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The Mark of the Rani

Production Code: 6X

First Transmitted

1 - 02/02/1985 17:20

2 - 09/02/1985 17:20

Plot

The TARDIS arrives in Killingworth in 19th Century England, where the Master is plotting to kill some of the key figures of the industrial revolution. Also present is the Rani, a Time Lord biochemist who was cast out from Gallifrey and is now dictator of the planet Miasimia Goria.

The Rani has altered the metabolism of Miasimia Goria's populace to heighten their awareness, but in the process has inadvertently lowered their ability to sleep. In order to correct this she has been drawing a fluid from the brains of humans at various points in Earth's history, unconcerned that this leaves them aggressive and unable to sleep themselves.

Now she is adding to the unrest caused in England by the Luddites. She has also planted some land mines that turn people into trees.

The Doctor sabotages the Rani's TARDIS and she and the Master are sent spinning into the vortex at the mercy of a rapidly growing tyrannosaurus rex embryo - a specimen collected on one of her earlier visits to Earth.

Episode Endings

The Doctor, strapped to a trolley, is placed on top of a mine cart by a group of rowdy miners and pushed down a slope. The cart rattles along its rails, fast approaching the gaping entrance to the mine shaft.

The TARDIS dematerialises, leaving Lord Ravensworth and George Stephenson puzzled as to where the Doctor and Peri have gone. Lord Ravensworth comments: 'You know, I always said he was a strange sort of fellow'.

Roots

When the Boat Comes In (trouble at t'pit).

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

A misquote of Hamlet's 'more things in heaven and Earth' speech.

A quote from Thomas T Campbell ('silence deep as death').

Dialogue Triumphs

The Master : [Speaking of the Doctor] "He wears yellow trousers and a vulgarly coloured coat, but tread carefully - he's treacherous."

The Rani : [Speaking of the Master] "He'd get dizzy if he tried to walk in a straight line!"

The Doctor : [What Peri and the Doctor do in the TARDIS] "Argue, mainly."

Dialogue Disasters

The Doctor : "Fortuitous would be a more apposite epithet!"

Peri : "Or, as we humans say, 'Lucky would be a better word.'"

Master : "Finito TARDIS, how's that for style?" [Florid, we think.]

Peri : "You suspect another motive?"

The Doctor : "The tree won't hurt you!"

Double Entendre

The Doctor : "Hoist up your skirts, Peri, off we go!"

The Master : [To the Rani] "You don't get much, do you?"

Continuity

Peri shows some botanical knowledge. The Doctor is 'expressly forbidden' to change the course of history.

The Master's Tissue Compression Eliminator now makes people vanish totally [this was what he was working on prior to Planet of Fire]. The Rani (and the Master) were exiled from Gallifrey, the Rani ruling Miasimia Goria, where she controls a race of aliens. She's extracted brain fluid from people from the Trojan war, the Dark Ages and the American war of Independence.

[Male Time Lords appear to have vulnerable reproductive organs.] The Rani's giant mice ate the Lord President's cat and part of him (see The Deadly Assassin).

QV

The TARDIS Lock

Location

Killingworth, near Newcastle upon Tyne, the 1820s, about 30 years too late for Luddites.

Links

Trivia

No explanation is given for the Master's escape from his apparent death at the end of the previous season's Planet of Fire.

Popular actor Terence Alexander, best known for his role as Charlie Hungerford in the BBC's Bergerac, plays Lord Ravensworth.

Myth

John Nathan-Turner cast Kate O'Mara as the Rani because of her starring role in the popular American soap opera Dynasty. (O'Mara had yet to begin work on Dynasty when she was cast as the Rani. She was however well known for her appearances in a number of UK soap operas, including for the BBC The Brothers - opposite Colin Baker - and Triangle.)

Technobabble

The Stattenheim remote control is a great achievement of the Rani's, oddly.

Goofs

The tree!

The two trees that hold the Doctor up on the pole!

The Doctor's gurning above the pit while Peri throws small lumps of coal at the Luddites!

Why don't they run out of the Volcano (a Turner painting?!) trap room?

No Luddites ever attacked pit machinery, which didn't threaten their livelihoods.

Lord Ravensworth's amateur botany is the source of the drugs required - is there no local medic?

Three Time Lords turn up in the same place for entirely different reasons.

Kew Gardens was not open in the 1820s.

Edison was not born until 1847 (well after the Luddite riots).

Fashion Victim

Peri's horrid yellow party frock.

