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Serial 6X:
The Mark Of The Rani

Plot

The TARDIS is drawn to Earth during the Luddite Uprisings. There, the Master is once again trying to alter the planet's history, while an evil Time Lady called the Rani is also present, extracting chemicals from the brains of local workers for her own use. As a result of the Rani's experiments, rioting amongst the workers is intensifying, threatening the work of famed engineer George Stephenson. It falls to the Doctor and Peri to foil the uneasy partnership between the two villains and restore Earth's history to its proper course.

Production

The Master was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. Actor Anthony Ainley's contract had expired with his appearance in Season Twenty-One's Planet Of Fire, and it was initially felt within the production office that no renewal would be sought. This was a position particularly favoured by script editor Eric Saward, who was not a fan of the character. However, as planning for Doctor Who's twenty-second season got underway, producer John Nathan-Turner experienced a change of heart, allegedly because of the Master's continued popularity amongst fans. Instead, it was decided to maintain the tradition of recent years by having the Master feature in a single story.

In the meantime, Nathan-Turner was pursuing the husband-and-wife team of Pip and Jane Baker to write for Season Twenty-Two. The Bakers were veteran scripters known for their ability to work quickly and to budget. In addition to several novels and low-budget movies, they had contributed episodes of television shows such as Z Cars and Space: 1999. The Bakers had also collaborated with former Doctor Who producer Graham Williams on an unmade thriller series called The Zodiac Factor, and Williams had tried unsuccessfully to interest them in writing for Doctor Who in the late Seventies. Nathan-Turner was inspired to approach the Bakers after finding their script for The Zodiac Factor in the Doctor Who production office. The Bakers were initially reluctant, but were encouraged by Saward's suggestion that they might attempt an adventure with an historical setting.

The Bakers decided to devise a storyline which used the Luddite uprisings as a backdrop. Inspired by a (possibly mythical) eighteenth-century figure called Ned Ludd, Luddism was an anti-industrial movement which began in Nottingham in 1811. For the next several years, the Luddites engaged in a campaign of increasingly violent vandalism against mill and factory owners. The movement finally waned following the creation of new laws which imposed severe punishment against those engaged in industrial espionage. In contrast, the Bakers also wanted to include George Stephenson, a British engineer famed for his pioneering work with steam locomotives and railways.

Mindful of the need to come up with a Master story for Season Twenty-Two, Saward suggested that the villain should be included in the Bakers' storyline. They developed the notion of pairing the Master with an evil Time Lady called the Rani, whose name was taken from a Hindi word for “queen”. Inspired by a neurochemist friend of theirs who held a very secular view of life, the Bakers envisaged this character as an amoral scientist for whom the universe was just a giant laboratory. With their characterisation of the Rani in mind, the pair was also eager to incorporate an element of real science in their storyline. Drawing upon an article concerning sleep receptors they had read in the New Scientist, the Bakers developed a plot thread about the Rani's experimentation with the sleep centres of the human brain.

The Bakers were commissioned to write a storyline called “Too Clever By Far” on September 30th, 1983. By the time the full scripts were requested, on November 7th, the title had become “Enter The Rani”. It was planned that this would be the fourth story of Season Twenty-Two, to be made as Serial 6X. In March, a happy error on the part of the BBC schedulers resulted in “Enter The Rani” being allocated an extra week of location filming. Nathan-Turner was eager to take advantage of this mistake, even though it meant dropping one of the serial's two studio blocks, and the Bakers were asked to amend their scripts appropriately.

The director assigned to Serial 6X was Sarah Hellings, making her only foray into the world of Doctor Who. Hellings had previously helmed episodes of Angels and Juliet Bravo, and would later work on shows such as Howards' Way, Doctor Finlay and Midsomer Murders. Hellings had also worked on Blue Peter, and had spent some time at Blists Hill Open Air Museum at Telford in Shropshire. This was a recreation of a nineteenth-century village which Hellings felt would be perfect for “Enter The Rani”. The Bakers, on the other hand, had envisaged the story as being filmed at an open air museum in South Wales, and had included elements such as overhead coal tracks and a switching station on the rails. Unfortunately, these were not extant at Blists Hill, and so Saward had to amend the action to reflect Hellings' chosen location.

