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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

46 Comments

  1. Mike Russell
    April 1, 2011 @ 10:37 am

    I did not knew this meaning of Celestial. The Celestial Toymaker was never a story I liked; I often find myself wishing we could trade in the surviving episode for part four of The Tenth Planet.

    Big Finish is something I only occasionally follow. How do they handle bringing back this questionable character?

    I'm still keeping The Ark and Lost in Time on my shelf. But yes, if part of Bill's era had to be destroyed, I'm glad the mostly wonderful Verity Lambert era mostly exists and that it's season three that's been gutted.

    Reply

  2. Elizabeth Sandifer
    April 1, 2011 @ 10:51 am

    Yeah, it's definitely a good thing that Seasons 1 and 2 are as complete as they are. I wish the losses to them weren't entirely focused on the historicals, just because it would be nice to see a bit more of what those were like, but for the most part the BBC inadvertently displayed considerable taste in what they didn't junk compared to what they did.

    That said, if I were bringing back 1 and only 1 Hartnell story – well, obviously I'd take Tenth Planet Ep4 first, but after that I'd take a Wiles story – either The Massacre or The Myth Makers. For all my problems with his era, the fact of the matter is, Wiles did up the quality on Doctor Who considerably, and I think his influence on later eras is understated. It's just that his era was nastily reactionary and went out on a particularly sour note. But, I mean, something like Midnight, or even Amy's Choice owes a huge amount to Wiles's willingness to push the show in some dark directions.

    And I don't know details on Big Finish and the Toymaker beyond that he's been used by them three times – once in an adaptation of The Nightmare Fair, which is at least somewhat understandable, and twice else. I distantly mean to check out one of those two, and may well get around to it in the 7th or 8th Doctor eras, but may also pass on it in favor of things I find more interesting from Big Finish.

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  3. John Seavey
    April 1, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

    So will "Talons" not be canon either, or will that be a subversive exploration of Victorian stereotypes?

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  4. Elizabeth Sandifer
    April 1, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

    An excellent question. Having not seen Talons in about a decade, and having not been as generally aware of colonialist issues in British media when I last saw it as I am now, I don't have an answer yet. I will tentatively say that Robert Holmes is far more likely to write a clever and subversive script than Brian Hayles, however, and that I hold out hope. On the other hand, I've never liked Talons as much as its reputation, so I'm certainly not averse to slagging it.

    If nothing else, Talons is an actually complex script with other things going on. The racism of The Celestial Toymaker would be a lot easier to swallow if there were anything else in the episode. But not only does it have a racist caricature of a main character, it doesn't actually have any significant ideas beyond that.

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  5. Aaron
    April 1, 2011 @ 9:53 pm

    You wouldn't bring back Dalek Masterplan? That's the one I'd go for, since you get a long episode, and Sara Kingdom, and more Steven, which is always a good thing. I actually wish we could trade some Lambert era for more Steven episodes- he's such an underrated companion, and I just adore him.

    As for Big Finish, I've listened to the Magic Mousetrap, which is the toymaker with the 7th Doctor, and though I don't care for their interpretation of my favourite era as much as I might, it was an alright episode. They ignored any racist parts of the character, and he was brought back as a doll, which meant he had a different voice (I can't remember what sort of accent he had as the doll though). But I think big finish just take him as being "Celestial" in it's "cosmic" sense.

    Also, I just watched episode four of this before reading this blog, and I have to say, I don't really notice the yellow face, though now that you mention the accent, I could hear that. I mean, given that he's dressed in a characiture of a chinese person, I'm sure what your saying is right, but not looking out for it, I didn't notice any makeup on Gough's face. I think that's why people don't say anything about the racism of the Toymaker- if we don't share these underlying assumptions about races in the first place, we don't notice the subtle clues put in for people that do.

    It'll be interesting to see what you do about Toberman in Tomb of the Cybermen. I've tried commenting on the racism in that episode, only to get shouted down by other fans who think I'm missing the point there.

