"Mindwarp" is the title that has been given to parts five to eight of The Trial of a Time Lord, the season-long storyline that constituted Season Twenty Three.
The title "Mindwarp" is not used on screen and appears only on the story’s scripts with the four episodes that comprise the story being transmitted as Parts Five to Eight of The Trial of a Time Lord. This story marks the final appearance of Nicola Bryant as companion Peri Brown.
This story also sees the return of Sil (from Thoros-Beta) to the show - from last seasons’ "Vengeance on Varos". The villainous Sil had proved highly popular with The Doctor Who production team, and Philip Martin was quickly asked to bring the character back for a second story in the show. Sil had been due to return to the show in a story entitled "Planet of Storms", later renamed "Mission to Magnus", also featuring the Ice Warriors, for the aborted original Twenty Third season. "Mission to Magnus" had also been written by Philip Martin. Over Twenty years later, Nabil Shaban returned to help resurrect this story for Big Finish Productions audio adaptation as part of The Lost Stories range.
Using an idea taken from the Charles Dickens novel A Christmas Carol, each story that makes up The Trial of a Time Lord season included evidence taken from The Doctor’s past, present and future. Being the second story of the season Philip Martin was asked to write the second segment, set in the ‘present’ - or, more specifically immediately preceding The Doctor’s arrival at the Time Lord courtroom at the start of the first episode of "The Mysterious Planet".
Some time though has passed for The Doctor and Peri since leaving Ravallox in the previous segment of evidence, possibly many months. They have travelled to Thoros Beta directly from an encounter with a dying Warlord of Thorden who had been supplied with advanced beam weapons from there. The Doctor has travelled there accordingly to investigate the arms sales. The exchange with the Warlord would seem to have been part of an extended encounter, as Peri notes his lusting after her prior to his death.
Philip Martin was also asked to kill off Peri in the final episode of this story as Nicola Bryant was beginning to worry that her acting career was being hampered by a prolonged association with the show and so it had been decided to replace Peri with new companion Melanie Bush mid-season.
This story was directed by Ron Jones, who had also directed last seasons’ "Vengeance on Varos".
The guest cast included the larger-than-life actor Bryan Blessed playing the part of King Yrcanos. Bryan Blessed was best known for his work in Z Cars amongst many other programmes and who had been widely - if erroneously - been reported, in 1983, as the actor who would have replaced Peter Davison as The Doctor.
Comic actor Christopher Ryan (who rose to prominence in The Young Ones) played the part of the heavily made-up and costumed Kiv. Christopher Ryan returned to show, as Sontaran leader General Staal, in the 2008 Tenth Doctor story "The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky", and again as another Sontaran, Commander Strak, in the 2010 Eleventh Doctor story "The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang".
Nabil Shaban (who played the part of Sil) reprises his role from last seasons’ "Vengeance on Varos".
Trevor Laird (who played the part of Frax) returned to Doctor Who in the Tenth Doctor’s era as Clive Jones, father of The Doctor’s companion Martha Jones. Trevor Laird is to date the only actor to play a recurring character in the BBC Wales version of the show, who also appeared in the original run of the show.
It was during the pre-production of this story that Script Editor Eric Saward resigned from the show - due to his working relationship with Producer John Nathan-Turner deteriorating. Even before his resignation, signs of Eric Saward’s discontent with the show were clear. Even being unable to offer any explanation - on whether The Doctor’s unhinged behaviour in this story was caused by Crozier’s machine, The Valeyard’s tampering with Matrix evidence, or just a trick - when Colin Baker had approached the script editor seeking clarification.
Normally location recording would take place before any studio work but the opposite took place for this story. Despite the first recording session going badly behind schedule the production team got things back on track through during the second recording session. This even allowed the recording of an early scene from the first episode of the preceding story, "The Mysterious Planet", of The Doctor arriving on the Time Lords’ space station. This was then followed by the location footage being taped on a pebble beach near Brighton.
Colourisation of and additions to the Thoros-Beta sky were achieved by the HARRY digital image manipulation process, the first implementation of this on the show.
Initially it was intended that the BBC Radiophonic Workshop would provide music scores for both this and "Terror of the Vervoids". Both were assigned to Malcolm Clarke to begin with, although "Terror of the Vervoids" was re-assigned to Elizabeth Parker shortly afterwards. However, fellow Radiophonic Workshop composer Jonathan Gibbs left early in 1986 and was not replaced until the following year, leaving the other composers backlogged and with no-one free to do the incidental music for "Mindwarp". It was suggested that Dick Mills could provide both the music and sound effects, but John Nathan-Turner rejected this idea and instead hired film composer Richard Hartley to create the incidental music for this segment. It would be the only time that Richard Hartley worked on the show. The original recordings of Richard Hartley’s score no longer exist in the BBC archives with the result that there was no isolated score included on the DVD release of this story.
