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'The Nightmare Fair'

CD audio adventure released December 2009. 2 45-minute episodes

Directed and adapted from a Graham Williams script by John Ainsworth

Roots: The Doctor taps out Three Blind Mice, Peri quotes from The Wizard of Oz ("follow the yellow brick road"), Hamlet (the Doctor quotes Polonius "brevity is the soul of wit"); the signature music for the Galactic Adventure ride pastiches Thus Spake Zarathustra from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Doctor recalls Homer's Odyssey ("Siren song... maybe I should lash myself to the mast?") The Pathfinders' motto is the same as the Canadian Mounties: "we always get our man". The Doctor quotes Einstein ("time is relative") and Horace ("Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori") and with Peri compares Kevin and his brother to Romulus and Remus (see: Links)

Intertextuality: Some expository and descriptive dialogue has been adapted from Williams' 1989 novelisation of the story.

Technobabble: The Doctor's lash-up to trick the Toymaker's cameras is "a simple three-channel laser image loop on a continuous feedback with a quasi-random selector built into the sent output control ["I think"]

Dialogue Disasters: Peri- "Your attitude to self-determination could be called pragmatic" (did Pip and Jane Baker have a hand in this too?)

Dialogue Triumphs: "Prison cells, they're all the same. Made to keep little minds out and big minds quite definitely in."

"Times change, Shardlow" "Do they, sir? Do they indeed...?"

Double Entendres: "Stephan, I have just discovered a new way to enjoy myself; something I haven't experiences for a long time."

"Time Lords generally aren't very good at handling things, especially themselves. I'm just the exception to the rule."

Continuity: The Celestial Toymaker is older than Time Lord records; the Time Lords once tried to research his path through time, but grew wary of his constant games and, typically for anything not understood by them, they "ran away." Coming from a separate universe, the laws of our universe do not apply to the Toymaker, and he is extra-resistant to natural phenomena. As the two universes receding from each other, relativity dictates that his own life span is increasing; he is already millions of years old, and will live for millions more. The Toymaker is the last of his kind and has had to endure eternity, distracting himself from its horrors with his games. Having been a creator and destroyer of worlds he finds both roles equally distasteful. He has been on Earth now for "quite some time", according to the Doctor. His "grand plan" is international, involving a base of operations in California (silicon valley?), and his technicians must fly there on conventional transport.

The Toymaker is telepathic and telekinetic. He contacts the Doctor psychically (though the Doctor considers it being achievable only on an "impossibly narrowband" frequency. He cannot actually 'become' another person, but may adopt their guise (this appears to be a new trick for him) Overall the Toymaker to be currently limited in his powers, needing extra technological assistance (possibly due to the magnitude of his "great project"). He locks his doors with a key and uses holographic technology to create his prisons. He confirms the Doctor's identity by DNA analysis, and controls his various devices remotely via a telemechanical relay. Though he can manipulate the space-time vortex, because he is from a different universe he has to carry his matter with him - his creature seems to be of the Toymaker's own creation.

The Doctor infers that the Toymaker's slaves whilst under his power do not age and are effectively immortal. Stefan is the earliest of the Toymaker's recruits, having entered his service while in the army of Barbarossa in Constantinople during the Third Crusade. During a game of dice he waged a Greek family, lost them (the Toymaker later sold them), and then his freedom to his opponent. Shardlow entered the Toymaker's service when he was beaten at backgammon in the Hellfire Club in July 1778 (a 'beautiful summer's evening.") The Doctor estimates his age to be somewhere in his sixties.

A pleasure beach is being built on the outer rim of the Crab Nebula, though as it's built for a 'purpose', the Doctor considers the design specs "all wrong."

Instead of hands and digits crab-like Venusians have a serrated claw featuring various complex orifices and grooves capable of holding any kind of tool. As 'mechanics' the species keep half the spaceships in the galaxy running; apparently the species' only skill and the basis of their economy (S-B says they "charge the apogee" for their services.) The Venusian language is all glottal stops and consonants, a "cockney Welsh" according to the Doctor.

The once-humanoid cyborg SB5496-oblique-74 was a member of the Third Federation Force for Peace. A 'Pathfinder', his army of reconnaissance scouts are followed up by the base support teams if they run into trouble. The Doctor says that SB's conflict is one of the most futile interplanetary wars in modern history. It is not explained who the Pathfinders were fighting, although SB refers to them having "ichor"; presumably this is an alien race. The conflict has lasted over two hundred years, and has featured much in-fighting, including a 'brou-ha-ha between the second and third battalions', opening a new front in the war. During a battle off Vega V SB lost both arms and both legs, half his head and his ship to nuclear shrapnel. The Pioneers make extensive use of robots for menial tasks, and some of them are accomplished after-dinner speakers.