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  6. Elizabeth Sandifer
    April 2, 2011 @ 5:49 am

    Bringing back The Daleks Master Plan felt like cheating. It's also a clear candidate, although given that we have nearly 70% of the total Hartnell-era Dalek episodes, versus about 44% of the total Hartnell-era historicals, part of me is still inclined to bring back a historical on those grounds.

    I suspect that Big Finish probably was mostly unaware of the racist meaning of celestial, instead taking it to mean cosmic. I'm not convinced ignorance is an excuse, but I largely believe ignorance as a phenomenon. And I should clarify that I meant "yellowface" to refer broadly to casting white actors as east Asian characters, not to refer to a makeup decision.

    As for Toberman, well, we'll find out fairly soon I suppose. 🙂

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  7. Dave
    April 2, 2011 @ 8:14 am

    I never knew. I had even read somewhere that there were rumors of the Toymaker appearing in series 6 (unsubstantiated, fortunately).

    I just watched the latest series 6 trailer, and that last line– "I've been running my whole life. Now it's time for me to stop." –immediately reminded me of how you framed the show back in the second post. "A show about running, and escape." Congratulations, sir, you appeared to have called one of the themes of the latest season based on the first one.

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  8. talestoenrage
    April 2, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

    It's definitely interesting to hear such a savage takedown of the Celestial Toymaker, considering how much the concept interests me.

    I'm not a big Doctor Who Fan, but I've been slowly getting into the series over the last year or so, and finally getting around to actually watching episodes over the past month-focusing entirely on the relaunched episodes, just to avoid getting overwhelmed with the idea of watching the "whole" series. As someone who's more experienced with television science fiction through Star Trek, the idea of a godlike being in Doctor Who, who fits the Q model decades before Q appears (and even before Q's arguable predecessor, Trelane) fascinated me. How would it play out on such a different show?

    Hearing that it's offensive instead of interesting is disappointing, but it makes me wonder if the concept could be redeemed in the main show. I don't know how he's portrayed in the Big Finish audio books, but I wonder how they could get away from the racism of the original episode without just ignoring it completely, since it seems like something that should be acknowledged instead of quietly ignored. I'd much rather see a Toymaker who gives a reason why a non-human appeared as a caricature of the "yellow peril," than one who just goes "Here I am, ignore the complete change in appearance!"

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  9. El
    April 2, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

    Also this: http://www.kasterborous.com/2011/03/sylvester-as-the-doctor/

    🙂

    Wonderful blog by the way. I'm not sure when I started following, but by this point I've read each of your posts back to Unearthly Child. It's extremely refreshing to read a different take on these serials. You manage to keep hold of the show's format, concept, and limited back story from when it originally aired, while always keeping in mind how this lead to (or failed to lead to) where we are today.

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  10. elvwood
    April 5, 2011 @ 4:34 am

    Interesting, and a bit saddening. I first saw the surviving episode in my 40s, and yet I never saw the Toymaker as Chinese. Oh, he had the costume, but I just thought of that as dressing up, and I never made that connection with the adjective Celestial. When I heard the other episodes I was somewhat shocked by the Eeny Meeny Miny Mo version (even though they cover it up with Peter Purves' narration, you can tell its there), but still didn't make the connection. However, with audiences expectations of yellowface at the time (something I don't have) I suspect they would have seen it as you point out.

    While I'm not too bothered about discovering a nasty additional thing about a story I didn't like anyway, I really like the audio Solitaire. Selfishly, I hope this doesn't spoil my enjoyment of it, but I will be listening even more closely next time.

    Oh, and on Talons: Robert Holmes does put in some anti-racist material commenting on the attitudes of the time, but it is still upholds all sorts of racist stereotypes.

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  11. BatmanAoD
    April 5, 2011 @ 8:02 pm

    I'm actually not convinced that it would be unavoidably racist to bring back the Toymaker at some point. Clearly most people by this point understand the word "Celestial" in his name to mean merely "cosmic," since that actually makes a lot more sense in the context of Doctor Who anyway. The fact that it was originally something else seems almost irrelevant; would it not in fact be somewhat redeeming to bring back the positive aspects of the character, while burying the negative?

