7C. The Ultimate Foe

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

Script Editor: Eric Saward
Produced by: John Nathan-Turner
Writers: Robert Holmes (11), Pip and Jane Baker (12)
Director: Chris Clough
Designer: Michael Trevor
Incidental Music: Dominic Glynn


All video evidence has been presented in the Doctor's trial, and it is nearly time for the verdict.

The Inquisitor asks the Doctor if he has any witnesses. The Doctor states that any witnesses are scattered throughout time and space, and would be difficult to find.

The Doctor has also maintained throughout the trial that the matrix evidence has been tampered with, to which the Inquisitor summons the Keeper, who states that it is impossible for anyone to get into the Matrix, let alone change the events.

At that moment the Master appears inside the Matrix, and he confirms that some of the events have been altered. On the subject of witnesses, the Master has taken the liberty of obtaining some on the Doctor's behalf - Mel and Glitz.

The Doctor cross-examines Glitz, and finds a conspiracy by the Time Lords: The three sleepers of Earth had found a way of breaking into the Matrix, and stealing facts, equations - secrets. The Time Lords, in an attempt to stop this, moved Earth two light years across space where it became known as Ravalox.

The Doctor also learned that the trial was organised by the Time Lords. The deal was that if the Doctor was found guilty then his remainig lives would be forfeit to the Valeyard - who is also known as 'the Doctor'.

The Valeyard disappears into the Matrix, and the Doctor and Glitz, and later Mel, follow. The Doctor finds a trap has been laid by Valeyard, and he gets Mel to rush back to the trial room to warn those present. When the Valeyard\'s TARDIS explodes, the Doctor returns to the trial room, where the Inquisitor has learnt that the evidence of Peri's death was false, and that she was living as a warrior Queen alongside King Ycarnos.

Regular Cast

  • Melanie Bush: Bonnie Langford

Guest Cast

  • The Valeyard: Michael Jayston
  • The Inquisitor: Lynda Bellingham
  • Sabalom Glitz: Tony Selby
  • The Master: Anthony Ainley
  • The Keeper Of The Matrix: James Bree
  • Mr. Popplewick: Geoffrey Hughes
  • 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
  • Clerk Of The Court: Ian Marshall Fisher
  • Court Guards: John Capper, Gary Forecast, Kevin O'Brien

Original broadcast on the BBC

Channel Title Date Viewers Rating
BBC 1 651. Part Thirteen Thursday, November 6, 1986 5:45 PM - 6:10 PM 5.6M 69%
BBC 1 652. Part Fourteen Wednesday, November 19, 1986 5:20 PM - 5:45 PM 4.4M 69%


  • Television Centre Studio 1
  • Television Centre Studio 3

Outside Locations

  • Camber Sands, East Sussex
  • Gladstone Pottery Museum, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs


Part 14: In the scene where the Master and Glitz leave the Doctor in the console room of the Master's TARDIS note that Glitz and the Master distinctly leave the console room and go into another part of the TARDIS. However, the next time you see Glitz and the Master (talking about the Doctor's imminent switch into a "zombie"), they are definitely standing in front of the scanner screen in the console room. Someone didn't feel like building an extra set for another room in the Master's TARDIS!

One of the many times that the Doctor interrupts the Matrix's replay of events, you could hear what sounds like studio direction just before the replay begins again. Most of it is unintelligible, but "take 6" can be distinctly heard as the action fades in on the monitor screen.

The whole Trial season had quite a few sound problems. At several points in the story the sound from earlier in the story is mixed in with the current sound. One example is where you suddenly hear, from out of nowhere, the Doctor saying "Very good!" That was clearly from the beginning of The Mysterious Planet when Peri said something about there not being any birds or flowers or something. The Doctor then said "Very good!" to her. But, much later on in the story it shouldn't magically come back.

Working Titles

Time Inc.


There is no script editor for Part Fourteen.

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.