The Nightmare Fair

Roots: Rambo, Wild Bill Hickock, the Beatles and the Count of Monte Cristo are mentioned. Peri quotes from The Wizard of Oz ('follow the yellow brick road') and the Doctor taps out a logarithmic version of Three Blind Mice on a pipe.

Goofs: The Doctor and Peri supposedly arrived in Blackpool by accident, despite the Doctor's promise to take Peri there at the end of Revelation of the Daleks.

Continuity: The Toymaker's awesome powers are again in evidence - he notes that he is the space-time vortex used to bring the TARDIS to Earth. He claims that he has been on earth for millennia [or rather, he has been visiting it. At the end of Divided Loyalties he announces that he will take Stefan to Blackpool, but he had been to earth prior to that to collect Stefan]. His servant Shardlow entered his service when the Toymaker beat him at a game of backgammon in the Hellfire Club in July 1778. He uses more technology than he did previously, with lethal androids in his Pleasure Beach exhibits and the arcade-style computer games that he intends to distribute across the world. When a player is killed in this computer game, one of the crystalline monsters from the game become real and kills the loser. The Toymaker has factory complexes devoted to the production of these game consoles in Taiwan, Japan, France and Germany, as well as in England. The centre of production is in America. It is implied that people whom he has bested in his games run these factories. Once distributed across the world, these games would unleash thousands of lethal monsters on anyone who failed to complete the game successfully - the Toymaker's Great Work.

The Doctor claims that the Time Lords once saw him playing with a supernova as though it were a toy. He tells Peri that he doesn't know what the Toymaker is, but that he is unimaginably old and very powerful possessing both telepathy and telekinesis. The Time Lords attempted to discover his origin but failed [which would explain why he didn't know that the Toymaker is the Guardian of Dreams until Divided Loyalties. Presumably, he tells Peri that he doesn't know what the Toymaker is here so that he doesn't have to explain what the Guardians are]. The destruction of the Toymaker's own universe is responsible for his immortality - it is receding from this universe so fast that it pushes his time back as it goes. Because he is from a different universe, he [and the other Guardians] has to carry his matter with him [possibly this is why the Guardians cannot fully interfere in the affairs of the higher dimensions and why the Toymaker absorbed Rallon - it stabilized his matter, allowing him to interact with the higher dimensions more easily (Divided Loyalties)]. For millennia, he [and the other Guardians?] nurtured the early civilizations of the universe, until he grew bored and started to destroy them instead. Finally, he found distraction in the world of games. It is implied that the Toymaker played a role in the downfall of Imperial China, which is presumably where he got his taste in clothes. The Toymaker uses his own mind to create force fields and the monsters from the game [and the Celestial Toyroom - see The Celestial Toymaker], but created a tele-mechanical relay to control these and thus save him having to consciously bother about them - this proves his undoing, as the Doctor traps him for eternity in a force-field powered by the Toymaker's own mind.

Stefan does not recognise the Doctor, despite having met him in Divided Loyalties [which was of course published later - presumably, the Toymaker hasn't bothered to explain regeneration to him]. He was the first of the Toymaker's recruits, and lost a game of dice to the Toymaker in Constantinople, where Stefan was with Barbarossa during the Third Great Crusade against the Turks. He also wagered a Greek family, which the Toymaker sold.

The TARDIS was dragged to Blackpool by the nexus of the primal cauldron of space-time itself, thanks to the Toymaker. The Doctor has never had candy floss before. He claims to have eaten Vanarian sun-seed cake, but also claims to have shot through black holes and sailed through supernovae in the same breath, so he might be making this up. He describes his roller coaster ride as magnificent! His pockets contain a pair of nutcrackers and the signet ring of Rassilon. He claims that they used to contain enough assorted stuff to build a holofield scrambler in five minutes flat.

The Toymaker has three non-human prisoners; The Mechanic is a Ventusan, an insectoid race with six limbs - five of these are legs, and the sixth is a complex serrated claw, capable of holding a variety of tools. They apparently keep half the spaceships in the galaxy running, which is the basis of their economy. It is not clear when the Toymaker beat the Mechanic in a game, but since he can time travel the Mechanic is probably from the future. The second prisoner is the once-humanoid cyborg SB5496 oblique 74, a member of the Third Federation Force for Peace. He was a pathfinder, a name for Federation reconnaissance scouts who are followed up by the base support teams if they run into trouble. The Doctor notes that the Federation forces were engaged in the most futile interplanetary war in modern history for at least two hundred years, although he doesn't say what era SB5496 oblique 74 is from. SB was embroiled in a battle off Vega V, and his civilization make extensive use of robots for menial tasks. The third prisoner is a luminous amorphous pink cloud, whose race and name are unrevealed.

An attempt is being made to build an amusement park on the rim of the Crab Nebula, but the Doctor says that its builders are going about it in the wrong way by trying to build it for a purpose.

Links: Peri pays for some candy floss with a five pound note that she found in a sporran in the TARDIS wardrobe - the Doctor notes that it must be Jamie's. The Doctor mentions Brighton (The Leisure Hive). The Doctor said that he would take Peri to Blackpool at the end of Revelation of the Daleks.

Location: Blackpool tower and Blackpool Pleasure Beach, c1985.

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor accompanied Livingstone on one of his travels, and learned up a bongo beat in the process. He coined the jingle fine twine for thee and thine to advertise Oombrean sngafree twine during the Globus wars of independence. He made a copy of a Han-Sen tapestry during the Opium wars. The Doctor has deposited the Toymaker somewhere safe and returned the Mechanic, SB5496 oblique 74 and the cloud to their own times and places by the start of The Ultimate Evil.

The Bottom Line: Easily the best of the three novelised Missing Season Stories, The Nightmare Fair has an engaging plot, a perfectly characterised Sixth Doctor, and one of the most memorable moments of the Sixth Doctor's literary adventures when he confronts the Toymaker with the loneliness of immortality. With the return of Michael Gough and location filming in Blackpool, this could well have been a classic.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke

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Filling the odd absence in '80s Doctor Who of a video game-centred plot, The Nightmare Fair has quite a few good ideas, but the inclusion of the Toymaker, who hasn't been on the programme since 1966, is a puzzling one and could have early been replaced with a new antagonist. At least Williams recognized The Celestial Toymaker hadn't gone nearly far enough with the deadly games idea and pushed them in a more engaging direction. It's also fun to see him knock the yellow peril stereotypes and how Mandarin robes don't belong on Gough.

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