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  12. Elizabeth Sandifer
    April 5, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

    For me it's a case of "this could be done well, but with so many other bits of Doctor Who history to pick from and do well, why not pick a non-racist one?"

    I mean, on some level it seems to me like it would be far cooler anyway if Big Finish were to dust off The Space Museum or The Savages or something for a sequel instead of a supposed classic that's actually both racist and rubbish. If you're just going to fetishize the distant past of the program, pick something that deserves more attention than it gets, not something that deserves less.

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  13. Anton
    April 15, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

    I have a vivid memory of a photo-story about the BBC make-up dept in an early Blue Peter annual where Christopher Trace (later to be replaced by Peter Purves) is shown being elaborately made up to look like a 'Chinaman', including very painful looking stretched gauze to give those all important 'slitted eyes' and wearing a costume very like the Celestial Toymaker's. I can't detect any sign of such make-up on Michael Gough in 'Toymaker' clips or photos though. Are we sure he was meant to be racially stereotyped Chinese and not just generally 'exotic' in his choice of dress, much like the Doctor and the Meddling Monk?

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  14. Elizabeth Sandifer
    April 16, 2011 @ 8:14 am

    I'm pretty sure – there's enough stuff that signifies Chinese, and enough cases of white actors playing Chinese parts without heavy makeup (starting, at least in Doctor Who, with Derren Nesbitt as Tegana) that I don't think the lack of extreme makeup indicates much of anything other than that they'd never make a high profile actor like Michael Gough do that.

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  15. Anton
    April 16, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

    Okay. Oh yeah Tegana, Blimey! Well, that's yet another piece of childhood innocence shattered. And I guess that's the point in a way. Did it affect my view of Chinese people that the Doctor Who production team chose to use a racial stereotype and what's more not even have the decency to employ a real Chinese person? Probably no more than the various 'Chinese' magicians touring since the 1900's or Fu Manchu or Pong Ping, Rupert Bear's mystical pekinese chum or that awful character Mickey Rooney does in Breakfast at Tiffany's. It's sad but true and we're more enlightened now I hope. Oh, by the way Please reassure me there are no examples of anyone actaually 'blacking up' in classic Who! (I don't think we can count Mavic Chen can we?)

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  16. Elizabeth Sandifer
    April 16, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

    I certainly don't count Mavic Chen. Whatever color he was supposed to be, he wasn't playing the part with any racially stereotyped traits. So nothing I can think of, at least.

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  17. Anton
    April 17, 2011 @ 11:26 am

    ^Thank Gawd fer that. your blog is fascinating reading by the way. Keep it up.

    Reply

  18. 7a1abfde-af0e-11e0-b72c-000bcdcb5194
    July 15, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

    Actually if you read the Fu Manchu books now, it's startling how little one would have to change to make Fu Manchu the hero. After all, his "fiendish oriental plot" is mainly to protect Asia against Western imperialism. And he's certainly a more layered character than the tiresome Nayland Smith. (It's also interesting that most of the really racist things are said by Smith and not by the viewpoint character, Petrie.)

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  19. Seeing_I
    August 9, 2011 @ 7:36 am

    Yeah, Mavic Chen could have been blue for all we know – though I tend to think he was supposed to be some of sort of futuristic Euro-Asian-African heritage. Not too unrealistic, really!

    As for the Toymaker … it was years and years before I ever heard the term "Celestial" used to refer to the Chinese. Jago's reference to "The Celestial Chang" in "Talons" seemed to me merely descriptive of his mystic nature (and of course, we can well assume that Holmes was playing on the dual meaning when he wrote the line).

    As for your distress that this character remains part of Doctor Who fiction, well, I would wager that a good 90% of Doctor Who fans have no idea there's an ethnic component to the term "Celestial," and take his Mandarin garb as mere fancy dress. Certainly, color photos show that Gough was not wearing any kind of yellowface makeup, and I must have slept through (shock!) the bit where he puts on an Asian accent to command the Trilogic Game.

