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Trial of a Time Lord: 5-8

Production Code: 7B

First Transmitted

5 - 04/10/1986 17:45

6 - 11/10/1986 17:45

7 - 18/10/1986 17:45

8 - 25/10/1986 17:45


The Valeyard's second segment of evidence relates to the planet Thoros-Beta. Here the Doctor and Peri meet their old adversary Sil and others of his Mentor race, whose leader Kiv is awaiting an operation from a scientist named Crozier to transplant his brain into another body. They also form an uneasy alliance with a kidnapped Krontep warrior, King Yrcanos, and encounter a group of resistance fighters. Peri is eventually chosen as the recipient of Kiv's consciousness and is apparently killed in an ensuing mêlée sanctioned by the Time Lords to prevent Crozier's work from disturbing the balance of nature.

Episode Endings

The Doctor is strapped to an operating table in Crozier's laboratory and a metal helmet placed on his head. Sil instructs Crozier to use the equipment to extract from the Doctor the truth about his and Peri's earlier encounter with a sea creature called the Raak, which ended in the creature's death. Crozier warns that this could prove fatal, but Sil is unconcerned. The equipment is switched on and the Doctor convulses in agony.

King Yrcanos aims a gun at the Doctor, who has apparently allied himself with the Mentors, and tells him 'Now Doctor, it is your turn to die.' The Doctor looks horrified.

Peri, Yrcanos, Yrcanos's squire the Lukoser and the resistance fighters are all shot down by the Mentors' guards, led by Frax. Watching these events on the Matrix screen in the Time Lord courtroom, the Doctor protests that he was not responsible. The Valeyard, however, replies: 'In your mind, perhaps not. But in reality it is somewhat different, Doctor.' The Doctor looks perturbed.

The distraught Doctor alleges that the Time Lords had an ulterior motive for taking him out of time and thus preventing him from saving Peri - and he has every intention of finding out what it is. The Doctor looks resolute.


The Island of Doctor Moreau.


The Prisoner episode A Change of Mind.

Space: 1999 (The Metamorph).

Flash Gordon.

The Black Adder.

Mad scientist/brain transplant films.

Dialogue Triumphs

King Yrcanos : "Today prudence shall be our watchword. Tomorrow we shall soak the land in blood!"

Kiv : "Dead, no, worse than that - poor!"

Dialogue Disasters

Peri : "Nobody likes brain alteration."

Double Entendre

Inquisitor : "We had to act!"


The Doctor is taken out of time during this story [the Time Lords can remotely control the TARDIS, and force him to get into it by putting the Doctor into a trance. This was not possible during The War Games: perhaps changes were made to the Doctor's TARDIS during Arc of Infinity].

The Time Lords use Yrcanos as an assassin [to kill Crozier, his assistants, Kiv, Sil and to destroy the equipment, but not actually to kill the, still unharmed, Peri] because Crozier's discovery would affect natural evolution throughout the universe. [Not to mention giving everybody Time Lord length life spans.] They do this by holding him in a time bubble [frozen until his targets are in the ideal place for him to shoot them without risk].

The Raak is a genetically engineered amphibious creature. Another example of an unjust trial was that of the so called Witches of Enderheid. There is a Sondlex crop on Wilson 1. Skulnesh has very nasty sewers. There are seven-legged chargers on Corojaan.

Yrcanos is King of the Krontep, Lord of the Vingten, Conqueror of the Tonkonp Empire, whom he defeated on Thordon 2. The Krontep gods live on Verduna. Their warrior queens fight beside their kings. Yrcanos eats Flayfish. 'Screedner' is one of many Krontep swearwords. They believe in a form of reincarnation.

Kiv, leader of the Mentors, is addressed as Magnificence, and the centre of power is the Great Commerce Room. Their god is Morgo, and they have the same concept of hell, the Plague Hall of Mogdana, as do the Krontep [which says a lot about their cultural influence]. Thoros Alpha, home to a humanoid race called Alphans, enslaved by the Mentors, is in the same system as Thoros Beta.

Thoros Betan seas include the Sea of Turmoil, the Sea of Despair and Longing, and the Sea of Sorrows. There is an island called Brak. Some, less developed, Mentors have a sting in their tail. All of the universe's commodity markets can be accessed by a communications device called the warpfold relay. The Mentors are dealing with a representative from Posikar (a short reptilian [perhaps related to the Terileptils]).

It is never revealed how much of this story is fabricated.


The Doctor's Doctorate


Thoros Beta, 3 July 2379.

Future History

There will be many battles over the ringworlds of the planet Tokl in the 24th century. The Mentors approve a loan to the Search Conv Corps, a salvage company.



Immediately prior to this, the Doctor and Peri were on Thordon, where the warlords were being supplied phasers by Thoros Beta.


Part two sees larger-than-life actor Brian Blessed taking on the role of King Yrcanos. Also appearing is Christopher Ryan, who rose to prominence as one of The Young Ones in the BBC's pioneering alternative comedy series, heavily made-up and costumed as Kiv.


