Saturday 13 April 2024

The Art of... The Celestial Toymaker

The Celestial Toymaker was novelised by Gerry Davis, who had been Story Editor as well as writer of the final script as televised. Joining him is Alison Bingeman, who was his partner and protégé at the time.
The book was first published in November 1986, with cover art by Graham Potts - his only contribution to the range, though he also produced the cover for Peter Haining's 20th Anniversary book - Doctor Who: A Celebration
The books were avoiding the likenesses of the Doctors on their covers at this time (including that of the present TARDIS incumbent, thanks to issues with Colin Baker's agent).
The likeness to Michael Gough might never be described as "strong", but it's there, whilst the clowns are very well realised. This cover was actually voted best of the year by Doctor Who Monthly readers.
Response to the novel by fans was negative, and it is widely believed that Davis secured the commission purely so that Bingeman could write the book. She subsequently went on to become a writer on a number of big US TV shows.

A  reprint with new cover art by Alister Pearson followed in 1992, by which time it was acceptable to feature the relevant Doctor on the covers - now that the series was off the air. The Doctor ponders the Trilogic Game from a publicity shot from the opening episode, whilst the Toymaker derives from a profile portrait photograph of Gough.

The soundtrack - narrated by Peter Purves - was released in April 2001 with the usual photomontage cover. There's an eclectic mix of characters on display between the Doctor and the Toymaker. Whilst Joey and Clara might be expected, having featured prominently in publicity, the choice of the Joker, Knave and one of the ballerinas is a trifle odd.

In advance of the character's return in The Giggle as part of the 60th Anniversary celebrations, The Celestial Toymaker saw its soundtrack reissued on vinyl, courtesy of Demon Records, on 30th September 2022. It's a striking cover. The Toymaker presides over primary colourful building block / playing card imagery, with a number of Toyroom characters making an appearance.
The Giggle was also responsible for the story being selected as the latest missing adventure to get the animated treatment. The DVD / Blu-ray (above) and Steelbook (below) are due to be released in mid-June 2024. 
The animation style selected is that used for the third instalment of The Web of Fear, which met with almost universal derision. Reaction by those who saw the story previewed at the BFI in February 2024 is mixed. Some would prefer animation which honours the original story as broadcast, whilst others claim that this animation is appropriate to the surreal nature of the story, and the release is meant to attract a new audience anyway. Expect a review when it finally comes out.
If the vinyl cover is striking in a good way, the same could never be said of the DVD / Blu-ray cover. It's possibly the worst ever, with little or no effort gone into the design, when you consider the range of visual material which the story affords.

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