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Episode Guide
The Mark of the Rani
Production Code: 6X
Season 22, Story Number 140
Written by Pip Baker, Jane Baker
Directed by Sarah Hellings

Each episode is identified with date of transmission, duration, ratings in millions, and (for 1963-1974 only) archive status.

Part One
02 February 1985 | 45'01" | 6.3
Part Two
09 February 1985 | 44'32" | 7.3
Archive Status: Both episodes exist as PAL 1” colour videotape, always held by the BBC’s Film and Videotape Library; also held in four 25-minute format episodes by BBC Enterprises.
Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown), Anthony Ainley (The Master), Kate O'Mara (The Rani), Terence Alexander (Lord Ravensworth), Gary Cady (Luke Ward), Peter Childs (Jack Ward), Gawn Grainger (George Stephenson), Richard Steele (Guard), William Ilkley (Tim Bass), Hus Levent (Edwin Green), Kevin White (Sam Rudge), Martin Whitby (Drayman), Sarah James (Young Woman), Cordelia Ditton (Older Woman)
Deflected off course, the TARDIS materialises in the north of England at the dawn of the industrial revolution, a critical period in Earth's history. The introduction of machinery has met with much opposition from working people, some of whom have begun attacking and destroying it; and in the rural backwater where the Doctor and Peri have arrived, these Luddites are more violent and active than anywhere else in the country.

The Doctor is not the only alien visitor here, nor is he the only Time Lord. The Master (Anthony Ainley) is plotting to use Earth as a base for his operations, and it is he who is responsible for diverting the TARDIS here. There is also another Time Lord at work in the village. This is the Rani (Kate O'Mara), an exile from Gallifrey and a brilliant biochemist.

Cast out from Gallifrey because of her dangerous and callous experiments, having caused mice to be turned into monsters which ate the President's pet cat and bit the President himself, the Rani has now become dictator of a planet called Miasimia Goria. There, she has altered the metabolism of the populace, heightening their awareness but also, as an unfortunate side-effect, lowering their ability to sleep. In order to correct this defect, she has been extracting a chemical from the brains of humans, unconcerned by the fact that this leaves the humans aggressive and unable to sleep themselves. She has been conducting this operation at various points throughout Earth's history, some of her previous visits having aggravated the Trojan Wars, the Dark Ages and the American War of Independence. Now she is adding to the unrest caused by the Luddites.

When the Rani discovers that both the Master and the Doctor have arrived, she is less than happy. She initially refuses the Master's pleas to help him in his continuing attempts to kill his adversary but is forced to change her mind when he steals a vial of precious brain fluid from her and uses it for blackmail.

Lord Ravensworth (Terence Alexander), the owner of the mine in the village, has invited a number of the finest engineering geniuses – including Humphrey Davey, Thomas Telford, Michael Faraday, Mark Brunell and George Stephenson – to a meeting where they are to view Stephenson's latest steam engine. The Master realises that, with the aid of some maggots which the Rani has chemically impregnated with an obedience-inducing drug, he can control these key figures in Earth's history and thereby change the future, ensuring that the Industrial Revolution never happens. But first he has to deal with the Doctor.

The TARDIS is pushed down a mineshaft by a group of aggressive miners directed by the Master, and the Doctor nearly goes the same way. He is rescued by George Stephenson (Gawn Grainger), who is preparing for his meeting. Using one of the Rani's maggots, the Master takes over Stephenson's apprentice, Luke (Gary Cady), and uses him to spy on the Doctor and Stephenson. The Doctor meanwhile investigates the bath house which is being used by the Rani as a base and, after escaping from a dichlorodiethyl sulphide – mustard gas – volcano trap, enters her TARDIS.

Operating her ship using a Stattenheim remote control, the Rani brings it into a mine shaft where she and the Master are waiting. Unaware that the Doctor is hiding on board and can overhear them, they plot to set a trap for Stephenson in Redfern Dell. When they have gone, the Doctor sabotages her TARDIS's navigational system and velocity regulator.

Peri has gone to the Dell looking for the herb valerian with which to brew a sleeping draft for the afflicted miners. The Doctor arrives just in time to prevent her from suffering the same fate as Luke, who has stumbled on to one of the Rani's chemical land-mines and been converted into a tree. The Doctor forces the Rani to lead Peri out of danger. However, once Peri has left to escort the Rani and the Master as prisoners back to the Rani's TARDIS, the Doctor is again captured by the Luddite miners. He is tied hand and foot to a pole, but manages to escape when the two miners who are carrying it simultaneously step on to landmines and become trees.

Following Peri to the mine, the Doctor finds that her prisoners have outwitted her and escaped. The Master fires his tissue compression eliminator at the Doctor but hits a support beam instead, causing the mine roof to collapse. The Doctor and Peri head for the exit while the Rani and the Master leave in the Rani's TARDIS.