    So, it's easy to see how the racism could have not been picked up on. The character himself – a Q type villian with a very Who-ish tendency to turn children's games into deadly danger – is easily be divested of any racist trappings and is just referred to, I think, as "The Toymaker." So while your misgivings about the episode itself are very well founded, I think you make too much of his continued appearance in Who fiction.

    By the way, the term "Celestial" as slang for Chinese comes from Tianchao Daguo, "The Celestial Empire."

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  20. Seeing_I
    August 9, 2011 @ 7:38 am

    By the way I have no idea if his more recent outings on Big Finish are any good or not, as I've not heard them. Mostly because the character himself always seemed rather crap and hokey LOL

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  21. Vain Sharp Dad
    August 26, 2011 @ 4:27 am

    If it helps, in Newcastle in the late 70s I was still (innocently/ignorantly) using the offensive version of Eeny Meenie with no idea….

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  22. Lokian Eule
    October 26, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

    You know I got all in a huff about the Ark being sexist, but after a looong discussion with a friend of mine, I really conclude that it's not the story that's sexist, it's Harry. He's an old fashioned kind of guy, and when you think about it, all the sexist bits come from him. Then just to piss Sarah Jane off even more than she already was at that point, the Doctor goads her by making fun of her gender. Since Sarah Jane is a product of the women's movement, this story makes sense. It's not sexist though.

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  23. Elizabeth Sandifer
    October 26, 2011 @ 7:47 pm

    I should clarify that "The Ark" I am talking about in this entry is the preceding William Hartnell story, called simply The Ark, and not The Ark in Space, which is a lovely Tom Baker story that I was very pleased with when I covered some six months after I wrote this entry.

    Though your observations about Sarah and the women's movement are quite relevant to The Time Warrior entry.

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  24. John Dorney
    December 5, 2011 @ 1:10 am

    As someone who wrote one of the Big Finish plays featuring the Toymaker I read this with quite a bit of interest.

    I'm ashamed to admit that I wasn't aware of the double meaning of the word 'Celestial' and had just thought of the 'cosmic' meaning. Oddly, in the script the character was simply named 'The Owner' throughout (Charley was also listed as 'The Girl') and the word 'Celestial' never appears (he does refer to himself as 'The Toymaker' at the end, as does the Doctor). Although this is not done as a result of any delicacy (as I'd no knowledge of the dual meaning). And whilst the cover art has him in the 'Mandarin' get-up, I'd not really visualised him in any particular outfit.

    And I suppose this informs why I don't really have a problem with the use of the character now. Because characters can transcend their roots. Over the years the Toymaker has morphed into a different character and our reading of his name is now definitely 'cosmic'. Yes, he may have racist origins, but that doesn't mean using him now is. Let's reclaim the Toymaker.

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  25. William Whyte
    December 28, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

    The whole Toymaker/Chinese thing brings up the Talons of Weng-Chiang, of course, and I have to say I think you're missing some of the point here. The Celestial Toymaker is racist in exactly the same way, and has access to exactly the same get-out, that Talons does: namely, it's a genre pastiche where the genre is casually racist out of ignorance. In this case, the clear intent is to do an absurdist children's story; the natural reference point if you're unimaginative is Alice in Wonderland; lacking the sophistication to do the logic jokes, you end up reducing that to (in About Time's words about something else) a mulch of Victoriana; and having ended up with a story about "what happens if you get treated the way you used to treat your toys?" you essentially have two villains you can pick, a Victorian manufacturer or some kind of magician who sets things in motion and sits back and watches.

    So the racism is an incidental byproduct of the weakness of the development of the story. They had a fairly strong high-concept idea about how helpless children are but how helpless toys are even relative to children. They could have gone more psychological to the extent where the identity of the bad guy didn't even matter that much. They could have thrown off the Victoriana (which, apart from the racism, brings its own problems of being old-fashioned and dull to the target audience of 60s kids, who had Lego and Meccano and Scalextric and Barbie ^H^H^H Cindy), in which case the villain naturally becomes someone else. But for whatever reason (and, as I say, I blame the pull of Alice), they went with Victorian chrome and that, combined with laziness, dragged in the problems you've noted.