Crozier's equipment includes a lexifier and an endrodiotone.


The TARDIS is missing its information notice on location.

The third Mentor appears to be watching The A-Team on TV!

Fashion Victim

Peri's white stilettos. Very 80s.

Everybody's eye make up.

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - Colin Baker

Peri - Nicola Bryant

Crozier - Patrick Ryecart

Frax - Trevor Laird

King Yrcanos - Brian Blessed

Kiv - Christopher Ryan

Matrona Kani - Alibe Parsons

Mentor - Richard Henry

Sil - Nabil Shaban

The Inquisitor - Lynda Bellingham

The Lukoser - Thomas Branch

The Valeyard - Michael Jayston

Tuza - Gordon Warnecke


Director - Ron Jones

Assistant Floor Manager - Anna Price

Costumes - John Hearne

Designer - Andrew Howe-Davies

Incidental Music - Richard Hartley

Make-Up - Dorka Nieradzik

OB Cameraman - unknown

Producer - John Nathan-Turner

Production Assistant - Karen Jones

Production Associate - Angela Smith

Production Associate - June Collins uncredited

Script Editor - Eric Saward

Special Sounds - Dick Mills

Studio Lighting - Don Babbage

Studio Sound - Brian Clark

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Dominic Glyn

Visual Effects - Peter Wragg

Writer - Philip Martin

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'Scum!' Good design. The script tries to be comic, grotesque, straight and farcical all at the same time, and, directed without much thought, falls between several stools. Things happen really slowly, though Brian Blessed's way over-the-top performance helps. We're glad Peri didn't die, though, because, dramatic as it is, it's also a stupid way to go. Crozier's sip of tea before saving Kiv is way cool.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

The Thoros-Beta segment is a little better than part one - although, as Peter Anghelides pointed out in DWB Number 40, dated November 1986, it still has its problems: 'I think ... that the lack of depth in so many of the characterisations is because [writer] Philip Martin and [director] Ron Jones have failed to create a believable society. The power of Yrcanos, manifested in Brian Blessed's huge televisual presence, is thus undercut by our inability to visualise him as the head of an unseen army ... There is no unseen population we can conceive of [here]. This is despite attempts to give shape to Yrcanos's personality by taking time out to muse about the afterlife, his powers of leadership and his plans for marrying. Such scenes..., far from punctuating a racy narrative with moments of reflective non-narrative, instead hold up an already flagging storyline. With such an absence of narrative depth, the voiced threat that all future life in the universe is endangered by Crozier's work becomes hugely melodramatic. At the one moment where we might be concerned for the effects of the work, [specifically] the convincing transmogrification of the character we have known for many weeks, the whole emphasis of the end of Peri's role in the series is thrown onto the Doctor and his trial. So long and thanks for all the fish, as Kiv might say.'

One very positive feature of these Philip Martin scripted episodes is the return of Sil, as David Brunt argued in Muck and Devastation Issue Two: 'Nabil Shaban as Sil, more restrained than in Vengeance on Varos and minus his superloo, was in fine form and conning everyone in sight, with one eye on the profits and one eye on the door to make a quick getaway in true conman style.' It is good too to be introduced to some other members of Sil's race, including his long-suffering leader Kiv; and in Part Eight there is a very nice interlude - apparently added by Eric Saward - involving a elderly Mentor with an amusingly world-weary attitude.

The other characters in this segment of the story are, on the other hand, rather less memorable, even the usually excellent Patrick Ryecart failing to make much of an impression in the clichéd role of Crozier. 'The biggest disappointment for me was watching Tuza's great warrior army of half a dozen extras,' wrote Brunt. 'Even Gordon Warnecke didn't help matters with a terrible performance. That these were the battle trained army of warriors that Yrcanos intended to attack the Mentors with was stretching credibility a bit far; if they could fall into a deep depression at the sight of a polystyrene rock fall then the sight of a Mentor would have driven them all mad.'

One of the most dramatic and impressive moments of the entire season comes toward the end of Part Eight, as Anghelides described: 'Nicola Bryant's transformation was so alarmingly different when she became Kiv (additionally visualised by her baldness) that her exit from the series was horribly thrilling. Of the two stock options (marrying or killing her off), this is the one which seemed most appropriate, and which produced the best we've seen of the lead actress since The Caves of Androzani.' It is just a pity that this excellent and fitting final scene for Peri is completely undermined at the end of Part Fourteen when it is revealed that she did not in fact die after all but, unbelievably, went to live with King Yrcanos as his mate. As Nigel Griffiths put it in Muck and Devastation Issue Two: 'What a shame [John Nathan-Turner] decided to cop out on that brilliant exit.'

< Trial of a Time Lord: 1-4Sixth DoctorTrial of a Time Lord: 9-12 >

This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.

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