Cast & Crew

Cast

The Doctor - Colin Baker

Peri - Nicola Bryant

Drayman - Martyn Whitby

Edwin Green - Hus Levent

George Stephenson - Gawn Grainger

Guard - Richard Steele

Jack Ward - Peter Childs

Lord Ravensworth - Terence Alexander

Luke Ward - Gary Cady

Older Woman - Cordelia Ditton

Sam Rudge - Kevin White

The Master - Anthony Ainley

The Rani - Kate O'Mara

Tim Bass - William Ilkley

Young Woman - Sarah James

Crew

Director - Sarah Hellings

Assistant Floor Manager - Penny Williams

Costumes - Dinah Collin

Designer - Paul Trerise

Film Cameraman - Kevin Rowley

Film Editor - Ray Wingrove

Incidental Music - Jonathan Gibbs

Make-Up - Catherine Davies

Producer - John Nathan-Turner

Production Assistant - Carolyn Mawdsley

Production Associate - Sue Anstruther

Script Editor - Eric Saward

Special Sounds - Dick Mills

Studio Lighting - Don Babbage

Studio Sound - Keith Bowden

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Peter Howell

Visual Effects - David Barton

Writer - Pip Baker

Writer - Jane Baker

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

A script with a simple plot, a Doctorish Doctor, and whimsy rather than sadism, quite a novelty in this season. The dialogue's overblown, but the concept of the Rani mocking the ridiculous Master/Doctor rivalry is wonderful.

The Doctor's inspection of the inside of the Rani's TARDIS is one of the few great scenes of this era. Both the direction and the music are superb, though the interiors look oddly artificial. Altogether rather more impressive than its reputation.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

Stories with a historical setting are something of a rarity in seventies and eighties Doctor Who, and The Mark of the Rani makes a very pleasant departure from the norm. In fact, with its inclusion of steam engine pioneer George Stevenson, it is the first story to feature a bona-fide historical figure since season three's The Gunfighters. The setting is very well realised, too, with some excellent location filming, and makes a nice contrast to the futuristic locales in which the other sixth Doctor stories take place.

'The undoubted star of the story was the 19th Century mining village at Blists Hill Open Air Museum in Ironbridge,' suggested Tim Westmacott in Peladon Issue Five, dated autumn 1988. 'The sunlight seemed to induce a magic from the stone of the buildings and the all-embracing foliage that cast an air of tranquillity over everything. The beautifully simple but effective incidental music combined with the images to create a feeling of bygone times when life was hard, but simpler, with a calmness which drew strength and security from the absence of change; the calm before the storm of the encroaching industrial revolution which the Luddites were keen to preserve.'

The plot is a relatively leisurely and straightforward one, which also makes a refreshing change for this period of the series' history, although Westmacott felt that there were a number of elements within it that ought to have been developed further:

'The Rani's mission to collect brain fluid which promoted sleep would have carried more credibility if we had been given a glance of the planet she ruled... in the state of chaos which prompted the trip... The other main disappointment was that after the mention of the forthcoming historic meeting of scientists such as Faraday, Telford, Brunel etc we didn't see a single one of them apart from George Stephenson. If they had appeared we could have seen in progress the Master's plan to change the course of history to his own purpose. This would have lent credence to what, [as in] The King's Demons, looked like a case of choosing the time and place for a story first and working out a reason for the presence of the Master as an afterthought.'

The most entertaining aspect of the story is the amusing interplay between the three outcast Time Lords - the Doctor, the Master and the Rani - who seem at times almost to forget the momentous events going on around them as they indulge in their own private feud. Simon Ferns, writing in MLG Megazine No. 12, dated March/April 1985, appreciated this, although he found certain aspects of it rather puzzling: 'Kate O'Mara was suitably impressive as the Rani, who overshadowed Ainley's Master... The [use of the] Master's [tissue compression eliminator] was strange: it killed both [a] dog and [a] guard but left no shrunken bodies behind. Continuity was left behind, [though]. How could the Master believe the Doctor's TARDIS could be destroyed by pushing it down a mine shaft?'

The story's production values are excellent, and there are some notably good sets on display. 'The control room of the Rani's TARDIS really made me gasp,' confessed Westmacott. 'The predominant slate grey lit subtly by a glowing pink suggested perfectly the character of its owner, which was confirmed and consolidated by the silver studded black console at its heart... I applaud the effort put into its design and construction.'

One aspect of the story much derided by reviewers is the idea of people being transformed into trees by the Rani's land mines. 'Those trees... were very amusing,' asserted Ferns. 'Maybe this was a bright idea from the socially conscious [writers Pip and Jane Baker], who [during the course of the story warned] us against the destruction of the hedgerows, [about] not being a vegetarian and [about] the dangers of smoking cigarettes. Even the Doctor's speech about scientists having no conscience [smacked] of this feeling... nature versus man became [a recurring] theme within this story.'

Nicholas Setchfield, reviewing the story for Shada 19, dated November 1985, was left with a feeling of dissatisfaction: 'In all... The Mark of the Rani failed. It failed not in the sense that it was poorly produced - it wasn't, and its gloss made it shine brighter than many of its contemporaries, each episode nothing if not pleasant to watch. But it was hollow, vacuous, stagnant... impressions not helped in the least by the annoyingly open-ended conclusion - hardly the most accurate of words - concerning the Rani and the Master... A beginning was there, but where were the middle and the end? Nothing progressed, nothing was satisfactorily resolved. The Doctor simply tinkered with the Rani's control console and [the two renegades were] zapped by mistake into the farthest reaches of the universe... A pretty runaround in history it might have been - in all honesty, it really wasn't much else.'

< Vengeance on VarosSixth DoctorThe Two Doctors >

This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.



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