Kate O'Mara - Doctor Who - The Mark of the Rani
Kate O’Mara – Doctor Who – Mark of the Rani

Mark of the Rani: Part 1

Broadcast on February 2nd, 1985 @ 5.20pm (6.3 million viewers)

Over the years, viewers have encountered a number of renegade Time Lords, the Meddling Monk, the War Chief, the Master, Morbius, Borusa and Omega to name but a few. However, there had been no one like the character introduced in this story, the Rani. The much missed Kate O’Mara was cast in the role of the Rani, her glamour and style would see her gain international attention when she appeared as the bitchy sister of Joan Collins’ character in the US drama ‘Dynasty’ the year after debuting as the villainous Time Lord. She had already worked with Colin Baker in ‘The Brothers’ and immediately resurrects their chemistry.

The Rani (Kate O'Mara) and The Doctor (Colin Baker) - The Mark of the Rani
The Rani (Kate O’Mara) and The Doctor (Colin Baker) – Mark of the Rani

Location filming was recorded at the Blists Hill Victorian Town, one of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums which record the birth of the Industrial Revolution and provides the perfect environment to tell the story set in a mining village. It would later be used again by the BBC for the ‘Victorian Pharmacy’ series which began in 2010. As a result, Blists Hill provides one of the best locations ever used for the programme, with an accuracy and an authenticity far beyond what was achievable in a studio.

Peculiar goings on are occurring in the town’s bathhouse, with miners being gassed and leaving the establishment full of aggression and vandalising machinery. It transpires that the Master is present in this time period but for once it is not he that is responsible, as the old lady running the bathhouse reveals herself as the culprit. The Rani is a far more interesting villain, a brilliant chemist, distilling a chemical only found in the human brain in order to allow aliens on a distant planet that she rules to rest. Her goals are therefore not built on global conquest, she is driven to complete the task at hand, with the Doctor and the Master proving irritants hampering her work, which up until this point has been perfectly coordinated with periods of humanity’s disarray, such as the Trojan War, the Dark Ages and the American War of Independence.

Memorable Moment

The Master (Anthony Ainley) - Doctor Who - The Mark of Rani
The Master (Anthony Ainley) – Doctor Who – Mark of Rani

The interactions between the three Time Lords are simply fantastic. Whilst the Master rants about his goals encompassing the whole human race, the Rani thoughtfully puts him down, calling him unbalanced and highlighting his obsession with destroying the Doctor. Another classic description of the Master’s “devious and over complicated” schemes lead to her concluding that “He’d get dizzy if he tried walking in a straight line”. Similarly, the banter she shares with the Doctor is fabulously entertaining, taunting him and being derogatory about his new regeneration, for example. The Doctor even states how the Master has always lacked style, an easy conclusion to reach when the Rani is in the same room. The Rani is, therefore, a superb new addition to the cavalcade of villainy in Doctor Who and a refreshing take on the renegade Time Lord.

Cast:

The Doctor  – Colin Baker
Peri Brown – Nicola Bryant
The Rani – Kate O’Mara
The Master – Anthony Ainley
Lord Ravensworth – Terence Alexander
Jack Ward – Peter Childs
Luke Ward – Gary Cady
Guard – Richard Steele
Tim Bass – William Ilkley
Edwin Green – Hus Levant
Sam Rudge – Kevin White
Drayman – Martyn Whitby
Young Woman – Sarah James
Older Woman – Cordelia Ditton

Crew:

Director Sarah Hellings
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Writer Jane Baker
Writer Pip Baker

Watch as The Master appeals for the Rani’s cooperation

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Also first aired On This Day…

  • Invasion of the Dinosaurs: Part 4
  • Kinda: Part 2
  • Mawdryn Undead: Part 2
  • Frontios: Part 3

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