Not Guilty was a parodical short story published in DWM 542, written in the style of a television script. Thirty-three years after the infamous story arc's broadcast, it explored the ill reputation of The Trial of a Time Lord through the fictional framework of the story itself, depicted as a sentient entity, being on trial with none other than the Valeyard as prosecutor.
By order of Doctor Who Magazine, The Trial of a Time Lord is on trial. The charge? "Not being very popular". The sentient television story pleads "not guilty", but will it be able to make its case when the prosecutor is the Valeyard himself?
A massive 1980's house emanates a beam of light that pulls The Trial of a Time Lord inside, where it is faced with a jury of Doctor Who fans. As soon as it appears, all the fans duck behind their sofas, just in time for the appearance of a man clad in black leather — the Valeyard. After noting that the trial is held by order of Doctor Who Magazine, he states the charge: that the story is in fact not very popular. The Trial of a TIme Lord immediately pleads "not guilty"; the Valeyard maintains that its popularity is not a matter of plea but a statement of fact. The Inquisitor interrupts their row, explaining that the purpose of the trial is to examine whether this charge is justified. The Inquisitor's attempt to appoint a DWM Writer to represent the Story is overruled by The Trial of a Time Lord, which decides to defend itself in its own voice. This upsets the DWM Writer, although she decides to stay anyway to take notes and thus be able to print the transcript of the trial in Doctor Who Magazine.
The Valeyard barely has time to begin a speech when he is interrupted by the irate The Trial of a Time Lord, who insists that the Valeyard (and, indeed, its entire audience) have had over three decades to pore over its alleged flaws, and that now is finally time for the defence. Indeed, it launches into a passionate defence of the stories' various premises, from the concept of involving the Sixth Doctor in a trial to the way that Doctor himself is written and played, noting that his relationship with Peri has gotten less "tempestuous" and his friendship with Mel is outright sweet.
The Valeyard argues this point, noting that the Doctor attempts to murder Peri in Part Five and that if that doesn't count as tempestuous, he'd like to see what does. However, he is overruled by the Inquisitor, who explains that this attempted murder was either a Matrix fabrication, the Doctor acting because he was being watched, or something else altogether — but, at any rate, not anything that can be used to ascertain the true nature of his feelings towards Peri. The Trial of a Time Lord concurs and adds that no story is completely perfect: even City of Death is "only 99.99999 percent perfect", to shocked gasps from the jurors.
It continues by stating that although the fact that part of itself was written by Robert Holmes might have been used by it as an argument of "poor health", it instead chooses to celebrate Holmes's contribution to its nature, which, despite the difficult circumstances under which the "master craftsman" was working, still contains excellent dialogue. It continues in this vein for some time until the Valeyard interrupts it, holding it to accounts for the "nightmarish treatment" of Peri in the Story's plot. The Story is initially reluctant to answer but eventually gives in and argues that Peri's death, while upsetting, is intentionally so, and as such, one of the great "scary moments" of Doctor Who.
Nearly beaten, the Valeyard weakly retorts that The Trial of a Time Lord has yet to answer the most serious accusation of all: carrot juice. The Story instead cackles that the Valeyard has fallen right in its trap, as carrot juice is in fact one of its greatest strengths, encouraging children to stay healthy ("lay aside the Sixth Doctor Wotsit packs"). This is the first the DWM Writer hears of these "Wotsit packs", and she hurries out of the courtroom to go buy some.
A confused Inquisitor can only answer "fair enough" to these surprising developments, and asks the jury to retire to consider their verdict.
to be added
Story notes Edit
- An egregiously fourth-wall-breaking effort, Not Guilty parodies the structure of the Trial sequences of Season 23 itself, lifting the characters of the Valeyard and the Inquisitor from it but replacing the Sixth Doctor with The Trial of a Time Lord itself. The text of the story does not clarify how a television story can have a physical existence and be dragged into a courtroom; in the full-page "cover illustration" that precedes the story, however, it is depicted as an old-fashioned television set with the title screen of The Trial of a Time Lord flickering on it.
- As the story doubled as an article on the subject of The Trial of a Time Lord’s reputation, the text of the fictional story is surrounded by "boxes" of fully non-narrative information about the TV story and later uses of the Valeyard.
- The clear implication is that the unnamed "DWM Writer" in the story is none other than Jacqueline Rayner herself, and that the transcript she promised to print in Doctor Who Magazine is the very story the readers are peering over. This explains why the story ends before a sentence is passed, as that is when the Writer leaves the room to go buy some Wotsits.