The story behind season 23 of Doctor Who – the story arc called ‘Trial Of A Timelord’ is infinitely more interesting than the actual end product.
During 1985, after a poor reception from Colin Baker’s first outing in season 22 – as the Doctor. Who was put on hiatus by the Beeb top brass – for 18 months and told to include; more humour – and less violence.
Other episodes, such as Vengeance On Varos were criticised for their depiction of an acid bath and public hangings. The Two Doctors had a cannibal called Shockeye – stabbing an incidental character and biting the head off of a rat.
So, in the prevailing 18 months in-between seasons; the Who production went back to the drawing board and a whole season of stories were scrapped.
Binned episodes included the return of the Celestial Toymaker in an episode to be shot on location in Blackpool, called The Nightmare Fair.
Yellow Fever and How to Cure It, would have featured the return of The Autons, with an appearance by The Master and The Rani.
Another story was titled ‘Mission to Magnus’, possibly ones called ‘The Ultimate Evil’, Chris H. Bidmead’s ‘The Hollows of Time‘. PJ Hammond’s ‘Paradise 5’ – were also contenders.
The story behind the season 23 that never was, is fascinating and it very well could have been the making of Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor. Some of these assumed lost Season 23 episodes, have recently been remade by Big Finish – as audio adventures.
With the new season scrapped and a decision by producer JNT and head script-writer Eric Saward to go with a rewritten season-long story-arc, of the Doctor on trial; to match the show’s real life predicament.
Robert Holmes died before completing part 2 of the 2-part The Ultimate Foe script. A job which then fell to head scripter; Eric Saward who turned in a draft based on Holmes notes.
However, after a number of bustups with producer JNT, Saward then walked and took his part 2 with him, threatening legal action if it was used without his consent.
The scope of the story moved aswell. Originally, it was to feature the Sixth Doctor and evil future Doctor duplicate – The Valeyard locked in a infinite timeless battle, one unable to outsmart the other. It was a bold stance for Who to take.
Producer JNT feared that this would give the Beeb top brass the ammunition to cancel the show, with it seemingly reaching a natural conclusion. So the ending was changed so that the Doctor continued on his travels, with new companion Mel.
The rest is history and Trial Of A Timelord whilst not particularly well received, was enough to save the show – for another 3 years.
The Beeb top brass commissioned another 3 seasons but only on the pretext that the Doctor was changed. Therefore, actor Colin Baker became the first Doctor in history, to be fired more here.