Who is the 'Doctor Who' villain Maestro? And what's their relationship with the Toymaker?

Jinkx Monsoon as the Maestro villain on Doctor Who holding a baton at a piano.
New villain Maestro (Jinkx Monsoon) is out to destroy music in 'Doctor Who' episode 'The Devil's Chord' (Image credit: Disney Plus/BBC)

There's a bum note at London's Abbey Road Studios. The Beatles are recording their 1963 debut LP as planned, but their music is nothing to (twist and) shout about, and they can't wait to finish the album and get back to Liverpool.

It's not the Fab Four's fault, however. In "Doctor Who" episode "The Devil's Chord", the malevolent Maestro is sucking all the music out of the world, and even the Doctor may be powerless to stop them. (Need a guide on how to watch Doctor Who? Check out our Doctor Who streaming guide for how to join the space-time traveling adventure from anywhere.)

Though perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised. Maestro is closely related to old-school antagonist the Toymaker, and the family is set to open the door on a whole new pantheon of "Doctor Who" gods. Here's everything you need to know.

Disney Plus

Disney Plus is now the international home of "Doctor Who." That means that viewers outside the U.K. can watch new "Doctor Who" episodes on the streamer — as well as the three David Tennant-starring 60th anniversary episodes, and Ncuti Gatwa's first full outing as the Time Lord, "The Church on Ruby Road". 

Episodes debut on Disney Plus at the same time they appear on BBC iPlayer.

Who is Maestro?

Jinkx Monsoon as the villain Maestro in the Doctor Who episode The Devil's Chord. (Image credit: Disney Plus/BBC)

Maestro (played by actor, singer and "Ru Paul's Drag Race" champion Jinkx Monsson) is a god-like entity who's been described by showrunner Russell T. Davies as "the Doctor's most powerful enemy yet." 

Indeed, their ability to materialize out of pianos and other musical instruments is more than just a cabaret act, as they can control and consume music — and even manipulate the TARDIS.

Related: The greatest Doctor Who villains ranked

 Why does Maestro want to silence music? 

This goes way beyond any irrational early '60s anti-rock 'n' roll sentiment, because sucking the energy out of music is literally the source of Maestro's awesome power. "Every song that goes unsung feeds me," they explain. "I get stronger and stronger until I can reach out and steal the music of the spheres. Then, the universe will stop turning."

The effects of their auditory binge — which kicks off in 1925 when composer Timothy Drake (Jeremy Limb) inadvertently plays the chord that unleashes Maestro — are far reaching. By 1963, the Beatles have been transformed into talentless hacks, while newspaper headlines announcing that Soviet premier Khrushchev is threatening neighboring Finland prove that history has already been altered. By the time this twisted timeline reaches 2024, London is a post-apocalyptic wasteland. "The sound of a nuclear winter," says Maestro. "The purest music of all."

What's Maestro's relationship with the Toymaker?

The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) in the "The Devil's Chord." (Image credit: Disney Plus/BBC)

There's a good reason why that maniacal laugh sounds familiar. Maestro is the child of the Toymaker (originally known as the Celestial Toymaker), the classic 1960s "Who" villain who returned in 60th anniversary special "The Giggle" (where he was played by Neil Patrick Harris). 

Where Maestro holds dominion over tunes, the Toymaker is the king of games, and both rank among the few Doctor Who villains capable of scaring the Doctor. In fact, the Doctor's December confrontation with the Toymaker "ripped me in half," prompting that much-talked-about, never-seen-before bigeneration.

It's worth noting, however, that even gods can possess an Achilles' heel. The Toymaker's reign of terror is foiled by a simple game of catch, while Maestro is vanquished by a well-timed Lennon/McCartney collaboration.

Will Maestro return for a second movement?

Jinkx Monsoon as the villain Maestro in the Doctor Who episode The Devil's Chord. (Image credit: Disney Plus/BBC)

That's one to file under "to be continued…" for now, though the fact their son Henry Arbinger (Kit Rakusen) turns up at Abbey Road during the song and dance routine at the end of "The Devil's Chord" may be a H.Arbinger of things to come. (See what we did there?)

Besides, Maestro clearly has some unfinished business with Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson). Why does the Doctor's new companion have "Carol of the Bells" "hidden deep inside her soul?" "How can a song have so much power?" And who or what is "the Oldest One," who may or may not have been present when Ruby was abandoned outside the church on Ruby Road in the "Doctor Who" Christmas special?  
Related: Doctor Who companions ranked worst to best

Will the Doctor and Ruby meet more gods this season?

The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) in leave the TARDIS in "The Devil's Chord." (Image credit: Disney Plus/BBC)

Yes — and it's not just a question of faith. Seconds before he was boxed in "The Giggle", the Toymaker threatened that "my legions are coming". And as showrunner Russell T. Davies told CinemaBlend, "There are more of these gods to come. I can promise you at least three more."

"[We're] keeping going with this fantastical strand, of this pantheon of gods," he added on documentary show "Doctor Who: Unleashed." "Some of us call them the 'gods of chaos', which is a great title. I don't know if it's official but I like it. I think introducing these gods, it starts to link them together. The Toymaker seems to be the supreme being of this pantheon. He's not. There's plenty of discoveries to come with that."

So which deities are still to cross the Doctor's path? The cryptically named "the One Who Waits" seems to be the most likely candidate. The Toymaker said it was an adversary so scary that he wouldn't challenge it to a game, though the Fourteenth Doctor (David Tennant) seemed unaware of its existence. Maestro also warned that, "the One Who Waits is almost here!"

Of course, the all-knowing threat may be hiding in plain sight. There's been some speculation that characters breaking the fourth wall (as Maestro and the Doctor both have this season) may offer a clue to their godly status. This would also make Ruby's neighbor, Mrs. Flood (Anita Dobson), a candidate.

For now we'll have to wait and see how this plays out — because as the episode's massive musical number reminds us:" "There's always a twist at the end."

"Doctor Who" streams on BBC iPlayer in the UK and Disney Plus elsewhere in the world. New episodes debut at 7pm ET/4pm PT on Fridays, and midnight on Saturdays in the UK. Our guide to watching new "Doctor Who" episodes explains more. 

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Richard Edwards
Space.com Contributor

Richard's love affair with outer space started when he saw the original "Star Wars" on TV aged four, and he spent much of the ’90s watching "Star Trek”, "Babylon 5” and “The X-Files" with his mum. After studying physics at university, he became a journalist, swapped science fact for science fiction, and hit the jackpot when he joined the team at SFX, the UK's biggest sci-fi and fantasy magazine. He liked it so much he stayed there for 12 years, four of them as editor. 

He's since gone freelance and passes his time writing about "Star Wars", "Star Trek" and superheroes for the likes of SFX, Total Film, TechRadar and GamesRadar+. He has met five Doctors, two Starfleet captains and one Luke Skywalker, and once sat in the cockpit of "Red Dwarf"'s Starbug.