The Time Lords take The Doctor out of time during this story. It is also revealed that the Time Lords have the ability to remotely control a TARDIS, and can put The Doctor into a trance. This was not possible during the 1969 Second Doctor story "The War Games" - suggesting that changes were made to The Doctor’s TARDIS during one of the number of visits it has since made to Gallifrey.
Kiv, leader of the Mentors, is addressed as ‘Magnificence’. Some less developed Mentors have a primordial sting, with highly toxic venom, in their tail.
Originally, the Mentors’ dialogue was to be dubbed, as it would have been in their native language, but this was later dropped.
It is not clear whether the Mentor’s planetary state is the same as the Amorb Corporation that Sil represented in "Vengance on Varos".
It is revealed that the Thoros Betan seas include: ‘The Sea of Turmoil’, ‘The Sea of Despair and Longing’, and ‘The Sea of Sorrows’. There is also an island called ‘Brak’.
Thoros Alpha is the twin planet of Thoros Beta and is home to a humanoid race called Alphans who are enslaved by the Mentors. It appears as a large, white body, clearly visible during the Betan day and has a large, white ring belt.
The Alphans outwardly resemble Native Americans but little of their actual culture is seen. They serve on Thoros Beta either as slaves or indentured labourers. An underground resistance however, exists led by Tuza.
The Raak is a genetically engineered amphibious creature. It is implied to be a genetically augmented native of the seas of Thoros Beta created as a by product of Crozier’s experimentation. It is not known whether ‘Raak’ is the name of the species, from which this individual originated, or the given name applied to the actual creature.
Whilst investigating Crozier’s lab, The Doctor picks up and inspects a specimen jar that seemingly contains an embryo Xenomorph (aka a chestburster) from the Alien films.
This second story of Season Twenty Three is sometimes considered to be one of the show’s most violent stories.
The video evidence shown at this story’s end leads directly into beginning of "The Mysterious Planet", the first part of The Trial of a Time Lord, taking place immediately prior to the action in the courtroom.
At the end of this story it is revealed that the Time Lords use Yrcanos as an assassin (to kill Crozier, his assistants, Kiv, Sil and to destroy the equipment, but not actually to kill the, still unharmed, Peri) because Crozier's discovery would affect natural evolution throughout the universe. (Not to mention giving everybody Time Lord length life spans). They do this by holding him in a time bubble so he is frozen until his targets are in the ideal place for him to shoot them without risk.
It has never been revealed how much of this story was fabricated. The Doctor however, largely confirms the authenticity of events presented (albeit with clever use of editing and camera angles on The Valeyard’s part to make him look culpable for the death of the Raak, for example) up to the end of Part Five. He does however, suffer total amnesia after that point due to the effect of Crozier's machine, rather than being taken out of time.
This story contains a number of errors. Namely: The TARDIS is missing its information notice on location; The third Mentor appears to be watching The A-Team on the television!
This story marked the end of Nicola Bryant’s time on the show. At first she was pleased that Peri would receive such a strong send-off with her death in the final episode of this story. However, it has been revealed that she was disappointed to learn that John Nathan-Turner had elected to reverse this decision and reveal in the season’s final episode, in the final part of "The Ultimate Foe", that Peri had not been killed after all.
Nicola Bryant has continued her career mostly on the stage. Her television appearance include the children programme The Biz! and Blackadder's Christmas Carol. Nicola Bryant reprised her role as Peri in 1993 for the Thirtieth-Anniversary Children In Need special "Dimensions in Time" and has also appeared in a number of the Big Finish Productions Doctor Who audio stories.
The Doctor meets Peri again in two spin off stories. She features in Virgin Books’ The New Adventures novel "Bad Therapy", written by Matt Jones, in which she harbours significant resentment of The Doctor’s abandonment of her. A post "Mindwarp" hallucination of Peri then appears in the Big Finish Productions audio story "Her Final Flight".
This was Philip Martin’s last televised Doctor Who story. Philip Martin became a senior radio drama producer for the BBC but continued to write for television, including the science-fiction series Star Cops. He also novelised his unmade "Mission to Magnus" for Target Books in July 1990.
A novelisation of this story, written by Philip Martin, was published by Target Books in June 1989 and was the final part of The Trial of a Time Lord season to be adapted. Philip Martin’s novelisation adds a joke ending which contradicts Peri’s fate that is suggested at the end of "The Ultimate Foe". The novelisations’ epilogue recounts Peri’s return to Earth with Yrcanos as a boxer.
The first use, in Doctor Who, of the HARRY digital image manipulation process.