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29 October 2014

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Trial of a Time Lord: 13-14

Production Code: 7C2

First Transmitted

13 - 29/11/1986 17:20

14 - 06/12/1986 17:45


With the evidence complete, the Doctor learns that the Master has gained illicit access to the Matrix in his TARDIS. Glitz is now revealed to be the Master's associate and the 'secrets' to be information stolen from the Matrix.

The Valeyard admits his identity as a distillation of the dark side of the Doctor's nature, somewhere between his twelfth and thirteenth incarnations, out to take control over his remaining lives.

With the help of Mel, who along with Glitz has been brought to the space station by the Master, the Doctor defeats his future self - although, as they leave in the TARDIS with all charges in the trial having been dropped, it appears that the Valeyard has taken over the body of the Keeper of the Matrix and may not have been as completely vanquished as they had thought...

Episode Endings

In the virtual reality of the Matrix, the Doctor finds himself on a beach. Hands emerge from the shingle beneath his feet and drag him down, threatening to pull him into the ground. The taunting voice of the Valeyard bids him goodbye. The Doctor shouts: 'No!'

Mel determines to subject the Doctor to a fitness regime, requiring him to drink carrot juice and use an exercise bike. They leave in the TARDIS, the Doctor sarcastically repeating: 'Carrot juice, carrot juice, carrot juice!' In the courtroom, the departing Inquisitor tells the Keeper to requisition anything he needs to effect repairs to the Matrix. The Keeper replies 'Yes, my lady.' When he turns, however, his face is that of the Valeyard.


Ananias (Acts 5) and Baron Munchausen are mentioned as notorious liars.

Hamlet (the undiscovered country speech).

An American Werewolf in London (the device of a dream sequence within a dream sequence).

Warlock comic (villain being a future version of the hero).

A Tale of Two Cities and Dickens in general.

Dialogue Triumphs

The Doctor : "In all my travelling throughout the universe I have battled against evil, against power mad conspirators. I should have stayed here. The oldest civilisation: decadent, degenerate, and rotten to the core. Power mad conspirators, Daleks, Sontarans... Cybermen, they're still in the nursery compared to us. Ten million years of absolute power. That's what it takes to be really corrupt."

The Master : [Attempting to hypnotise Glitz with a swinging watch] "Are you listening, Sabalom Glitz?"

Glitz : "Not really, I was just wondering how many grotzis this little bauble cost you."

Dialogue Disasters

Mel : "That's it, Doc, now we're getting at the dirt."

Mel : "I'm about as truthful, honest, and about as boring as they come."

Mel : "Never mind the Sidney Carton heroics."

Mel : "A megabyte modem!"

Mel : "How utterly evil!"

Valeyard : "There's nothing you can do to prevent the catharsis of spurious morality!"

Double Entendre

Keeper of the Matrix : "I came as soon as I could, my lady."


Time Lord civilisation has had great power for ten million years, the Doctor claiming it is the oldest civilisation [in the known universe?]. The Time Lord jury is the ultimate court of appeal, the 'supreme guardians of Gallifreyan law'. We are introduced to a new Gallifreyan post, Keeper of the Matrix [perhaps a new name for the Coordinator]. He carries the Key of Rassilon (see 'Invasion Of Time' - it's still a real key). You can't get [physically through the seventh door] into the Matrix without it. The Matrix is inspected approximately every thousand years, and the Keeper [unaware of the truth unless he is the Valeyard already] says that tampering is impossible. The Matrix can be physically entered [it now having become a fictional landscape of the same kind as the Celestial Toyroom or the Land of Fiction].

The original Matrix tapes are kept within the Matrix itself [in physical form, the Andromedans having stolen a copy]. These tapes are phase 3,4,5,and 6 [of recorded knowledge]. Phases 1 and 2 have been relegated to the Archives [being outdated]. Within the Matrix, different levels of perceived reality exist, the Doctor thinking he's on his way to a death chamber, while he appears to Mel to be on his way to a more ancient form of execution (otherwise, he might have been expected to be suspicious that his path to execution led through the Matrix).

The Valeyard has [hidden] in the Matrix a Particle Disseminator [which Mel recognises only as a bit of weird technology that she instantly and erroneously names] that disseminates gravitons, quarks and tau mesons [destroys matter, basically]. It's a physically real weapon [disguised in apt Victorian style] that will kill all those watching the Matrix in the court room.

The High Council have been deposed, and insurrectionists [CIA agents perhaps liaising with the Outsiders] are running amok in the Capitol. [The Master seems to be in touch with them, but makes a last minute bid for power on his own.]

Glitz and Mel [post 'The Trial of a Time Lord', pre-Dragonfire, although she doesn't refer to his regeneration, so probably only pre Time and the Rani] are brought to the space station [in cabinets previously prepared by the Master and pulled into one of the station's beams by his order from within the Matrix]. Mel hasn't met the Master before [so he forced her to get into the box rather than asking nicely] or Glitz.

The Master previously entered the Matrix, using a duplicate key, and has been watching the whole trial. The seventh door of the Matrix appears on the space station, much to the Keeper's surprise [indicating that it is moves, TARDIS like (cf the TARDIS door in Terminus)]. The door seems to have been summoned by a key holder, which the Keeper would do to inspect it. The Master and the Valeyard (since he's taken items inside) have duplicate keys. The Valeyard says he has unlimited access. The Master's TARDIS, disguised as a beach hut and a statue of Queen Victoria, is inside the Matrix [he flew it in, having summoned the door to the right location and the right size]. The Valeyard and the Master have had contact [over a long period].

The Matrix files slot into the Master's TARDIS console [a standard Gallifreyan information storage system]. But they're protected by a limbo atrophier [which secures the victim to the wall].

