Toymaker offers the chance to play a game, "the biggest game in town." The game is one where you don't even know you're playing, and have no knowledge of the rules or the aim. Finding the aim of the game is the aim of the game. Charley, annoyed by the Toymaker's constant riddles, decides to leave the shop, but the Toymaker informs her she'll be back. She repeatedly attempts to exit the shop through the front door, only to enter an identical shop with the Toymaker inside every time. In her frustration she refuses to play. The Toymaker addresses someone else, saying "Game? She doesn't want to play." There is a crunching sound and a voice booms "PLAY!" The Toymaker explains that the shop has been reduced to 90% of its original size, and will do so with every wrong move or attempt to cheat until Charley wins. If she fails, she'll be crushed when it reaches 0%. As a time limit, it will also shrink at irregular intervals. Charley asks if that wouldn't result in the Toymaker losing too, as he would be crushed to death along with her, but the Toymaker explains that having his body destroyed is merely a minor inconvenience for him; he is immortal and if his body should die, he will just temporarily lose physical form and be able to later reappear in a new body.
Reluctantly, Charley agrees to play the game. The Toymaker advises her not to guess. She figures the object must be to escape. Charley begins to search through the shop and move things around, much to the Toymaker's annoyance, until she finds a door hidden behind some boxes in the back room barred with a mental bar, though the Toymaker claims that it is not the exit. She still tries it, only to find that the bar is electrified. She finds the generator, and pulls the plug. Behind the door is another one with a keypad, accessible only with the correct four-letter word.
Charley tries "game", "toys", "exit", and others. The Toymaker goads her with hints that she needs "the correct word". Charley seethes with frustration as the realisation dawns on her. She types in "word", and sounds announce she's won. The door opens, only to reveal a third door. The Toymaker informs her that this is the last door, and this one is also blocked by a metal bar, but on the other side where she cannot reach it. Charley, however, cobbles an improvised electromagnet together, using the first metal bar and the generator, and manages to pull off the other bar off the door with it. Believing herself to be in the clear, she bids the Toymaker goodbye, and walks through the door, only to walk back in through the shop's front door again. Gloatingly, the Toymaker says he was telling the truth when he claimed that it was not the exit and points out that she has now tried every door in the shop, telling her that escape might not be the real goal of the game.
Charley, however, points out that she have not actually tired every door in the shop; there is still the cupboard, which also has a door. The Toymaker, however, attempts to discourage her from going through it, claiming she will die if she does so. Not sure about whether or not the Toymaker is lying, Charley decides to test it first. She tells the Toymaker to hand her the ventriloquist dummy. As soon as she has it her hands, it suddenly shouts in her voice: "Charley, don't! You don't know what you're doing!" But Charley just shushes it, and says that if she puts it through the door first, she can see what happens. The dummy starts desperately protesting against this plan, but Charley refuses to listen to it. The Toymaker merely states with a shrug that he can't stop her from doing it, and tells her to go ahead if she really wants to. Despite the doll's continued protests, Charley stills throws it through the door.
After a moment of silence, the Toymaker suddenly thanks her and states that he didn't lie. The cupboard is in fact a disintegration chamber, and by throwing the dummy inside it, she has caused its complete obliteration. Charley is relieved she didn't went inside it, but the Toymaker says she is speaking too soon: "That doll contained the essence of the one being that could have saved you. That essence no longer exists." He says that with her action she has unwittingly killed the Doctor, and that means she has lost the game and is now going to be his prisoner for all eternity. Gloatingly, he declares: "Game over!" and laughs in triumph.
However; no sooner than the Toymaker has made this declaration, the room shrinks once again as the Game states that another time interval has passed, before again bellowing: "Play!" The Toymaker is confused by this, and addressing the Game again, he tries to get an explanation, protesting that Charley has clearly lost and the contest therefore should be over, but the answer is only the same repeated demand of "Play!" Aghast at the Game disobeying him, the Toymaker gets angry, but then the shop shrinks once again, as the Game merely states "If you do not choose to play, then you will be punished!" Charley asks what is going on, and the Toymaker, frustrated and angry, answer that he does not understand what is happening; he should have won the contest and she should have been transformed into a doll. "Maybe I didn't lose, then," tries Charley, but the Toymaker just snarls "Of course you lost!" in response. Charley points out that the Game clearly does not think so, and maybe it knows its own rules better than he does.
more to be added
- The Toymaker's riddle is about taking double letters to the Moon:
- "I went to the Moon and I took a riddle, but I did not take a joke."
- "I went to the Moon and I took a toyroom, but I did not take a TARDIS."
- "I went to the Moon and I took Charlotte Pollard, but I did not take the Doctor."
- "I went to the Moon and I took Orson Welles, but I did not take Edith Thompson."
- Outside the Toyshop is the Void.
Story notes Edit
- According to the Big Finish Podcast, the puppet Eighth Doctor on the cover was created by Alex Mallinson.
- This is one of only two Companion Chronicles to feature the Eighth Doctor, the other being The Elixir of Doom.
- Along with The Time Museum and The Jigsaw War, this is one of only three Companion Chronicles not to feature any narration. All three are full cast audio dramas with only two speaking parts.
- This is the first Companion Chronicle to star a companion created by Big Finish Productions.
- This audio drama was recorded on 15 January 2010.
- The First Doctor previously visited the Celestial Toyroom in the company of Steven Taylor and Dodo Chaplet. (TV: The Celestial Toymaker) In the interim, the Doctor encountered the Celestial Toymaker in Blackpool in 1986 during his sixth incarnation (AUDIO: The Nightmare Fair) and in Switzerland in 1926 during his seventh incarnation (AUDIO: The Magic Mousetrap).
- The Toymaker refers to Orson Welles (AUDIO: Invaders from Mars), Edith Thompson (AUDIO: The Chimes of Midnight), the Nimon (AUDIO: Seasons of Fear) and the Solarians and Cimmerians (AUDIO: Embrace the Darkness).
- The Eleventh Doctor's companion Amy Pond was later turned into a doll in a similar manner to the Eighth Doctor. (TV: Night Terrors)