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From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

Season 23 of Doctor Who ran between 6th September 1986 and 6th December 1986. Though produced as four separate serials from a practical standpoint, it aired as a single serial entitled The Trial of a Time Lord. It starred Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor. With this season the BBC returned Doctor Who to a fall season start for the first time since Season 18; this scheduling would remain for the remainder of the original series' run.



This season had a unique, never-repeated format. Doctor Who had returned to production after a near-cancellation and an 18 month long production hiatus. For the first time, a season consisted of one single story, The Trial of a Time Lord, however this was broken down into four shorter serials with an overarching theme. The trial storyline itself acted as a framing device bracketing the story. In the last two episodes, commonly known as The Ultimate Foe, the trial took center stage. The experiment of 45-minute episodes having been deemed a failure, the BBC reverted the series back to 25-minute episodes, but kept the episode count at 14, effectively halving the number of episodes available for a season. The last episode, however, ran to 30 minutes. Uniquely, so far, not one of the stories had any scenes set in modern-day (or historical) Earth.

This format remained for the remainder of the classic series. This was the final season to feature Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor; following its conclusion, Baker was removed from the role and did not return to play the Doctor for the regeneration that led off the next season. It was the last season to use the "neon tubing" logo introduced in 1980. A new arrangement of the Doctor Who theme was introduced this season, but was only used for these 14 episodes before being replaced by another new arrangement.


Episodes Title Writer Notes
1-4 The Mysterious Planet Robert Holmes First appearances of the Valeyard, Inquisitor, and Sabalom Glitz
5-8 Mindwarp Philip Martin Final appearance of Peri Brown
9-12 Terror of the Vervoids Pip and Jane Baker First appearance of Melanie Bush
13-14 The Ultimate Foe Robert Holmes
Pip and Jane Baker
Final appearances of the Valeyard and Inquisitor; Final performance of Colin Baker as the Doctor. Final Doctor Who script for Robert Holmes

Aborted Season 23

Prior to Doctor Who being placed on hiatus after Season 22, a slate of serials of standard length was planned, and scripts were written for several. The decision to recast Season 23 as a single interconnected arc resulted in production of these stories being cancelled.

Three of the stories were subsequently adapted as Target Books novelisations: The Nightmare Fair (which would have seen the return of the Celestial Toymaker), Mission to Magnus (featuring Sil and the Ice Warriors, Sil ultimately appeared in the Mindwarp segment of the Trial arc), and The Ultimate Evil. An unofficial audio adaptation of The Nightmare Fair was also produced for charity in the early 2000s.

Beginning in late 2009, Big Finish Productions is launching a series of audio dramas starring Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant based upon The Nightmare Fair, Mission to Magnus, and other storylines planned for the aborted Season 23. The productions are subtitled The Lost Stories.




Adaptations and merchandising



  • The Trial of a Time Lord
Packaged in a tin.


  • The Trial of a Time Lord



External Links

Doctor Who by season/series
Classic Series: 1234567891011121314151617181920212223242526
1996 movie
New Series: 12342009 Specials5
Season 23/The Trial of a Time Lord
The Mysterious Planet  • Mindwarp  • Terror of the Vervoids  • The Ultimate Foe
Aliens and Enemies of A Trial of a Time Lord
Overall: The Valeyard  • Time Lords
The Mysterious Planet: Drathro  • L1 Mindwarp: Kiv  • Sil  • Mentors  • Thoros Alphans  • The Lukoser  • Posikar representative  • The Raak
Terror of the Vervoids: Mogarians  • Vervoids The Ultimate Foe: The Master

This article uses material from the "Season 23" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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