    You can make the whole thing ten times less bad by resorting to fanfic. In the prologue, the Doctor's showing Dodo round the TARDIS and they come across a room full of Victorian toys. Dodo makes fun of them and the Doctor says "yes, I bought them for Susan… I never really understood young people. I felt compelled to get them for some reason." Dodo picks up a marionette of a Chinese puppet and brings it back to her room before she falls asleep. In the epilogue, Dodo wakes up and it was all a dream. The marionette's still by the bed. Her screams bring the Doctor and Steven running. As she explains to them what happened she realises that THE MARIONETTE HAS VANISHED…

    Maybe two and a half times less bad.

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  26. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 28, 2011 @ 6:48 pm

    But those two and a half less times do at least count for something. I mean, at least Talons was invoking a specific character in Fu Manchu who was relevant to the stories being played with. It's not like the Queen of Hearts was Chinese.

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  27. Lewis Christian
    July 6, 2012 @ 1:41 am

    Donald Tosh has apparently spoken about the Toymaker recently: http://gallifreybase.com/forum/showthread.php?t=143501

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  28. Chap_with_wings
    July 10, 2012 @ 6:35 am

    I have just discovered this excellent blog via wifeinspace. Of course you're totally right about the production team. Do we know if the eeny meeny rhyme was printed in full in the script? Or did the actor ad lib it? As another commenter admitted, this version was in common usage at my school where we saw it as a bit naughty. This was the 80s.

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  29. Chap_with_wings
    July 10, 2012 @ 6:40 am

    As for the Celestial thing… I think he's generally called The Toymaker (like The Monk). I never knew what the word meant, either in the novelisation or The Nightmare Fair. I assume Mr Dorney & co have dropped the word…

    I look forward to reading the rest of these!

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  30. Henry R. Kujawa
    August 5, 2012 @ 11:32 am

    Philip Sandifer:
    "it's Towers of Hanoi……I was very good at it. I was also three"

    Someone I knew had this game when I was a little kid. It was interesting to play… once. After that, ehh.

    "Celestial does not mean "cosmic" here. It's old slang for Chinese."

    Count me as one who never knew that. I always figured Mr. Jago called Chang "The Celestial Chang" because the guy was a magician (and Jago loved big words).

    "I'll accept the Paul McGann movie, the Peter Cushing movies, hell, In a Fix With Sontarans and Death Comes to Time. Those can all be canon if they want to be. Fine and dandy. The Ark and The Celestial Toymaker, though? Not canon. Plain and simple."

    Seems to me there was a scene like this in "BLAZING SADDLES". "Alright– we'll TAKE the niggers– AND the chinks– AND the injuns– but we WON'T take the IRISH!" (I may be paraphrasing…)

    "The fact that there are far more fans outraged about the fact that the Doctor maybe was in love with Rose than there are about the fact that in 2010 we're still using a racist caricature as a recurring villain is, frankly, disgusting."

    I must be one of the few people who wasn't bothered about Rose. He regenerated into a young man, she gave him a reason to start living again. After awhile, they got close. It made perfect sense to me. On the other hand, something about her never grabbed me as much as a lot of other girls who'd been on the show, but I put that down to personal taste.

    Talestoenrage:
    "As someone who's more experienced with television science fiction through Star Trek, the idea of a godlike being in Doctor Who, who fits the Q model decades before Q appears (and even before Q's arguable predecessor, Trelane) fascinated me. How would it play out on such a different show?"

