The Trial of the Time Lord (Mindwarp): Part Eight
First Broadcast October 25th, 1986 @ 5.45pm (5m viewers)
30 years ago today Nicola Bryant, companion to the Fifth and Sixth Doctor, departed the series. When cast, Bryant signed a three-year contract. Due to the hiatus and abandonment of the original plans for Season 23, she lost one of those three years but declined to stay on. Knowing she would be leaving, Bryant requested that she departed in dramatic fashion and she got her wish.
‘Mindwarp’ is a little confusing because of the Doctor’s behaviour. It is unclear at various points which side he is on, for instance when Peri is strapped to the rocks during Part Six. This confusion is not helped by the Doctor experiencing amnesia concerning these events, which are defined as his most recent adventure prior to his trial. Less helpful still is the regular cutting back to the courtroom, slowing the action of the central narrative. Whilst in the courtroom The Doctor claims that the evidence has been tampered with, further muddying the waters. Things then take another turn for the worse as the Doctor is removed from the action altogether and events reach a dramatic conclusion.
Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)
The climax of events is revealed to have been controlled by the Time Lord High Council. This is quite a revelation for a number of reasons. Firstly, The Doctor is on trial, for the second time, for his interference in the affairs of other planets. Yet the Time Lords have done just that, using Yrcarnos to do their dirty work. Secondly, it didn’t really seem like Crozier’s experiments and discoveries would really have jeopardised universal evolution. He has merely extended the life of a Mentor suffering migraines. Anyway, Nicola Bryant is frankly terrifying. The shaved head and booming voice are such a change from the likeable American we once knew. Yrcanos’ expression of horror and disbelief is shared by the viewers and he guns Peri down.
Discussion concerning the end of Peri has to be accompanied by an epilogue. For some reason, largely because of the confusion regarding the legitimacy of the evidence from the Matrix highlighted by Colin Baker, an additional revelation was added to the concluding episode of the trial. The Inquisitor informs The Doctor that Peri actually survived and is living as a warrior queen with Yrcanos. Brian Blessed’s character is, like him, larger than life and perhaps that would be a fate worse than death. But for the series to rewrite this dramatic moment is very disappointing and open to debate. Perhaps Nicola Bryant’s original wishes of a dramatic exit should be respected and considered the real events?
The Doctor – Colin Baker
Peri – Nicola Bryant
Balazar – Adam Blackwood
Broken Tooth – David Rodigan
Dibber – Glen Murphy
Glitz – Tony Selby
Grell – Timothy Walker
Humker – Billy McColl
Katryca – Joan Sims
Merdeen – Tom Chadbon
Tandrell – Sion Tudor Owen
The Inquisitor – Lynda Bellingham
The Valeyard – Michael Jayston
Director – Nicholas Mallett
Producer – John Nathan-Turner
Script Editor – Eric Saward
Writer – Robert Holmes
Also First Aired On This Day…
- Pyramids of Mars: Part One
- Full Circle: Part One
- The Curse of Fenric: Part One
- The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Death of the Doctor: Episode One
- In the Forest of the Night