Affected by the Doctor's sabotage, the Rani's ship crashes out of control through the vortex. The resultant time spillage causes a tyrannosaurus rex embryo, collected by the Rani on an earlier visit to Earth, to crash to the floor and begin to grow. The Master and the Rani are trapped against the TARDIS walls by G-force and can only look on in horror.

Stephenson arranges for a group of forty men to get the Doctor's TARDIS out of the pit, and the Doctor and Peri leave after giving Ravensworth the vial of brain fluid which the Doctor had retrieved from the Master.

Synopsis from Doctor Who: The Sixth Doctor Handbook by David J. Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker, reprinted with permission; further reproduction is not permitted.

Production Team
Penny Williams (Assistant Floor Manager), Dinah Collin (Costumes), Paul Trerise (Designer), Kevin Rowley (Film Cameraman), Ray Wingrove (Film Editor), Jonathan Gibbs (Incidental Music), Catherine Davies (Make-Up), John Nathan-Turner (Producer), Carolyn Mawdsley (Production Assistant), Sue Anstruther (Production Associate), Eric Saward (Script Editor), Dick Mills (Special Sounds), Don Babbage (Studio Lighting), Keith Bowden (Studio Sound), Peter Howell (Theme Arrangement), Ron Grainer (Title Music), David Barton (Visual Effects)
Story Notes
This story introduced the Rani, a villainous female Time Lord (her name means "Queen" in Hindi), as played by Kate O'Mara (who would later feature in such series as Brothers and the USA's Dynasty.) The working titles for the story were "Too Clever By Far" and "Enter the Rani". This is the first story penned by husband-and-wife team Pip & Jane Baker. A historical adventure, it was filmed in and around the Ironbridge Gorge area and other English historical relics from the Industrial Revolution. The Master (Anthony Ainley) also returned in this story, with no explanation given as to his escape from the end of "Planet of Fire". The original incidental composer, John Lewis, died during its production; his estate was paid but none of his work was used. There is a reference to the Daleks at the onset, as the Doctor mentions the time distortion could be their handiwork. Nicola Bryant was injured during the production of this story. Real maggots were used except when the actors had to eat them, in which they were substituted with marzipan. The Rani later returned for her second appearance in "Time and the Rani" to open season 24; her character was later named Ushas (her true Gallifreyan name) by author Gary Russell in the novel "Divided Loyalties". O'Mara returned to reprise the role again in the "Dimensions in Time" special, and later for BBV's audio adventure "The Rani Reaps the Whirlwind."
For more in-depth information about the contents of this story, a complete episode-by-episode detailed breakdown can be found at the Doctor Who Reference Guide.
Additional, more detailed information about the production of this story can be found at Shannon Patrick Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel).
DVD release
Due for release in the UK in September 2006, Australia/New Zealand in October 2006, and US/Canada in November 2006. Will include commentaries by Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Kate O'Mara (the Doctor Who Restoration Team notes that director Sarah Hellings agreed to do the commentary but sadly couldn't make it due to scheduling reasons); "Lords and Luddites," an interview documentary featuring comments by Baker, Bryant, O'Mara, actor Gary Cady, script editor Eric Saward, writers Pip and Jane Baker and others; "Now and Then," a special look at the Blists Hill Victorian Museum where the episode was filmed; a historical segment from "Blue Peter" on the Ironbridge Gorge; a clip of Baker and Bryant on "Saturday Superstore"; plus deleted and extended scenes, a photo gallery, isolated music score as well as alternate music score for part one, and PDF copies of the 1985 Doctor Who Annual as well as clips from Radio Times.
Video release
Released as "The Mark of the Rani" in the UK [July 1995] and Australia/New Zealand [October 1995] (BBC catalog #5603), US/Canada [February 1997] (WHV catalog #E1350); episodic format, cover illustration by Colin Howard.
In Print
Novelised as "Doctor Who - The Mark of the Rani" by Pip & Jane Baker (Target #107), first released in 1986 with cover art by Andrew Skilleter.
For more details on the various novelizations of this story, with additional background material, artwork and details of both UK and foreign releases, visit On Target.
Screencap Descriptions
Descriptions of each story screen capture above right, top to bottom:
  • The Rani (Kate OMara), disguised as a washer woman in 19th century England
  • an overview of the town
  • the Doctor and Peri (Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant) meet George Stevenson (Gawn Grainger)
  • the Master (Anthony Ainley) works with unlikely ally the Rani in her TARDIS
  • the Doctor is caught between a rock and a hard place
  • a dinosaur embryo grows on the floor of the Ranis TARDIS as it careens into the future