Doctor Who (1963–1989)
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The Trial of a Time Lord: Part Nine 

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


Chris Clough


Pip Baker, Jane Baker




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Colin Baker ... The Doctor
Bonnie Langford ... Melanie
Michael Jayston ... The Valeyard
Lynda Bellingham ... The Inquisitor
Honor Blackman ... Professor Lasky
Michael Craig ... Commodore
Denys Hawthorne Denys Hawthorne ... Rudge
Yolande Palfrey Yolande Palfrey ... Janet
Malcolm Tierney ... Doland
David Allister David Allister ... Bruchner
Tony Scoggo Tony Scoggo ... Grenville
Arthur Hewlett ... Kimber
Simon Slater ... Edwardes
Sam Howard Sam Howard ... Atza
Leon Davis Leon Davis ... Ortezo


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) See more »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Doctor: Just a minute! I don't remember that!
The Inquisitor: How could you remember? These events are in your future.
See more »


Referenced in Was Doctor Who Rubbish? (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

Terror of the Vervoids
21 September 2019 | by A_Kind_Of_CineMagicSee all my reviews

Review of Parts 9 to 12 of Trial of a Timelord:

This is the third segment of The Trial of a Timelord. This segment which spans parts 9 to 12 of the season long arc is known as Terror of the Vervoids.

The ongoing story of the trial (where The Doctor is charged with interference and causing death) flashes back and fore with the story of the Vervoids which is shown by The Doctor as evidence in his defense. Script editor Eric Saward and producer John Nathan-Turner stuck with the original idea of having segments representing past, present and future so commisioned Pip and Jane Baker to write this story involving events from the Doctor's future being used as evidence. Sadly that makes no sense at all and the Bakers are not good enough writers to carry it off.

Of all the stuff the Doctor could have presented in his defense he supposedly chooses events from his future that he has 'researched' in a break in the trial. This is presented as him trying to show he will change for the better. It is silly. He should clearly show evidence of why his interference in events he knows well in the past have been beneficial and justified. The story we get has him joined by a 'future' companion Mel as they visit a spacecraft which has a kind of health farm aspect and discovering murders and mayhem which involves humans up to no good and plant creatures 'the Vervoids' becoming a danger. This illogical use of future events is a big minus and leads to complications which culminate in the final episode as we see that using this as evidence in his defense was the dumbest idea ever, even if that evidence had not been tampered with (which it is suggested it may have been).

The story starts off with the obviously weird use of future evidence and with a silly health farm and exercise theme. Other than that the first episode is not too bad. It has some mystery and potential to be OK. It is decently acted with Honor Blackman guest starring. Colin Baker is thankfully showing his warm, caring and likable personality rather than the unfortunate 'dark side' that had been pushed in various stories. The nicer 6th Doctor and a friendly banter with Mel is a very welcome aspect and a big plus throughout the story. Bonnie Langford is fine as Mel in this story seeming quite resourceful and bright but is made to do some annoying 'personal trainer' material on occasion and scream loudly on a number of occasions which is annoying.

The second episode is the best I feel as the mystery elements and the relationship of 6 and Mel is at its peak. The trial aspects are also decent at this point. In the third episode things start to fall apart a bit as the plot gets way over complicated and messy and the silliness of the use of this future evidence becomes more apparent. The Vervoids are also not well realised with unimpressive appearance, unclear motivation and inadequate voices. These issues increase in final episode with the uncomfortable, foolish addition of the Doctor appearing to commit 'genocide' and being accused of this on top of his other supposed crimes. It is claimed evidence has been tampered with but why on Earth would any of these events act in his defence as opposed to all the heroic events in his life he could have shown?

Overall this is a weak story with garish tasteless sets, illogical plot aspects, messy action and uninspired dialogue. The positives are the characterisation of the Doctor by Colin, his relationship with Mel, the mystery elements, a few decent scenes, Lynda Bellingham and Michael Jayston in the trial and Honor Blackman's graceful guest role. The dialogue and action in the first 3 episodes are nothing special at all but not awful apart from the idea of using the future events. The 4th episodes matches some of the least appealing Doctor Who episodes as it is a mess with very unwise story choices.

My ratings: Episode 1 - 4.5/10, Episode 2 - 6/10, Episode 3 - 4.5/10, Episode 4 - 3/10. Overall - 4.5/10.

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