|14 episodes comprising 1 stories|
|Script editor(s):||Eric Saward|
|Start date:||6 September 1986|
|End date:||6 December 1986|
|Typical episode length:||25'|
|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)|
|Another memorable moment|
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 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.
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.
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.
|1-4||The Mysterious Planet||Robert Holmes||First appearances of the Valeyard, Inquisitor, and Sabalom Glitz; Peri has begun dressing conservatively|
|5-8||Mindwarp||Philip Martin||Final appearance of Peri Brown|
|9-12||Terror of the Vervoids||Pip and Jane Baker||First appearance of Melanie Bush|
|13-14||The Ultimate Foe||Robert 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
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 arc), and The Ultimate Evil. An unofficial audio adaptation of The Nightmare Fair was also produced for charity in the early 2000s.
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.
- The Sixth Doctor - Colin Baker
- The Valeyard - Michael Jayston
- The Inquisitor - Lynda Bellingham
- Peri Brown - Nicola Bryant
- Melanie Bush - Bonnie Langford
- Sabalom Glitz - Tony Selby
- Kiv - Christopher Ryan
- The Master - Anthony Ainley
- Katryca - Joan Sims
- Dibber - Glen Murphy
- King Yrcanos - Brian Blessed
- Sil - Nabil Shaban
- Professor Lasky - Honor Blackman
- Commodore Travers - Michael Craig
- Janet - Yolande Palfrey
- Mr Popplewick - Geoffrey Hughes
Adaptations and merchandising
- The Trial of a Time Lord (packaged in a tin)
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.
Stories set during this season
During The Ultimate Foe:
Before Terror of the Vervoids from Mel's perspective: