TARDIS Index File

Season 23

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Season 23
14 episodes comprising 1 stories
Doctor: Sixth Doctor
Companion(s): Peri, Mel
Key crew
Producer(s): John Nathan-Turner
Script editor(s): Eric Saward
Series details
Start date: 6 September 1986
End date: 6 December 1986
Premiere network: BBC1
Typical episode length: 25'
More info
DWMSE: 3, 18
Key reference books about the season: The Discontinuity Guide, The Sixth Doctor Handbook, The Eighties, JN-T: The Life and Scandalous Times, About Time 6
Key documentaries about the season: The Making of The Trial of a Time Lord, The Lost Season
Relevant Myth Makers interviews: Nicola Bryant, Colin Baker (1990), John Nathan-Turner, Eric Saward, Colin Baker (2005)
Memorable moment
The Doctor in court - Extended Version - Doctor Who - The Trial of a Time Lord - BBC03:42

The Doctor in court - Extended Version - Doctor Who - The Trial of a Time Lord - BBC

Another memorable moment
The Doctor watches Peri die - Doctor Who - The Trial of a Timelord - BBC03:33

The Doctor watches Peri die - Doctor Who - The Trial of a Timelord - BBC

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22 24

Season 23 of Doctor Who ran between 6 September 1986 and 6 December 1986. It starred Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor. Though produced as four separate serials from a practical standpoint, it aired as a single, connected serial entitled The Trial of a Time Lord. With this season the BBC returned Doctor Who to an autumn season start for the first time since Season 18; this scheduling would remain for the rest of the original series' run.

Overview Edit

This season had a unique format, never again repeated in Who. Doctor Who had returned to production after a near-cancellation and an eighteen month production hiatus. For the first time, a season consisted of a single story, The Trial of a Time Lord, although this was broken down into four shorter serials with an overarching theme. This format was again reused in the third and fourth series of Torchwood. The trial storyline itself acted as a framing device to bracket the story. In the last two episodes, commonly known as The Ultimate Foe, the trial took centre stage.

In an interview in Doctor Who Magazine 448, Timelash author Glen McCoy said that he came up with the idea of the Doctor being put on trial.

The experiment of forty-five-minute episodes having been deemed a failure, the BBC reverted the series to twenty-five-minute episodes, but kept the episode count at fourteen, effectively halving the number of episodes in a season. The last episode, however, ran thirty minutes.

This format lasted for the remainder of the classic series. This was the final season to feature Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor; following its conclusion, Baker was fired. He did not return to play the Doctor for the regeneration that led off the next season. It was the last season to use the "neon tubing" logo introduced in 1980. A new arrangement of the Doctor Who theme by Dominic Glynn was introduced this season, but was only used for these fourteen episodes, before being replaced by another new arrangement.

Television stories Edit

Episodes Title Writer Notes
1-4 The Mysterious PlanetRobert HolmesFirst appearances of the Valeyard, Inquisitor, and Sabalom Glitz; Peri has begun dressing conservatively.
5-8 MindwarpPhilip MartinFinal appearance of Peri Brown.
9-12 Terror of the VervoidsPip and Jane BakerFirst appearance of Melanie Bush.
13-14 The Ultimate FoeRobert Holmes
Eric Saward (uncredited, part one only)
Pip and Jane Baker
Final appearances of the Valeyard and Inquisitor; Final appearance of the Sixth Doctor as played by Colin Baker. Final Doctor Who script for Robert Holmes.

Aborted Season 23 Edit

Prior to Doctor Who being placed on hiatus after Season 22, a slate of serials of standard length was planned, and scripts were written for several. The decision to recast Season 23 as a single interconnected arc resulted in production of these stories being cancelled.

Three of the stories were subsequently adapted as Target Books novelisations: The Nightmare Fair (which would have seen the return of the Celestial Toymaker), Mission to Magnus (featuring Sil and the Ice Warriors; Sil ultimately appeared in the Mindwarp segment of the Trial of A Time Lord), and The Ultimate Evil. An unofficial audio adaptation of The Nightmare Fair was also produced for charity in 2003.

Beginning in late 2009, Big Finish Productions launched a series of audio dramas covering scripts that had never made it to production, titled The Lost Stories. The first season featured adaptations of The Nightmare Fair, Mission to Magnus, and other story lines planned for the aborted Season 23.

Cast Edit

Recurring Edit

Guest Edit

Adaptations and merchandising Edit

Home media Edit

VHS Edit

  • The Trial of a Time Lord (packaged in a tin)

DVD Edit

All serials of The Trial of a Time Lord were released in a complete box set on 29 September 2008 in region 2, on 7 October 2008 in Region 1, and on 5 January 2009 in Region 4.

Novels Edit

Stories set during this season Edit

During The Ultimate Foe:

Before Terror of the Vervoids from Mel's perspective:

Between Terror of the Vervoids and The Ultimate Foe from Mel's perspective:

External links Edit


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