    Similar ideas often pop up on different shows, to be treated differently because of the different styles of the shows. At least HALF of "LOST IN SPACE" season 3 are variations on stories from STAR TREK season 1 (I'm not kidding). However, checking the entire 3 seasons of LIS, I couldn't find any character who seemed to fit the "Q" type (other than the kid in "The Haunted Lighthouse", but that story was really LIS's verswion of "Charlie X", only with a happier ending). However, there was a 2nd-season episode "The Toymaker", which had a connection with "The Celestial Galactic Store". And the old man in the story mistakenly thinks Will & Dr. Smith are toys he built and treats them as such… Could this me another possible example of Irwin Allen being influenced by WHO?

    Philip Sandifer:
    "they'd never make a high profile actor like Michael Gough do that."

    They did it with Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee & Peter Sellers! (Film-makers, of course, not the people doing WHO.)

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  31. orfeo
    December 19, 2012 @ 2:35 am

    The problem with your assertions about the real meaning of 'Celestial' is that it runs up against the facts in one of the other blogs I'm reading as I go through 60s Doctor Who. Link: http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/serials/y.html

    Specifically, the title 'Celestial Toymaker' existed BEFORE the idea of depicting the character as Chinese. And the reason for depicting the character as Chinese had to do with the Towers of Hanoi game (which also wasn't in the initial script which had the 'Celestial' title).

    You can argue that using evil foreigners is racist. You can certainly argue that this is a lousy story (having just watched it, the lack of meaningful plot is fairly excruciating). But what you can't argue is that everyone knowingly intended that the word 'Celestial' was slang for Chinese, because the two concepts didn't exist together in the original script.

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  32. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 19, 2012 @ 2:45 am

    That would hold, were not not for the detail that the word "Celestial" was re-appended to the title after being at one point deleted, and, looking over the timeline Sullivan presents, re-appended shortly after the decision to render the Toymaker explicitly Chinese was taken. This explains, perhaps, how the then-archaic slang came into their heads, and suggests a level of pun and double-meaning, but I have trouble seeing it as proof that it is mere coincidence.

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  33. neroden@gmail
    December 14, 2013 @ 12:45 pm

    On top of this, the story manages to be a long chain of stereotypes; even the "dancing dolls" come off that way. I'd love to see what Tosh has to say about it.

    Here's what I've thought: Tosh seemed to have a taste for surrealist material which was full of Jung-style archetypes. Arguably inappropriate for Doctor Who, but what makes it really bad was that he just picked up all the stereotypes which had been around for a while and used them, without a thought to whether they were problematic — and they all were.

    The Ark is good enough that it admits of alternative readings. This story doesn't admit of any readings, unfortunately, and really is quite unlistenable, with the existing episode being unwatchable as well. It's hard to understand why Tosh was so fond of it.

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  34. John Harwood
    February 27, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

    .

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  35. John Harwood
    February 27, 2014 @ 4:19 pm

    I've NEVER thought of The Ark and Toymaker as racist, and that's having been familiar with both stories since the 70s. I must have read the novels of each 4 or 5 times and watched both stories over a dozen times since 1988.
    First, how exactly is The Ark "racist"? Can someone please explain that?
    Second, the term "nigger" (especially in that rhyme) WAS acceptable. Having asked my parents who were both in their 20s in the 60s, they tell me the word "nigger" was used openly by virtually everyone and not meant as a derogatory term at all. My mum tells me there was even a colour shade called "Nigger Brown" that was on labels of shoe polish! It might have been changed in the 40s in the US, but that doesnt mean youre going to overnight, just wipe it from people's vocabulary. It WAS just "of the time". Accept it.
    The Celestial Toymaker Chinese? I've never thought of him as such until you mentioned it. And I certainly cant detect a Chinese accent. Have you SEEN Talons of Weng Chiang? A white actor clearly playing a stereotypical Chinese man? You dont find THAT more questionable? Are you going to consider that "not a Dr.Who story" too?
    And finally, getting UPSET by these "racist" stories is frankly pathetic. Why does it matter to you? I've been a Who fan since 1974 and it doesnt bother me in the least. There are more important things to worry about than whether or not a 60s kids' series is racist. And to stamp your feet and say things like" It's simply NOT Dr.Who, it's just NOT", had me in stitches. Grow the fuck up mate, for God's sake. How old are you? Those stories ARE part of Who's history whether you like it or not. There's always a loony-leftie in there somewhere who sees racism in EVERYTHING, where no-one else does.

