Doctor Who: Season 23, Episode 9

The Trial of a Time Lord: Part Nine (1 Nov. 1986)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Drama | Horror
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 110 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 1 critic

As the trail continues, the Doctor presents an event from his future as evidence of his reform.


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Title: The Trial of a Time Lord: Part Nine (01 Nov 1986)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Bonnie Langford ...
Lynda Bellingham ...
Michael Craig ...
Denys Hawthorne ...
Yolande Palfrey ...
David Allister ...
Tony Scoggo ...
Arthur Hewlett ...
Sam Howard ...
Leon Davis ...


With the case for the prosecution concluded, the Doctor begins his presentation for the defense. Afforded the same privileges as the Valeyard, with access to the Matrix, the Doctor presents evidence that's to take place in his own future. Now in the company of a new, energetic traveling companion named Mel, the Time Lord answers a mayday from the Hypherion III. a luxury star-liner that ferries between planets Moga and Earth. Brought before Commodore Tonker Travers, an old acquaintance of the Doctor's, the Time Lord is dismayed that Travers is far from pleased at his presence. The Commodore knows from experience that, whenever the eccentric time traveler appears, all hell breaks loose. Confined to guest areas of the ship, the Doctor and Mel attempt to discover who sent the mayday, but it's an investigation that will lead to a more alarming threat than either could have dared to imagine, one which involves a web of intrigue and a dark secret concealed within the ship's cargo hold. Written by Robert McElwaine

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Release Date:

1 November 1986 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to the DVD Commentary Michael Craig was under the impression he had been cast in this because of his same sort of role in the infamous Triangle (1981). But Chris Clough, the director who cast him, denies this saying he had not seen Triangle. See more »


Commodore Travers: If I seem to lack gratitude, young woman...
The Doctor: Melanie, known as Mel.
Commodore Travers: is because on the previous occasion that the Doctor's path crossed mine, I found myself involved in a web of mayhem and intrigue.
The Doctor: Ah, saved your ship, though, Commodore.
Commodore Travers: Yes, you did, though whether it would have been at risk without your intervention is another matter.
See more »

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User Reviews

"Whoever's been dumped in there has been pulverised into fragments and sent floating into space, and in my book, that's murder." The best segment begins...

Doctor Who: The Trial of a Time Lord: Part Nine starts as the Valeyard (Michael Jayston) wraps his case for the prosecution up citing the death of Peri (Nicola Bryant) as one of the Doctor's (Colin Baker) crimes, shocked at seeing Peri die the Doctor has to compose himself & present the case for the defense. The Doctor calls on the Matrix to show events from his future that takes place on-board an intergalactic liner called the Hyperion III during a scheduled flight from the planet Mogar to Earth during the year 2986, the Doctor lands the TARDIS on the Hyperion III liner after receiving a mayday message. Together with a young girl named Melanie (Bonnie Langford) the Doctor discovers that all is not well aboard the Hyperion III with several mysterious & sinister events taking place including the apparent murder of a special investigator named Grenville (Tony Scoggo) & the secrecy around some large vegetable like pods...

Episode 9 from season 23 this Doctor Who adventure originally aired here in the UK during November 1986 & was the first part of the third & final mini four part story segment of The Trial of a Time Lord season better known on it's own as Terror of the Vervoids, directed by Chris Clough & despite the presence of the much maligned Bonnie Langford it's generally thought that Terror of the Vervoids is the best of The Trial of a Time Lord stories & it's pretty easy to see why. The script by Pip & Jane Baker continues the Charles Dickens novel A Christmas Carol theme & is set in the Doctor's future with The Mysterious Planet set in the past & Mindwarp set during the present. In my opinion it is just better than either The Mysterious Planet or Mindwarp on a few levels, firstly the court room scenes are kept to a minimum & during the whole of this episode there are only two with one at the very start & one just before the end which helps the flow of the story & stops the viewer from being dragged out of it at regular intervals, the basic plot is also much better with more mystery, more intrigue in a nice little whodunit scenario. It's not perfect that's for sure but it's entertaining & certainly grabs you a lot more than the previous two stories did. I think I spotted a pretty obvious goof here, Professor Lasky complains that her luggage isn't in her room which happens to be room 6 & Rudge says she has the key upside-down & her room is actually number 9, if that's the case & Lasky had the key for room 9 how did she enter room 6 to know her luggage wasn't there in the first place? I guess producer John Nathan-Turner taking over as script editor wasn't such a good idea...

There's more special effects during this story than the other's, the shots of the Hyperion III in space look alright actually to be fair although they obviously don't stand up that well when compared to today's CGI masterpieces. Terror of the Vervoids also sees the introduction of Mel played by Bonnie Langford who seems universally disliked (her casting was one of the reasons why script editor Eric Saward resigned), unusually Mel is already a companion when we first see her which means besides the very first companion Susan from the 60's she's the only other companion not to get an introductory story. While filming the cliffhanger ending to this episode Langford was apparently asked to scream in the key of F which would make for a seemingly perfect transition into the closing theme music! Personally I don't mind her, I don't think she's great or anything but I don't mind her & I liked her outfit too but then I'm weird so maybe that's why.

The Trial of a Time Lord: Part Nine, or Terror of the Vervoids Part One, is a decent opening to the best of The Trial of a Time Lord stories & it's as simple as that really.

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