The story behind ‘Trial Of A Time Lord’ – season 23, is infinitely more interesting – than the actual televised final product.
During 1985, after a poor reception to Colin Baker’s first outing in season 22. 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; needlessly stabbing an incidental character – and biting the head off of a rat.
So, in the prevailing 18 months; in-between season 22 and 23. Production went back to the drawing board and a whole season of stories, were ultimately scrapped.
Cancelled 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’. Others include; ‘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, a decision was made by producer JNT (and head script-writer Eric Saward) to go with a re-written season-long story-arc, of the Doctor on trial; to match the show’s real life predicament.
Robert Holmes died, before completing episode two of the two-part finale; The Ultimate Foe script. A job which then fell to head script-writer; Eric Saward. Saward turned in a draft of the new script, based on Holmes production notes.
However, after a number of bustups with producer JNT, Saward then walked – and took his episode two – 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. Enternally locked in a infinite battle, one unable to outsmart the other. It was a bold stance for Doctor Who to take.
Producer JNT feared, that this ending would give the Beeb top-brass; the necessary ammunition to cancel the show. With the infinite battle ending, seemingly feeling like a natural conclusion – to the show. 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 Time Lord – whilst not particularly well received; was enough to save the show. At least, for another 3 years.
The Beeb top brass, commissioned another 3 seasons but only on the pretext – that the Doctor actor was changed. Therefore, actor Colin Baker became the first Doctor in history, to be fired more here.