Sensory overload causes Time Lords to fall into a catatonic state (see The Monster of Peladon). The Sixth Doctor and the Valeyard have the same handwriting [in Battlefield, the Seventh Doctor and Merlin's handwriting is the same. However, it is possible that the Doctor's handwriting changes between The Sensorites and The Time Meddler].

Peri is Yrcanos' queen.

Glitz has done many business deals with the Master, including his mission to steal the Matrix secrets from Ravolox. He wears a mark seven postidion life preserver.

The Sleepers of Andromeda fled to Earth after they stole the secrets, hoping to evade the Time Lords. A Time Lord magnetron drew the Earth and its constellation [solar system and sun] billions of miles [about two light years] across space. [How this fooled the Andromedans, when there's nothing within over four light years of Earth anyway, is not explained: perhaps the Time Lords intended to destroy the Earth.] This was instigated by the High Council, and resulted in a fireball [a solar flare, caused by moving the sun] that nearly destroyed the planet. The world was renamed Ravolox, and the Andromedans set up a survival chamber underground. [The Andromedan rescue mission missed by two light years.]

Earth was moved several centuries before the trial, or, to put it another way, 5 years before the Doctor landed on Ravolox. [Thus the trial takes place around two million years after the 20th century, and Time Lord civilisation has existed from eight million years in Earth's past to (at least) two million years in the future. This would mean that the Doctor is born far in Earth's future and not c.2116 as he says in Nightmare of Eden.

The Valeyard was promised the Doctor's remaining incarnations by the High Council. He is an amalgamation of all the Doctor's evil, and is between the Doctor's 12th and final [13th] incarnation. [This distinction would only be made if the Valeyard is different from the Doctor's 12th and 13th selves. Thus, he seems to be of the same nature as Cho-Je (Planet of the Spiders) or the Watcher (Logopolis), a projection of the Doctor's future self, one which might not be like what the 13th incarnation actually turns out to be. He wants to make the Doctor's seventh incarnation onwards in his own image, to become the seventh Doctor.

He appears to be disseminated at the end [is he made of matter that can be destroyed?], but instead takes over the body of the Keeper of the Matrix [like the Watcher-like Master of The Keeper of Traken took over Tremas, presumably settling to defeat the will and become the next regeneration of this old Time Lord.]

Some of the space station furniture is made of machonite. The Inquisitor asks the Doctor to be President [a CIA suggestion? Glitz is presumably sent home, and the Master is to be punished, but escapes. Of course, with the powers of the new High Council, Earth might be put back in its original location, or even prevented from ever having been moved.]


Gallifrey [two million years or so after the 20th century].


Part Fourteen is around half an hour long; when editing of it was completed it was discovered that it had considerably overrun, but John Nathan-Turner was able to gain permission for the series' slot to be extended by five minutes for the week of its transmission so that most of the recorded material could be retained.

A brief clip of Peri is seen at the story's conclusion, when it is revealed that she has not in fact been killed but has escaped to become the consort of King Yrcanos.

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - Colin Baker

Melanie - Bonnie Langford

Glitz - Tony Selby

Keeper of the Matrix - James Bree

Popplewick - Geoffrey Hughes

The Inquisitor - Lynda Bellingham

The Master - Anthony Ainley

The Valeyard - Michael Jayston


Director - Chris Clough

Assistant Floor Manager - Karen Little

Costumes - Andrew Rose

Designer - Michael Trevor

Incidental Music - Dominic Glynn

Make-Up - Shaunna Harrison

OB Cameraman - unknown

Producer - John Nathan-Turner

Production Assistant - Jane Wellesley

Production Associate - Angela Smith

Script Editor - Eric Saward on episode thirteen

Script Editor - John Nathan-Turner uncredited, on episode fourteen

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 - Kevin Molloy

Writer - Robert Holmes

Writer - Pip Baker

Writer - Jane Baker

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'There is some evil in all of us, Doctor. Even you.' We watched the whole of 'Trial' in a day, and expected to hate it, but apart from padding in the middle, and some preposterous dialogue, the plot hangs together remarkably well. Episode 13 is a masterpiece, and Episode 14, considering the production nightmare, achieves near greatness. Major re-evaluation required.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

The best aspect of the last segment is that it contains some superb imagery in the scenes set in the Valeyard's fantasy domain within the Matrix. Chris Clough's direction is again excellent here and, after the relative disappointment of his opening episodes for the story, it's nice to be able to say that Robert Holmes's final credited script, that for Part Thirteen, is a good one.

As the conclusion to a fourteen-part story, however, these episodes remain a severe let-down. 'The trial ends in confusion,' wrote Diane McGinn in DWB No. 118, dated October 1993, 'with a plethora of different schemes and explanations fighting each other in such a way that the viewer is left with no idea what was really going on.'

The only real saving grace of The Trial of a Time Lord is that it shows Colin Baker's Doctor in a rather better light than before, and makes one realise just how significant a contribution he could have made to the series had his era not been cut unexpectedly short. 'The major failing of Colin Baker's Doctor in my opinion,' wrote Griffiths, 'has been the lack of feeling that [he] has... shown. For instance on the planet Varos his companion was in the process of being converted into a bird and he did not immediately attempt to stop it - reacting in a way that no other Doctor would have... This led to the viewer not seeing [him] as a hero and [losing] interest in him. However during the trial Colin made the Doctor into a more appealing character, showing real sadness at the supposed death of Peri ... and real outrage at the activities of the Time Lords.'

Despite this, The Trial of a Time Lord can only be considered a monumental wasted opportunity; a grave disappointment for which the usual mitigating factors - lack of time and money - cannot, for once, be held to account.

< Trial of a Time Lord: 9-12Sixth DoctorTime and the Rani >

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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