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  36. John Harwood
    February 27, 2014 @ 4:32 pm

    And who are YOU to say Dr.Who "is not about racism. It's just not"? Well, obviously it IS!! You've given YOUR examples of why it is, I've told you about Weng Chiang (and others mentioned it too), you had the General in Ambassadors of Death who was totally xenophobic, and never mind racism, what about blatant sexism? Dr.Who has been nothing BUT sexist for about 90% of its history, and I hear casual viewers/friends/ family mentiong THAT, not any supposed racism. Therefore to your average viewer Dr.Who is more noticably sexist than it is racist. Do you have a problem with that? If you DO, then you better "De-canonise" every story from 1963 through to when token "strong" women like Ace and Tegan appeared, because prior to that, the role of women in Who was strictly as something to ask questions, to not understand anything and for the Doctor to constantly rescue. And anyone who wants to take this up with me they can ring me on 07984 115704 and use their voice instead of their bloody keyboard.

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  37. John Harwood
    February 27, 2014 @ 4:54 pm

    You should also google "Dr.Who accused of 50 years of racism", to see the other side of your piss poor "argument". you're talking shite and you know it. I bet you're young aren't you? Probably somewhere between 18-mid 20s? Left-wing, pseudo-intellectual but consider yourself "academic", yes? I meet your type all the time. Wet behind the ears but thinks they've done it all, when in reality they've done NOTHING of any note and are ignorant.
    "Genesis of the Daleks": canon or racist? After all, the Daleks WERE based on Nazis. Oh and did you know Hartnell was a confirmed anti-semite? Better write off all the Hartnell stories, hadn't you? Moron!

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  38. Samuel Whiskers
    March 10, 2014 @ 1:03 pm

    Is he actually referred to as The Celestial Toymaker in the story? I thought he was just The Toymaker. You've described in earlier posts how these early stories didn't have overarching titles. I think the word 'Celestial' only appeared in the initial episode 'The Celestial Toyroom'.

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  39. Lokian Eule
    April 18, 2014 @ 11:54 am

    Wow, I wrote that three years ago and mistook The Ark for The Ark in Space. Well, that's a little embarrassing.

    Today I listened to the story "Solitaire" with Charley and the Celestial Toymaker facing off. It reminded me of your blog post and how I had a long conversation with someone about how the Toymaker was, in fact, not racist.

    Looking back on that conversation…well, I call bullshit. There's clearly some orientalism of some sort going on here. But it would be worth noting that the term "celestial" meaning Chinese fell out of use long by the early 1960s, and had thence come to mean "cosmic" like the present day meaning.

    I think what's also worth pointing out for readers is that doing yellowface extends past using prosthetics to imitate other races. This is something I did not understand three years ago…but maybe that's just me.

    It's sad that once again, there's an orientalist character and I like him. Li H'sen Chang and the Celestial Toymaker are both characters I really enjoy. What a shame.

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  40. lithrael
    July 28, 2014 @ 8:20 am

    Mr. Harwood, you are too crotchety to be on the internet. But I'll give your number to my nan and you two can have some sandwiches and talk about what a shame it is that everyone assumes you guys are racists just because you slip up now again and call darkies niggers.

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  41. N
    November 11, 2014 @ 10:51 pm

