OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 638
STORY NUMBER: 141
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 09 February 1985
WRITER: Pip & Jane Baker
DIRECTOR: Sarah Hellings
SCRIPT EDITOR: Eric Saward
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 7.3 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Mark of the Rani
The Doctor is saved by the arrival of George Stephenson. Stephenson sends his apprentice Luke to cancel the meeting but he is intercepted by the Master. The Master proposes taking control of the visiting geniuses to the Rani. The Doctor returns to the Rani's bath house and finds her Tardis, defeating her mustard gas spraying booby trap to gain entry. Her Tardis dematerialises under remote control with the doctor within and moves to the pit where the Master & Rani await. While he hides she fetches some equipment from her Tardis but when she leaves the Doctor engages in a little sabotage. Peri is taken to Ravensworth and they start to search for the Doctor. She finds the Doctor and they seek out Stephenson. The Rani plants landmines in the woods and sends a message for Stephenson luring the Doctor into the woods. Peri & Luke go to fetch herbs to make a sleeping draught for the infected miners. The Doctor corners the Master and Rani as Luke accidentally triggers a mine turning him into a tree. Peri is grabbed by Luke's tree to stop her treading on the landmines and the Doctor forces the Rani to rescue her from the minefield. The Doctor is cornered in the minefield trying to stop miners from being killed while Peri take the Master & Rani back to the tunnels. The Doctor is trussed up by the miners and carried away on a pole but his carriers tread on mines and are transformed into trees. The Rani & Master escape from Peri while the Doctor frees himself from his bindings. He returns to the caves for Peri and pursues his foes but the Master causes a cave in allowing them to escape to the Rani's Tardis which dematerialises. The Doctor's interference causes her Tardis leave at speed for the outer reaches of the Universe and during the turbulent flight on of the Rani's Tyrannosaurus embryos is knocked out of the stasis field holding it and begins to grow.... The Doctor & Peri return to Killingworth where Ravensworth & Stephenson have retrieved the Tardis for him. He astonishes them by entering the Tardis with Peri and then making it dematerialise in front of them.
You're gonna talk about the fake tree Phil aren't you? Well actually it's not too bad.... except when it grabs Peri and tries to grope her (#6 on the list!) The main problem is that the episode is just very slow, with not a lot happening and, bar the minefield, not a lot of danger going on. It's as if the story goes to sleep in the second half which is a shame because the first was rather promising. I do love the Rani's Tardis set, it's rather a splendid piece of work and it's a shame we never see it again.
Returning for these episodes is Anthony Ainley as The Master, last seen been burnt to death in Planet of Fire. Quite how he escaped is never confirmed. Making her Doctor Who debut here is actress Kate O'Mara as The Rani. She'd been in the acting profession for far longer than I thought.... Some years ago now I can remember watching an episode of The Saint, spotting a young woman who I thought looked nice and being astonished to see in the credits it was a young Kate O'Mara (she was in it three times as different characters so I can't say which one it was!) She had appeared in The Brothers with Colin Baker before infamy struck thanks to a spot of topless sun bathing on the deck of a North Sea ferry in the opening episode of Triangle. She'll be back for Time & The Rani, the first story for the Seventh Doctor, but in between she spent some time in America playing Caress Morrell, Alexis' sister, in Dynasty and later joined the cast of the BBC's Howards' Way just before the death of the series star Maurice Colbourne, Lytton in Resurrection of the Daleks & Attack of the Cybermen. O'Mara's second husband was Richard Willis who, as well as being nearly 20 years younger than her was Varsh in Full Circle. Her younger sister is actress Belinda Carroll who was married to Simon Williams (Group Captain Gilmore in Remembrance of the Daleks) and then married Michael Cochrane (Charles Cranleigh in Black Orchid and later as Redvers Fenn-Cooper in Ghost Light) Cochrane's brother is Martin Cochrane (General Chellak in Caves of Androzani) so Kate O'Mara may be related to more Doctor Who guest stars than any one else!
Terence Alexander, playing Lord Ravensworth was then a very well known face on the BBC from several years playing Charlie Hungerford in Bergerac. George Stephenson is generally credited as being the only historical figure in this story but Lord Ravensworth is a known historical figure, Thomas Liddell, 1st Baron Ravensworth. Since Stephenson doesn't appear till the second episode this makes Ravensworth the first historical figure to appear in Doctor Who since the Gunfighters. George Stephenson himself only appears in this episode and is played by Gawn Grainger, the husband of Zoe Wanamaker who plays Lady Cassandra in The End of the World & New Earth in the revived version of Doctor Who. Playing a guard is Richard Steele who was Gorton in The War Games and Sergeant Hart in the Silurians. Peter Childs, playing Jack Ward, is a very familiar figure to TV audiences from the 70s - check his CV for details!
The landmines in the woods sequence in the only location filming in this story not performed at Ironbridge in Shropshire. Instead the sequence is filmed at Park Wood, in Ruislip, a lot closer to Doctor Who's London base.
Mark of the Rani was novelised by the story's authors and released in 1986. It was released on video in July 1995 and on DVD in September 2006.