Peri is no good with heights.

The taste of candy floss is a new experience for the Doctor. He says he's not psychic - "well, not much anyway" (perhaps this is a limitation of this incarnation?) When he was young he had enough stuff in his pockets to build a holo-field scrambler in five minutes flat. He estimates his previous encounter with Magnus Greel to be "about a hundred years ago." He says he has shot through black holes, sailed through supernovas, but never experienced something like the Blackpool Pleasure beach rollercoaster. Compared to the Toymaker's computer games he prefers the "classic simplicity" of Space Invaders.

Links: The Celestial Toymaker. The Doctor recalls Magnus Greel and the (unnamed) Peking Homonculus (The Talons of Weng-Chiang), Brighton (The Leisure Hive). Peri finds a five pound note in a sporran in the TARDIS wardrobe, which the Doctor says is likely Jamie's ("he was always so careful with his cash") and a man he knew who was always hitting things "... in Paris" - likely Duggan (City of Death) Aside from the obvious origin, the Doctor's allusion to Romulus and Remus may be an allusion for Peri's benefit to The Twin Dilemma.

Location: Blackpool Pleasure Beach, 1986

Untelevised Adventures: It is implied that the Toymaker played a role in the downfall of Imperial China - the Doctor says he was there too. The Doctor made a copy of a Han-Sen tapestry during the Opium wars, based on a rather dirty original. The Doctor leaves the Toymaker "somewhere safe" and returns the Mechanic and SB5496 oblique 74 to their own times and places before the start of the next story.

The Bottom Line: "You're going to have fun if it kills you!"

A good start. And considering the familiarity of the material, still a good listen, helped immeasurably by the inspired casting of david baillie as the villain hitherto dubbed The Mandarin in previous versions of this story. As an adaptation there's little that strays from the path twice-now trod, but in this instance the path most trod is the one most anticipated, and there's nowt wrong with that.


While licensed novels such a Divided Loyalties appear to have carved their own version of the Celestial Toymaker's origins (one of the Guardians, apparently), Big Finish's audio stories have added to another version, remaining surprisingly consistent across two stories and one Companion Chronicle. In The Nightmare Fair the Doctor describes him as old "beyond imagining", and in The Magic Mousetrap he is described as "a spirit of mischief from the infancy of the Universe"; by the Eighth Doctor/Charley Pollard Companion Chronicle the Toymaker is simply "a bored immortal", each description agreeing that the Toymaker is very old indeed, a creature supernatural in lifespan, even by a Time Lord's standards, and (as related in The Nightmare Fair) resistant to the touch of time. This would appear to explain the Time Lords' curiosity regarding the Toymaker, and their disastrous attempt to study him as related by the Sixth Doctor.

As a remnant of his original home, the Toymaker's realm, the Celestial Toyroom, is an integral part of his existence. It is a sliver of reality, described in The Magic Mousetrap as a place the Toymaker can occasionally step out of (usually to collect his opponents and slaves) but never fully leave, governed as he is by 'the rules set down for him in the childhood of the Universe'. In Solitaire the Toymaker declares that he has made every one of his toys in the 'shop' he occupies (which would agree with Nightmare Fair's contention that the Toymaker's creations are the stuff of his original universe, although perhaps the ones he is referring to are the transformed puppets and dummies of his previous combatants?) As indicated in Solitaire, outside the Room is a void, and the windows of the Toymaker's shop repair themselves.

The other integral and constant element of the Toymaker is his seeming addiction to the ritual of game play. In The Nightmare Fair it could be inferred that merely playing games was not intrinsic to the Toymaker's identity, and that his first encounters with intelligent species were more godlike, he being both a creator and destroyer of worlds (although arguably his role as 'creator' may be more accurately defined as 'nurturer', given his seeming inability to create matter outside his Toyroom.) It seems to have been a role the Toiymaker found ultimately unrewarding, and his eventual interest in humans and other beings would be as their tormentor, an opponent in game n which he might be ensnared, but cannot truly lose through death. In Solitaire he declares that "life is a game... death is the ultimate defeat" and "I cannot die... do you know what would happen to me? Nothing. Nothing at all. A brief interlude of silence and then - I return. Different, perhaps; a new face, voice, personality; it all depends on how bored I am of this. The essence remains. I remain as if I always have... what would be the fun in anything else?"

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