At the end of season 22's Revelation of the Daleks
, the episode would've left off with the Doctor telling Peri he would be taking her to Blackpool, which would then be picked up at the start of the next season's premiere story, The Nightmare Fair
. Very shortly before production on season 23 was to begin, the BBC announced that Doctor Who would be packed in mothballs for eighteen months. With the announcement of the show's extended hiatus, the aired episode of Revelation
ended on a freeze frame before the Doctor could tell Peri they'd be going to Blackpool.Funkytown?
With Doctor Who put on hiatus in 1985, the stories about to go into production for season 23 were all scrapped in favor of a season-long arc of the Doctor being put on trial by the High Council of Time Lords and newly commissioned stories rounding out the season. Of the "missing stories" that were scheduled for the lost season 23, The Nightmare Fair
by Graham Williams, The Ultimate Evil
by Wally K. Daly and Mission To Magnus
by Philip Martin were later novelized by their respective authors for Target publishing after Doctor Who was cancelled in 1989.
For his novel, Graham Williams dropped the ending of Revelation
entirely so that the TARDIS would be drawn to Blackpool instead of the Doctor and Peri going there on purpose. The Nightmare Fair
would've seen the return of Michael Gough as The Celestial Toymaker, twenty years after the character had first appeared in Doctor Who as a nemesis for William Hartnell's First Doctor and the Doctor's companions Steven Taylor and Dodo Chaplet. Unfortunately of the four part Hartnell story, only the last episode survives in its entirety but the whole story was later written into a novelization from Target books in 1986 and the complete audio made available from the BBC Radio Collection in 2001.
The Toymaker would return, albeit in a 5th Doctor PDA from BBC books in 1999 called Divided Loyalties
, which ends with the Toymaker telling his servant Stefan, "I'll take you to Blackpool", effectively taking the original end of Revelation of the Daleks
and setting up The Nightmare Fair
Initially, Big Finish insisted that they were committed to producing original Doctor Who audio dramas and had no interest in pursuing any "lost" scripts commissioned by the BBC. With the go-ahead from Big Finish, a fan-produced dramatic reading of The Nightmare Fair
's script, without the original cast and not identifying it as a Doctor Who story, was released in May 2003 with the profits going to the charity Sense-National Deafblind and Rubella Association.
In 2009, Big Finish reversed their decision and announced they would be producing a season of eight stories of BBC commissioned scripts for Doctor Who's 23rd season, including The Nightmare Fair
and Mission To Magnus
. Big Finish was interested in producing The Ultimate Evil
but could not reach an agreement with author Wally K. Daly. With certain scripts and authors unavailable, Big Finish would dip into the well of unproduced season 22 scripts to finish out the first season of lost stories. They would later extend "the lost stories" to unproduced scripts intended for other Doctors, with varying degrees of success.
At the same time the audio version of The Nightmare Fair
was going into production, Big Finish was also producing a 7th Doctor story where the Doctor and companions Ace and Hex battle the unseen Toymaker in The Magic Mousetrap.
The role of the Toymaker had to be recast for The Nightmare Fair
because Michael Gough was in his early 90s and in retirement. David Bailie, who had played Dask in the 4th Doctor story Robots of Death, was cast as the new Toymaker.
The TARDIS has been drawn to Blackpool in the year 1985, where the Doctor intends to investigate a dangerous space/time vortex… while enjoying some local attractions along the way. But an old enemy is watching from his base deep within the amusement park, a timeless being who craves revenge.
The Celestial Toymaker has returned. The game is on. And, should he lose, the Doctor will pay the ultimate forfeit...
The Doctor and Peri are back to being the bickering couple of season 22 but to Big Finish's credit it's been toned down and the banter between the two is as great as ever (and Nicola's American accent is just about flawless now). The way Colin and Nicola play the characters there's no doubt the two are good pals that genuinely like each other. And listening to the two coming off the roller coaster together is worth the price of the audio by itself.
David Bailie brilliantly creates his own original interpretation of the Toymaker, retaining Michael Gough's coldness but adding a layer of sinister, child-like enthusiasm. His exchanges with the 6th Doctor are so natural and nuanced that you can believe these are two old enemies meeting each other again.
As for the story itself...well, it's just not action-packed or even interesting. The beginning and the end are very well done but the middle is kinda dull. The meeting of the Doctor and the Toymaker is built up nicely, with the Doctor hearing the Toymaker calling out to him as the Toymaker watches on his monitor as the Doctor and Peri are going through the funfair. But without the benefit of visuals or the printed page, the audio narrative loses steam when the Doctor and Peri are separated. Peri's companion for most of the story is Kevin Stoney, played by Matthew Noble, looking for his brother who's gone missing at the fair. Video arcades were all the rage in the 1980s and the story reflects the new, at the time, fascination with video games. The Doctor's attempt to defeat the Toymaker once and for all through an arcade game, that we can only see in our imagination, benefits greatly from the vocal acting of Baker and Bailie as the Doctor exposes the Toymaker's grand scheme...and his mysterious origins.
There's also a few references to classic adventures such as The Talons of Weng-Chiang, The Leisure Hive and City of Death (co-written by Graham Williams, Douglas Adams and David Fisher), a delight for old school Who fans like myself.
The end of each disc features interviews with the cast and crew of this story, including Graham Williams's widow Jackie and their youngest son. The origins of the idea of "The Lost Stories" are talked about in addition to the process of bringing The Nightmare Fair to Big Finish and adapting the script to an audio medium. Colin and Nicola talk about having the rug pulled out from under them when Michael Grade put the show on hiatus in addition to concerns about how the Doctor and Peri are portrayed at this point in their relationship. It could be seen as a step back from how Colin had developed the Doctor into a warmer, less abrasive character than the way he was on television and Peri's role in this story as being more reactive than proactive as developed by Nicola for her audio stories. However, both express great enthusiasm and joy of being able to revisit a story they were both looking forward to filming in 1985. The wife and son of Graham Williams are also gratified to see their loved one's story finally seeing the light of day as intended.
Overall as an audio, The Nightmare Fair
is worth a listen. The middle does drag on but the acting performances of all involved are entertaining enough to keep you interested.
Bailie as the Toymaker would later return in Big Finish's Companion Chronicles with Charley Pollard telling the story of her meeting with the Toymaker while in the company of the 8th Doctor.
Links to purchase:http://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/the-nightmare-fair-421 Doctor Who The Lost Stories 1.1 The Nightmare Fairhttp://amzn.com/0426203348 Doctor Who The Missing Stories The Nightmare Fair Target Novelhttp://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/the-magic-mousetrap-286 Doctor Who 120. The Magic Mousetraphttp://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/solitaire-488 Doctor Who The Companion Chronicles 4.12 Solitairehttp://amzn.com/0426202511 Doctor Who The Celestial Toymaker Target Novelhttp://amzn.com/0563478551 Doctor Who The Celestial Toymaker CD or Audible Downloadhttp://amzn.com/0563555785 Doctor Who Divided Loyalties BBC Books