The Trial of the Valeyard (2013)

This year’s subscriber special got me hooked just on the title. It’s the return of the Valeyard who appeared in the 23rdseries ‘The Trial of a Timelord’. The subscribers release is a chance for Big Finish to do something different. In recent years we have had the return of the Zarbi and Krotons but perhaps the most interesting ones have been the Four Doctor and Five Doctors. This story reunites Colin Baker with Michael Jayston and Lynda Bellingham. It’s been 27 years since that first story and many will agree that it wasn’t the strongest story that it could have been so it was nice that these three got a second chance because if anyone was going to make it work then it would be Big Finish. It starts off with the Doctor landing and slowly realising where he was and gets a bit ahead of himself when he first meets the Inquisitor again, he thinks that he is on trial before realising that he isn’t on trial but furthermore that the Valeyard was the one on trial and he was being asked to defend him.

We get to learn a bit more about the Valeyard. It’s something that I suppose everyone has thought about at one time or another. We learn that he was born but his mother and father’s identity aren’t clear. There is a bit here about the number of regenerations and how they are supposed to be limited to 13. Basically the reason it was 12 regenerations was because after the symbiotic nuclei becomes unstable and it’s good that there is a scientific reason as to why. Morally the Valeyard deduces that it was limited to 13 lives so that no timelord would become immortal. It feels fitting that there is discussion about the extension of regeneration just a few weeks after ‘Day of the Doctor’ where the number of lives that the Doctor was discussed (and still is). What also good about this is that the Inquisitor casts doubt and by the end of the piece its clear as to why she’s doing this. I love how the Doctor is accused at one point of creating the Valeyard and it’s at this moment that it seems like the Doctor is back on trial. Its quite a good reason if I’m honest but only because it shows how corrupt and desperate the Timelords are. However there is a sting because if someone had opened the box that the Timelords wanted then it would have killed them all.

There was a question as to why the Valeyard was put on trial in the first place and it was simply because he wouldn’t give the Timelords a box which lets them regenerate more than they should. There did seem to be quite a lot of dodging the main purpose of the trial in the early stages of this story but after a while that went and we got to the meat of the story.

When the Doctor keeps mentioning Ravolox there is that high pitch sound and it’s a nice reminder of the last time that they met. Everytime the Doctor mentions it the comments get wiped and its fun that the Doctor is clearly doing it on purpose and is having fun seeing the Inquisitor get more ratty. I don’t know if any Whovians would get this joke if they hadn’t seen Trial of a Timelord but to be honest if they haven’t done their homework then its their own fault.

I’ll listen to anything with Michael Jayston in. Everytime he appears on TV I think that everyone in that show should worry cause the Valeyard is evil. I first saw him in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ where he plays Del Boy’s Father-in-law and would appear in the ITV soap ‘Emmerdale’. Jayston is brilliant in this and quite frankly he could read a receipt and make it sound fantastic. Lynda Bellingham is most famous recently for appearing on the ITV show ‘Loose Women’ and its good that she gets to do something constructive by reprising the role of the Inquisitor. There seems to be a slight difference between the 2013 Inquisitor and the 1986 Inquisitor and that difference is that the 2013 version seems somewhat less pompous that in 1986. Don’t get me wrong there is still a bit of pomposity to the character but it seems more suited to the story now.

I really enjoyed it and thought that they did something different and more importantly something interesting with the Valeyard and the Valeyard. I often wonder when Big Finish do these freebie whether I would pay for it if I had to and the simple answer is yes. This is a wonderful adventure which utilises the few good things about Trial of a Timelord and quite frankly Big Finish should use Michael Jayston more in future audios, perhaps even his own spin off????

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