With his return in the 2023 episode ‘The Giggle,’ the Celestial Toymaker may have left a permanent mark on the past (and future) of Doctor Who.
For those of you who don’t know, the Celestial Toymaker is a classic Doctor Who villain who made his first appearance in a story of the same name in 1966. He is immortal, with a god-like influence over the laws of physics. He is able to bend matter to his will, although in the case of the Celestial Toymaker, this usually means turning people into toys.
As you may have guessed, he is obsessed with games and delights in challenging his enemies. In ‘The Giggle,’ one major Doctor Who plot development is that the Celestial Toymaker has turned the Doctor’s old enemy the Master into a gold tooth. “The Master was dying and begged for his life with one final game,” the Toymaker explains, “and when he lost, I sealed him for all eternity inside my gold tooth.”
Presumably, he was referring to the Sacha Dhawan incarnation of the Master, who was last seen swooning on a cyber moon after a failed body-swap with his mortal enemy. He was clearly weakened and his death was implied, so it’s possible that the Celestial Toymaker could have turned up and presented him with a challenge. However, whenever this encounter took place, it did not end well for the Master, and it left him as a permanent fixture in the Toymaker’s mouth.
But as many of us know, the Master is not an easy enemy to kill, and whilst his skirmish with the Celestial Toymaker may have seemingly sealed his fate, there is a surprise twist at the end of ‘The Giggle.’ The Toymaker is defeated and banished from reality, but his gold tooth is left behind on the UNIT helipad – and an unseen figure scoops it up and whisks it away. This is a clear reference to the 2007 episode ‘Last of the Time Lords’ where a similar thing happened after the Master’s funeral, only in this case the last vestiges of the Master were trapped inside a ring.
And whilst the Celestial Toymaker may not have destroyed the Master completely, there is the small matter of the Doctor’s death to wrap our heads around. This was triggered when the Celestial Toymaker blasted the Time Lord with a galvanic beam, killing him and triggering a regeneration.
But as we know, it was a regeneration that wasn’t meant to be. The Doctor split in two (or bigenerated) and created two Doctors – the surviving Fourteenth played by David Tennant, and the Fifteenth played by Ncuti Gatwa. This has never happened in the whole of Doctor Who history, and indeed even the Doctor himself admitted that there was no such thing; bigeneration was supposed to be a myth.
So did it happen because of the Celestial Toymaker? If so, it certainly wasn’t intentional; the Toymaker was as surprised as anyone when two Doctors emerged.
But according to showrunner Russell T Davies, this bigeneration has impacted the whole Doctor Who timeline. “I think all of the Doctors came back to life with their individual TARDISes, the gift of the Toymaker, and they’re all out there travelling round in what I’m calling a Doctorverse,” he said on the episode’s official commentary. “Sylvester McCoy woke up in a drawer, in a morgue, in San Francisco… and Jon Pertwee woke up on the floor of the laboratory.”
So basically, every previous Doctor bigenerated at that moment. And whilst the canonicity of this comment is debatable (given that we don’t see all of the previous Doctors in the episode) we have already witnessed the previous, much older incarnations appear in the Tales of the TARDIS series on BBC iPlayer. And this would probably be one of the single biggest changes to Doctor Who history in its 60 year run, apart from the 2020 revelation of the Timeless Child.
And speaking of the Timeless Child, this plot point is also raised by the Celestial Toymaker. Or at least, it may have been. To give you some context, the story of the Timeless Child was posited by showrunner Chris Chibnall in the 2020 episode ‘The Timeless Children,’ where it was revealed that William Hartnell was no longer the First Doctor, and that he never came from Gallifrey. He was discovered as a little girl standing outside the gateway to another dimension – a girl with the ability to regenerate. And an evil scientist called Tecteun learned the secret of her power and used it create Time Lord society.
And this means that, if ‘The Timeless Children’ is to be believed, there is a potentially infinite number of previous Doctors roaming around the cosmos – Doctors that the Time Lord himself has no memory of. And then there is the Division – a top secret organisation that the Doctor apparently belonged to during her Fugitive incarnation.
In short, ‘The Timeless Children’ rewrote the entirety of Doctor Who history and left many questions unanswered, not least why the Fugitive Doctor had her own TARDIS in the shape of a police box when she was supposed to predate William Hartnell.
But the Celestial Toymaker may well have addressed this confusion in ‘The Giggle’ and turned the whole situation on its head. “I made a jigsaw out of your history,” he admits to the Doctor. “Did you like it?” It’s a vague remark, but it’s possible that the Toymaker was talking about the Timeless Children. The entire story was buried within the Matrix on Gallifrey, after all; had the Toymaker infiltrated it and planted a ‘puzzle’ to fudge with the Doctor’s head?
Possibly, according to Russell T Davies. Apparently, he included this line to create some ambiguity about the Doctor’s past, making it harder for people to figure out what was true and what was invented by the Celestial Toymaker, including the Timeless Child and the claims in the TV movie that the Doctor was half human.
So if you’re not a fan of the Doctor’s new origin story, you have a potential ‘out.’ It was all invented by the Celestial Toymaker to confuse him. Simple.
But over to you, internet. Was the Timeless Child really an invention of the Toymaker? And what of the gold tooth? Who do you think scooped it up from the UNIT helipad? Let us know in the comments below.
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