    I'm not sure about this. Surely the above point breaks the link between 'Celestial' and 'Chinese' that you claim? The Toymaker and 'Celestial' are linked in virtue of the fact that the Toymaker is some god-like heavenly being, and the Toymaker and being dressed in Chinese clothes are linked by the Towers of Hanoi game. But the only way you can link the Toymaker with the Chinese racial slur 'Celestial' is by assuming that they reintroduced the word, having deleted it, because the Toymaker was Chinese. You say that this explains how the slang came into their heads. But there is now no evidence that it did come into their heads at all. It could just be that they thought 'The Toymaker' did not sound very interesting after all, or any number of reasons. This is especially true given that we don't know why the word 'Celestial' was deleted, prior to the Toymaker being made to wear Chinese clothing. It's also worth nothing that the Toyroom is called the Celestial Toyroom even though it is not decked out in Chinese livery; which suggests that the word 'Celestial' applies to its ontological status, not its cultural one – why then should that not be true of the Toymaker?
    It's also relevant that in Marco Polo they did tape back Martin Miller's eyes, despite him being a notable actor – so I don't see why they shouldn't do it to Gough if they really wanted to convey he was Chinese – especially as, contra Marco Polo, this story wasn't set in China. And if Gough's clipped voice is meant to be a Chinese accent (and it does not sound like a stereotypical Chinese accent to me – contrast it with John Bennett's in Talons), and the Toymaker is meant to be Chinese, why does the Toymaker not talk in that accent all the time, but only use it to speak to the Trilogic game? Why, at the end, does the Doctor talk about the Toymaker using a 'special sort of voice' when talking to the Trilogic game, if this is meant to be a Chinese accent and the Toymaker is meant to be Chinese? Why does the Doctor not refer to the 'special sort of voice' as a Chinese accent?
    Furthermore, the definition of 'Celestial' as referring to Chinese that I have found suggests that it originated in the 19th Century and was not current in Britain, but rather elsewhere in the Anglosphere. Slang is very specific to time and location and, to be honest, I find it implausible to think that Tosh would even have been aware of that connotation of the word.

    Reply

  42. CFE
    June 13, 2015 @ 11:13 am

    I suppose there's a reading which positions the toymaker as a deliberate pastiche of Victoriana (like his toys), after all: it's the defence we give Talons. But this story really sucks and deserves no such defence.

    Also, Mr Harwood needs to sit down with a certain Miss Wright and tell her that she existed merely to "ask questions, to not understand anything". I love when people take their early-to-mid seventies assumptions the show and try to make them work in the Weird Sixties.

    Reply

  43. James
    July 21, 2016 @ 10:15 am

    There is a thread on GalifreyBase you should see – http://gallifreybase.com/forum/showthread.php?t=143501

    And for what its worth, Michael Gough is NOT speaking “Chinese-speak”, he is speaking the way he does in practically everything (sadly minus the spittle of Konga).

    Heaven help you if you ever see The Birth of a Nation.

    Reply

  44. LizR
    February 15, 2017 @ 7:37 am

    Although it’s true that Agatha Christie’s “Ten little niggers” was retitled “And then there were none” in the 1940s, this was done because the original title was considered offensive in the USA – but clearly it wasn’t in the UK at the time (a point supported by the dog in “The Dambusters” by the way). So there’s that…

    Although, on the other hand, that was a quarter of a century before “The Celestial Toymaker” of course, and the 60s were supposedly more enlightened times – although Enoch Powell and Alf Garnett might be called by the prosecution to argue against them being THAT enlightened (not to mention the original words of “Get Back”, apparently). So it’s likely the BBC was sufficiently “institutionally racist” (appropriately enough) for such attitudes to creep unnoticed into a popular TV programme, even one supposedly about a supporter of the underdog, whose main enemies are thinly disguised Nazis. I wonder if anyone made these objections at the time? It would be interesting to know.

    Reply

  45. ladysugarquill
    June 28, 2017 @ 1:37 am

    Dodo didn’t get fired because she wasn’t working as a character, they kicked her out because TPTB decided she looked too old on camera. Yeah.

    I love Dodo. She isn’t useless or stupid, she’s happy and fun and I hate that the writers didn’t know what to do with her.

    Reply

    • ladysugarquill
      June 28, 2017 @ 1:54 am

      “2010 we’re still using a racist caricature as a recurring villain is, frankly, disgusting. This is a real and major failing of Doctor Who fandom”

      Most people don’t know about it, though. The Toymaker appeared in one Companion Chronicle afaik, and the vast majority of the fandom hasn’t watched this story, nor they listen to Big Finish.

      Reply

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