Doctor Who: Season 23, Episode 1

The Trial of a Time Lord: Part One (6 Sep. 1986)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Drama | Sci-Fi
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 114 users  
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The Doctor is put on trail by the Time Lords again. The first of two events from his resent past is presented as evidence of his interference in the affairs of other worlds. In particular, his actions on planet Ravalox.



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Episode complete credited cast:
Lynda Bellingham ...
Joan Sims ...
Tony Selby ...
Roger Brierley ...
Drathro (voice)
David Rodigan ...
Broken Tooth
Adam Blackwood ...
Timothy Walker ...


The Doctor is pulled out of his time stream and summoned to a Time Lord space station above Gallifrey. On his arrival it is announced by the Inquisitor that the Doctor will stand trial. Accused of conduct unbecoming a Time Lord, the Doctor refutes the allegations made against him and chooses to mount his own defense rather than entrust his fate to a fellow Time Lord. Opposing the Doctor and appearing for the prosecution is the Valeyard, an enigmatic figure who is clearly out for the Doctor. Suffering from short term memory loss as a result being taken out of time, and puzzled as to the absence of his companion Peri, the Doctor can only sit back and watch as the Valeyard mounts his case against the eccentric time traveler. The first piece of evidence is taken from the Matrix, the repository of all Time Lord knowledge. It chronicles the Doctor's interference in affairs of the planet Ravalox, a planet very similar to Earth and which was partly decimated by a fireball several centuries ... Written by Robert McElwaine

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Release Date:

6 September 1986 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ian Ogilvy was a possible for The Valeyard. See more »


Balazar: Where are you from, old one?
The Doctor: Old one!
Balazar: What station did you disgrace with your miserable presence, water thief?
The Doctor: I may look old to you, wiskerless youth, but I'll have you know I'm in the prime of my life. I'm only nine-hundred years old.
See more »


Featured in Doctor Who Confidential: Lords and Masters (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

"Even I would find it hard to lose myself in a corridor." Something different?

Doctor Who: The Trial of a Time Lord: Part One starts as the TARDIS arrives on huge space station, mentally drawn there by the Time Lords. The Doctor (Colin Baker) is confronted by a Time Lord in a court room called the Valeyard (Michael Jayston) who is the prosecutor in an inquiry into the Doctor's behaviour & hopes to prove that he is unfit to be a Time Lord. More Time Lords enter the court room including the Inquisitor (Lynda Bellingham) & the inquiry begins, past events are shown on a computer screen fed from the Matrix to be presented as evidence by the Valeyard. To begin with events on the planet Ravolox in the Stellan galaxy are shown, after the Doctor & Peri (Nicola Bryant) are seen on the planet the Valeyard calls for a full blown trial & if found guilty the Doctor's life should be terminated...

Episode 1 from season 23 this Doctor Who adventure originally aired here in the UK during September 1986 & was the second time an entire season of Doctor Who was based around one central theme after The Key to Time from season sixteen with Tom Baker, after Revelation of the Daleks (1985) then BBC controller Michael Grade told producer John Nathan-Turner that there would be an extended break before season twenty-three started, that the 45 minute episode length was a failure so the show would revert back to 25 minute episodes & that the number of episodes would be reduced to just fourteen. Script editor Eric Saward & Nathan-Turner decided to make a season revolving the Doctor being put on trial almost mirroring the show's then real life situation, the structure of the season would be the same as that of the Charles Dicken's novel A Christmas Carol in that vignettes from the Doctor's past, present & future would be seen with the four parts of The Mysterious Planet making up the events from the past. The scripts for the whole season were by Robert Holmes & were divided up into four separate stories, although not seen on screen this opening four part segment was called The Mysterious Planet & it's started off well enough without being overly spectacular. The trial element is interesting & it's been ages since I last saw this so I'm looking forward to see how this part of the plot develops, otherwise this has started out rather routinely with the Doctor & his companion arriving on a planet & finding themselves in trouble which is a pretty familiar sounding scenario.

The Trial of a Time Lord had a rearranged theme music by Dominic Glynn, to be honest I'm not sure if I like it or not & the longer closing theme has a section which sounds like it was composed on a child's toy trumpet! It's alright I suppose but nowhere near as good as the previous opening theme music in my opinion, the opening & closing sequences are the same as the previous season's though. Along with the new remixed theme music this episode opens to a fantastic 45 second long model shot of the space station & the TARDIS entering it through a beam of light, apparently it cost £8,000 & was the single most expensive special effects shot in the entire history of classic Doctor Who & it show's because it's a great effect & probably the single best special effects shot featured in the entire series.

The Trial of a Time Lord: Part One of The Mysterious Planet is an OK opener to a not very well liked season, the opening model shot is superb but from there on in the rest of the episode is merely slightly above average.

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