The latest 'lost' Doctor Who story to be restored with new animated visuals is 1966's The Celestial Toymaker, with a motion capture technique being applied alongside the existing soundtrack.


The visuals have been provided by Shapeshifter Studios, and mark a departure from previous restorations of missing episodes, which have featured a more traditional animation style.

Speaking at a screening of the new animation at BFI Southbank, audio engineer Mark Ayres – who has restored and enhanced the original soundtrack – described the technique as "experimental", and explained that it allows for greater fluidity of on-screen movement.

"This, basically, is all done with motion capture, so they've got actors in to act all the parts along to the soundtrack," said Ayres.

"It's all synchronised to the soundtrack – sometimes it doesn't work and I have to tweak the soundtrack where the dialogue hasn't quite synchronised. But it is a new technique, it is a motion capture technique, and it means the characters are far more fluid."

More like this

Ayres acknowledged that the "different" animation style might "divide opinion", but added: "[We've] put an awful lot of hard work into it – I'm proud of it and the animators in Australia, they have really worked hard on this."

The same technique was previously used to animate the missing third episode of 1968 story The Web of Fear, to a mixed reception from fans.

"I know it was very controversial then and they admit it didn't quite work," Ayres said. "It was a trial on a one-off episode, but they've refined it a lot since then.

"It is a new technique, and they've spent an awful lot of time developing the technique and improving it while they've been doing this."

A scene from the animated version of Doctor Who's "The Celestial Toymaker," showing characters standing in front of a large, yellow, robotic figure with a screen displaying the text "TRILOGIC GAME 902 of 1023." Red, glowing shapes float in the background, creating an eerie atmosphere.
Doctor Who's The Celestial Toymaker. BBC Studios

This new version of The Celestial Toymaker – which is available to pre-order on DVD and Blu-ray – will also feature better quality audio than fans have heard previously, with earlier releases having to rely on what Ayres called "a very dodgy recording".

The new recordings, Ayres said, are "much better than we've had before for this story", and were remarkably discovered at a landfill site.

Ayres's work included not just restoration of the existing tapes, but also the addition of new sound effects.

"I have enhanced the soundtrack a lot on this [...] but I've kept it all very in-keeping," he said. "I've tried to be very faithful to the original sound."

Read more:

Doctor Who: The Celestial Toymaker animation will be released soon on Blu-ray and DVD and is available to pre-order now.

Doctor Who is available on BBC iPlayer and on BritBox – you can sign up for a 7-day free trial here.

Check out more of our Sci-Fi coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


Try Radio Times magazine today and get 10 issues for only £10 – subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.