The Mark of the Rani

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PRODUCTION INFO

Name

The Mark of the Rani
Serial Code

6X

First Transmitted

2 February 1985

Final Ratings

6.30m

DVD RELEASE

DVD

VHS RELEASE

VHS

GALLERY

The Mark Of The Rani
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CAST

Regular Cast

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri)

Guest Cast

Anthony Ainley (The Master), Kate O’Mara (The Rani), Terence Alexander (Lord Ravensworth), Peter Childs (Jack Ward), Gary Cady (Luke Ward), Richard Steele (Guard), William Ilkley (Tim Bass), Hus Levent (Edwin Green) [1], Kevin White (Sam Rudge) [1], Martyn Whitby (Drayman) [1], Sarah James (Young Woman) [1], Cordelia Ditton (Older Woman) [1], Gawn Grainger (George Stephenson) [2].

CREW

Written by Pip and Jane Baker
Directed by Sarah Hellings
Produced by John Nathan Turner

RATINGS

1 “Part One” 45:02 2 February 1985 6.3m
2 “Part Two” 44: 32 9 February 1985 7.3m

SYPNOSIS

The Mark of the Rani sees The Doctor pitted against not one, but two evil Time Lords – his old enemy The Master (played with great relish by Anthony Ainley) and the glamorous yet deadly Rani (Kate O’Mara). When The Doctor and Peri arrive in North East England in the early 19th Century, they discover groups of violent men rampaging around the countryside, smashing up machinery. What’s causing this strange behaviour? And does it have anything to do with the presence of famous inventor George Stephenson?

PLOT

PART 1

Something is amiss in the mining village of Killingworth in early 19th century England. Miners are being gassed in the bathhouse and turned into thugs and vandals, attacking men and smashing up machinery, seen as Luddites by other locals. The Sixth Doctor and Peri Brown witness this when they arrive in Killingworth looking for the cause of some sort of time distortion. They also notice one of the rampaging miners has a strange red mark on his neck. With his usual audacity, The Doctor foists himself upon the local landowner, Lord Ravensworth, who is concerned at the ferocity of the attacks, with the most passive of men suddenly turning violent and unpredictable.

The answer lies in the local bathhouse. The Master has turned up at this key point in human history. He forces his way into the presence of the old woman who runs the bathhouse, in reality, another Time Lord, the First Rani. She is a gifted chemist and is using the set-up of the bathhouse to anaesthetise the miners and distil from them the neuro-chemicals that enable sleep. This is what causes the red mark on the victims. These chemicals are synthesised for use back on Miasimia Goria, a planet she rules and which the Master has visited, where her other experiments have left the inhabitants without the ability to rest and are now rebelling. He persuades her they need to deal with the Doctor together. He also steals some of the precious brain fluid she has collected to ensure her collaboration. It is a rocky partnership, full of half-truths and deceptions. The Master goes to deal with the Doctor, egging on local miners to attack his enemy and persuading some to throw The Doctor’s TARDIS down a mine shaft.

The Doctor has meanwhile dressed as a miner and entered the bathhouse. He soon deduces The Rani’s schemes. She traps him but he challenges her ethics. She reveals she has been coming to Earth for centuries to harvest her precious chemicals. The Master convinces the Rani to let him deal with the Doctor. He has the TARDIS pushed down a mine shaft. The angry Luddites put The Doctor in a cart to ensure that he follows it.

PART 2

The Doctor is saved by inventor George Stephenson. He and Peri return to Lord Ravensworth’s, where Stephenson has planned a meeting of scientific and engineering geniuses in the village. The Doctor is worried about the wisdom of such a meeting in the current circumstances, but The Master is so desperate to see the event take place, he uses mind control of Stephenson’s young aide, Luke Ward, telling him to kill anyone who tries to prevent it. The Master wants to use the finest brains of the Industrial Revolution to speed up Earth’s development and then use the planet as a power base. He strikes a deal with The Rani; she may return to Earth at any time to harvest more brain fluid if she helps him achieve this.

While the villains are away, The Doctor returns to the bathhouse and dodges booby traps to enter The Rani’s TARDIS. Her control room holds jars of preserved dinosaur embryos. She summons her ship to the old mine workings with a remote control device, with the Doctor still inside. He hides while his adversaries talk. The Rani has also set land mines in nearby Redfern Dell. When the coast is clear, The Doctor slips away to report back to Ravensworth, Stephenson and Luke, who is behaving strangely.

Peri is making herself useful by using her botanical knowledge to make a sleeping-draught for the afflicted miners. Her quest for herbs leads her to Redfern Dell. The Doctor surprises The Master and the Rani, who are lurking at the edge of the dell. Soon after he does, he sees Luke step on a mine and get turned into a tree. The Doctor takes the other two Time Lords prisoner with The Master’s own Tissue Compression Eliminator. Peri takes charge of them but the Rani’s deviousness outstrips The Master’s and she is the one who enables them to escape. The Rani and the Master flee in her TARDIS, but The Doctor also has a trick or two:
he has sabotaged the navigational system. The ship is out of control. In the destabilised condition, one of the jars holding a Tyrannosaurus Rex embryo falls on the floor and the creature, affected by the time spillage, starts to grow.

The Doctor and Peri make a swap with Ravensworth, who has retrieved the TARDIS. He gets the phial of brain fluid, which he is told to give to the affected miners. Before the eyes of an astonished scientist and his financier, the TARDIS departs…

NOTES

  • The music score for this story was provided by composer Jonathan Gibbs. John Lewis was originally hired to compose the score, but a sudden illness — which ultimately resulted in his death — prevented him from finishing the work and forced the production team to give the assignment to Gibbs just after Lewis had scored the first episode. Lewis’ score for the first episode was included on the DVD release.
  • The following was credited in both episodes: “The BBC wish to acknowledge the cooperation of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum.”
  • This was the last story of the original series of Doctor Who to be directed by a woman. The next such occasion was the 2007 Tenth Doctor episode Blink (directed by Hettie MacDonald).
  • The Mark of the Rani was shown in 4-25 minute episodes in the USA, Australia and New Zealand. The Rani was conceived as a new, ongoing villain, however the character only appeared once more in the series, two years later in Time and the Rani.
  • Kate O’Mara later reprised the role for the charity special, Dimensions in Time (which is considered non-canonical) and the spin-off audio production The Rani Reaps the Whirlwind for BBV and for Big Finish. The possibility of the Rani returning to the revival series has been a source of fan speculation since 2005, with virtually every female character from Rose Tyler to Donna Noble to Lucy Saxon being considered possible Ranis-in-disguise.
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