A tribute to Lynda Bellingham, Doctor Who's Inquisitor.

Christopher Morley pays tribute to the late Lynda Bellingham.

It's fair to say that the mid- Eighties was a difficult time for Doctor Who- the sword of Damocles, or more accurately the BBC, hanging over its head. It was against that backdrop that Trial Of A Time Lord came to be. A last stand for Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor prior to his dismissal ( he remains the only Doctor to have been sacked from the role) accompanied by a new theme tune arrangement from Dominic Glynn, the story arc comprising The Mysterious Planet, Mindwarp, Terror Of The Vervoids & The Ultimate Foe seeing the Doctor face a very odd court summons.

For one thing, the prosecutor is the Valeyard, as played by Michael Jayston- a physical manifestation of the dark side of the colourfully-coated Time Lord's nature! And all the ' evidence' presented over the course of the four narratives that make up the trial is fabricated, as the result of his tampering with the Matrix. In exchange for his dirty deeds he stands to gain the Doctor's remaining regenerations...murky business indeed. You know something's wrong when the Master wants to help...

...Even if it is only so he can have the pleasure of getting rid of the Doctor himself, viewing the Valeyard as something of a rival! And presiding over proceedings in this massive show trial was the late Lynda Bellingham as Inquisitor Darkel....

All a very long winded way of saying she was the judge.

She'd later appear alongside Baker & Jayston in Trial Of The Valeyard, a neat reversal in which the Doctor is now counsel for the defence of his darkest self!

He wants answers as to the origins of the evil one, which he won't get if the Valeyard is executed for a crime so heinous hardly anyone but the Inquisitor knows what it is...

Darkel also appears in several of the Gallifrey audio stories- namely Weapon Of Choice, The Inquiry, Spirit, Pandora, Insurgency, Imperiatrix, Fractures, Warfare, Appropriation & Mindbomb. But what of Bellingham's pre/post—Who career?

Most probably know her as the Oxo Mum, though she had appeared in ITV's General Hospital & All Creatures Great & Small to great acclaim pre-gravy advertising!

Post- Trial Of A Time Lord she went on to play Empress Alexandra in The Romanovs- An Imperial Family which told the story of the ultimately doomed Tsar Nicholas II & his dynasty. You might have also seen her as Pauline Farnell in At Home With The Braithwates alongside a certain Peter Davison too! The Bill saw her appearing as the villainous Irene Radford...

All a far cry from her earlier film career. She'd appeared in Confessions Of A Driving Instructor ( 1976), Sweeney! ( 1977), Stand Up, Virgin Soldiers & Riding High ( 1981), alongside the stuntman Eddie Kidd.

2007 saw her joining the panel on Loose Women. Lynda's dancing shoes were well & truly on for the 2009 series of Strictly Come Dancing, too, though she & her partner Darren Bennett were voted off in the fourth week after a tango to Under Pressure, cha-cha-cha set to Elton John & Kiki Dee's Don't Go Breaking My Heart, Paso Doble to Cliff Richard's Devil Woman & foxtrot to the strains of Neil Sedaka's Calendar Girl were not quite enough to save her from the chop.

She released an autobiography just weeks before her death on October 19- There's Something I'm Dying To Tell You. She had been made an OBE at the start of this year for voluntary service to charitable causes, and died having made the decision to stop her chemotherapy treatment for colorectal cancer- sadly she didn't get her wish to spend one last Christmas with her family. She was at least in the arms of her third husband Michael Pattemore ( previous unions with Greg Smith & Nunzio Peluso ending in divorce, though her second marriage gave her sons, Michael & Robbie).

Pattemore said of his wife that:
'She started her career as an actress and never thought of herself as a celebrity. She's always been an actress.
I can tell you now that the words on her gravestone will be "The curtain went up on May 31 1948, and the final curtain went down on October 19 2014".'
What better epitaph than that? We at Warped Factor send our condolences............
Warped Factor
Daily features, news and reviews from the world of geek!