7C. Terror Of The Vervoids

Season Twenty Three - 1986 (The Trial of a Time Lord)

Script Editor: Eric Saward
Produced by: John Nathan-Turner
Writers: Pip and Jane Baker
Director: Chris Clough
Designer: Dinah Walker
Incidental Music: Malcolm Clarke


This time it is the Doctor's turn for the defence, and he has chosen an event in his own personal future, introducing a new companion - Melaine (Mel) Bush from Pease Pottage, Earth.

The TARDIS materialises aboard the Hyperion III, a luxury space liner, after the Doctor and Mel responded to a distress call. The commander of the craft, Commodore Travers, an old acquaintance of the Doctor, insists that the no distress call was sent. There has been a mysterious death on board, and Travers insists that the Doctor stays on board where he can see him. The real reason is for the Doctor to catch the culprit for him.

The Doctor appears to take little interest in the crime, and it is left to Mel to investigate. Her investigations take her to the hold, where a section has been turned into a hydroponics centre. When she is given a guided tour her guide touches an electrified fence, and dies. The result is for a strange plant life-form to emerge from the pods.

More and more people start to disappear as the creatures roam the ship, using the ventilation ducts. Not only does the Doctor battle the Vervoids, but also has to prevent one of the scientists piloting the ship into a black hole, and to stop a take over attempt. Eventually the Doctor uses vianesium to bring to an end the Vervoids life cycle. The Valeyard, prosecuting the Doctor, asks if all the Vervoids were killed, to which the Doctor answers yes. The Valeyard seizes the chance, and despite anything that has happened before, brings the charge of 'genocide' against the Doctor.

Regular Cast

  • Melanie Bush: Bonnie Langford

Guest Cast

  • The Valeyard: Michael Jayston
  • The Inquisitor: Lynda Bellingham
  • Professor Sarah Laskey: Honor Blackman
  • Commodore Travers: Michael Craig
  • Security Officer Rudge: Denys Hawthorne
  • Janet: Yolande Palfrey
  • Doland: Malcolm Tierney
  • Bruchner: David Allister
  • Atza: Sam Howard
  • Ortezo: Leon Davis
  • Guards: Hugh Beverton (10-12), Martin Weedon (11)
  • Granville/Enzu (Hallet): Tony Scoggo (9-10)
  • Kimber: Arthur Hewlett
  • Edwards: Simon Slater (9, reprise 10)
  • Ruth Baxter: Barbara Ward (11 - 12 - credited as Mutant for 11)
  • Duty Officer: Mike Mungarvan (10)
  • First Vervoid: Peppi Borza (11-12)
  • Second Vervoid: Bob Appleby (11-12)
  • The Jury: David Backe, John Buckmaster, Rodney Cardiff, James Delaney, David Eynon, Peter Gates Fleming, Gary Forecast, Leslie Fry, Bob Hargreaves, Johnny Lee Harris, Jack Horton, Lew Hooper, Derek Hunt, Guy Matthews, Ken Pritchard, Roy Seeley, John Shereton, Kenneth Thomas, Leslie Weeks, Geoff Whitestone, David Wild, Llewellyn Williams; Vervoids: Paul Hillier, William Perrie, Jerry Manley, Gess Whitfield

Original broadcast on the BBC

Channel Title Date Viewers Rating
BBC 1 648. Part Nine Saturday, November 1, 1986 5:45 PM - 6:10 PM 5.2M 66%
BBC 1 649. Part Ten Saturday, November 8, 1986 5:45 PM - 6:10 PM 4.6M 69%
BBC 1 650. Part Eleven Saturday, November 15, 1986 5:45 PM - 6:10 PM 5.3M 69%
BBC 1 651. Part Twelve Saturday, November 22, 1986 5:45 PM - 6:10 PM 5.2M 69%


  • Television Centre Studio 1
  • Television Centre Studio 3


Part 12: After the Doctor has destroyed the Vervoid the camera shows a shot of him holding a leaf in his left hand. Cut to another shot, with Mel coming up beside him, and the leaf has magically moved to his right hand.

Part 12: When the Vervoids are dying one of them is blatantly a person in a black sweat suit with a mask and a few leaves - you can even see the drawstrings to the pants!

Somebody moves the TARDIS around between the first and last episodes. In episode 9, the bottom of the TARDIS is aligned with some yellow stripes on the floor of the Hyperion's cargo bay. In episode 12 however, the TARDIS is at an angle to these stripes.

Working Titles

The Vervoids


There is no script editor credited for the duration of these four episodes.

Although the whole season was shown on television as one long 14 part story, there are four segments with production codes, and the programme has been novelised in this form.