Home Colin Gallery The Brothers Doctor Who Thoughts Of A Timelord Biog Theatre TV Roles Contact Colin CBO Doctor Who 50 Weekly Blog: Bucks Free Press Colin @ Twitter Colin @ You Tube

The production team had 18 months during the infamous hiatus to come up with a series that justified Doctor Who being on our screens for 23 years. The resulting Trial Of A Time Lord was sadly a trial for the viewer, as well as the Doctor.


Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant return thankfully portraying the Doctor and Peri as friends rather than as travelling companions who were merely tolerating each other. Parts 1 – 4 (‘The Mysterious Planet’) were penned by the legendary DW scribe Robert Holmes who was charged with setting up the entire trial scenario. So, with the most spectacular effects sequence to date, the drama unfolds. Michael Jayston is stunning as the Valeyard,bringing the right amount of gravity to the situation which the Doctor deflects with childish reference to his name and a somewhat flippant attitude to the charges against him. During the first piece of evidence on the planet of Ravalox,The Doctor and Peri find themselves on an earth into the far future. The cutting between events and the courtroom are at first a novelty but it becomes very quickly quite tiresome . Tony Selby as Sabalom Glitz is perhaps the one true piece of inspired casting, even the ever reliable Joan Sims really has trouble convincing us she is the tribe leader Katryca. The fact is that this is simply not a strong enough season opener for such an ambitious story arc, at best it is pedestrian.


Parts 5 – 8 (‘Mindwarp’) by Philip Martin features the return of his creation Sil (played brilliantly again by Nabil Shaban). This segment from the immediate past of the Doctor is played out with a quality cast which includes Christopher Ryan, Patrick Ryecart and the completely undefinable talent that is Brian Blessed. Naturally Blessed as King Yrcanos does a lot of shouting – and indeed the entire character seems to be sending up the actor’s public perception – whilst the rest of them set about finding out what is going on in the caves of Thoros Beta. There’s a lot of capture and recapture going on,padding in other words, leading to a finale where Peri’s body is sacrificed to house the dying Kiv, providing perhaps the one truly dramatic moment of the story. The Doctor is taken out of time by the Time Lords before he can resolve the adventure, thereby creating a feeling of a story left unfinished.


Back to more traditional fare for parts 9 – 12 (‘Terror of the Vervoids’ by Pip and Jane Baker) set on the Hyperion III where The Doctor and his new companion Melanie Bush- yes, Bonnie Langford has arrived – investigate mysterious goings on. It’s a bit like an Agatha Christie who-dunnit in space. The mostly cheap looking set doesn’t do much to conjure up a world of creeping claustrophobic danger in a way that, say, Robots Of Death had managed to do a decade before. The Vervoids are quite nicely realised, especially when lit properly. However guest artist Honor Blackman does little to enhance the piece with her unquestionable talent who seems to coast through it as does Malcolm Tierney, only Michael Craig gives the piece any gravitas from among the guests in this section. With a charge of genocide aimed at the Doctor following the demise of the Vervoids,the scene is then set for the season finale, but oh dear it’s about to get messy.


Parts 13 & 14 (now known as ‘The Ultimate Foe’ among fan circles) were scripted by Robert Holmes and Pip & Jane Baker respectively. Who-lore has it that Holmes was to have written episode 14 but fell ill and Eric Saward then took over the task of writing the concluding episode. However, in an unprecedented move, a major bust up between JNT and Saward saw the latter resigning his post and withdrawing his script.At the eleventh hour, Pip & Jane Baker were awarded the task of trying to tie all the loose ends of a very complex season together without having the luxury of seeing what the script editor had planned. The scenes set in the Fantasy Factory show promise, as the true nature of the Valeyard is revealed. Once again, the completely unnecessary use of the Ainley’s tiresome Master just induces yawns from those committed to seeing the storyline through. Geoffrey Hughes as Mr. Popplewick is a great invention,and if only the finale had stayed on this track.As it is the entire final part is a bit of a mess, perhaps not the fault of Pip & Jane given the pressures they were under. Giving the Peri arc such a laughable conclusion as having her live with Yrcanos is breathtaking in it’s cop out. Scant reward for anyone who had hopes that this would be the renaissance Doctor Who needed.


It has to be said that Trial Of A Time Lord on the whole is an experiment that doesn’t work. After 18 months off screen, the show should have set out to capture viewers with adventures that could be enjoyed by families on a multitude of levels. As it is we get a confusing mish mash of events which tested the most devoted of Who admirers and was a further nail in the coffin of the show at the BBC. The major casualty of all of this is Colin Baker himself. Having been the one factor keeping the various plot strands from becoming totally incomprehensible, he gives admirable performances through all fourteen episodes.Proving that the sixth Doctor is well on his way to becoming the equal of his predecessors. As it was we were forced to say goodbye to Colin. The can for the Trial mess, should have rested on the shoulders of the one person whose very title says the responsibility for the quality stops with him: producer John Nathan-Turner. That he stayed on and Colin went would seem to suggest that total injustice reigned at this Trial.



Not a sex shop !

The courtroom were just in time for the latest Gallifreyan soap Ainley's Way !

In the BBC no one can hear you scream...

"You wouldn't talk to me like that if I were Bill Hartnell !"

Word from the gallery said that he was nearly out of time. Colin mistakenly thought they meant studio time...

The Valeyard. He wanted to surrender the Sixth Doctor's future - sadly Michael Grade liked the idea and stole it.

The Doctor is pleased to see his old mate Onslow.

Goodbye Sixth Doctor - we'll miss you !

The Trial Of A Timelord is available on BBC DVD as a box set (Regions 1, 2 & 4). It contains 14 episodes over four DVDS with four adventures: The Mysterious Planet, Mindwarp, Terror Of The Vervoids, The Ultimate Foe.

The TARDIS is drawn to a space station where the Doctor is subjected to a Time Lord inquiry into his behaviour, presided over by an Inquisitor. The prosecuting counsel, the Valeyard, presents the first piece of his evidence, which consists of a recording played back on a screen linked to the Matrix. It concerns a visit by the Doctor and Peri to the desolate planet Ravolox...

Thanks go to the Potteries Prydonians - Steve Worman and Paul Wood - for their help, Ron Brunwin for supplying artwork and Garry Jones for being a regular stalwart of the news section.
Extra special thanks go to the mighty Colin Baker himself for casting his mind back and helping catalogue his career.