On June 6th, Anthony Ainley was contracted to return as the Master in “Enter The Rani”. For the title character, Hellings proposed Kate O'Mara, who had appeared in a number of Hammer Horror films including The Vampire Lovers, and was also well known for television series such as The Avengers, The Brothers (wit Colin Baker) and Triangle. Nathan-Turner, on the other hand, preferred noted stage actress Sarah Badel (with whom he had worked on The Pallisers). When Badel turned down the offer, Nathan-Turner decided to follow Hellings' suggestion, and O'Mara was contracted on September 4th.

By the time rehearsals for Serial 6X began in October, the story had gained its final title: The Mark Of The Rani. It was also decided that, although the adventure would be made as the fourth serial of the production block, it would be broadcast as the third story of Season Twenty-Two (ahead of The Two Doctors, which had preceded it into production).

The two-week location shoot was planned to take place entirely at Telford, and began on October 22nd with a day at the Granville Colliery Spoils Heap. The arrival of the TARDIS was filmed there, as was material involving the drayman in Redfern Vale and the theft of the TARDIS by Ward and his cronies. The next five days were all spent at Blists Hill, recording a variety of scenes in Killingworth, Redfern Vale, and around the pithead. Unfortunately, as this first week at Telford drew to a close, Nicola Bryant injured her neck while sleeping. As a result, she would have to wear a brace for the remainder of the shoot -- except while the cameras were actually rolling -- and was in some discomfort.

After a day off, the second week of filming on The Mark Of The Rani began on October 29th, when the Coalport China Works served as the exterior of Lord Ravensworth's office and George Stephenson's workshop. It was then planned to return to Blists Hill for three further days, finishing up the location shoot on November 1st; the outstanding material largely dealt with sequences in Redfern Vale and Redfern Dell. However, rain began falling on October 30th, significantly slowing the team's progress. A contingency day had already been scheduled for November 2nd to deal with such an eventuality, but the bad weather scarcely let up, and by week's end, Hellings still had a number of vital scenes left to film.

It was agreed that some of this material could be rewritten for the studio, but many of the scenes had to take place in a woodland environment. Nathan-Turner successfully lobbied for a remount, but the money allocated for the purpose would not cover a return to Shropshire. Fortunately, the Bakers knew of a forest called Park Wood, near their home in Ruislip, Middlesex, that would match the Blists Hill footage well enough for Hellings' purposes. Cast and crew spent one day at Park Wood, completing the necessary material on November 12th.

The lone three-day studio session for The Mark Of The Rani began on November 18th in BBC Television Centre Studio 1. Time was very tight because of the unexpected need to tape material held over from the second week at Blists Hill. The 18th saw scenes recorded in the TARDIS console room, Ravensworth's office, and the Rani's bathhouse. More bathhouse sequences were taped the next day, along with those at the entrance to the disused mine and in the Rani's TARDIS. Unlike the Master's TARDIS seen in recent years, this was not a redressed version of the Doctor's console room, but rather an entirely new set, designed by Paul Trerise around a circular theme. Production on Serial 6X concluded on November 20th, with recording taking place on a variety of sets -- including the Rani's TARDIS, the disused mineworks, Ravensworth's office, and Stephenson's workshop -- along with effects shots.

Unusually, the original commission for the incidental music for The Mark Of The Rani did not go to a member of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop -- as was Nathan-Turner's usual policy -- but rather to an independent composer named John Lewis. Unfortunately, Lewis fell ill from AIDS-related complications and died in February 1985. Although he had composed thirty-two minutes of music for The Mark Of The Rani, it was decided that his work would not be used; his family was compensated all the same. Instead, Jonathan Gibbs of the Radiophonic Workshop was assigned the task of composing a new score for the serial.

Meanwhile, the Rani had proved to be a very popular character with the production team. Nathan-Turner, in particular, saw her potential as a recurring adversary for the Doctor -- one whom he felt would be more complex and less hackneyed than the Master. Kate O'Mara was quickly sounded out to gauge her interest in returning to Doctor Who, and she confirmed that she was open to reprising the character. A preservation order was given for the Rani's TARDIS console room set, and discussions began with writer Robert Holmes about adding the character to his planned Season Twenty-Three story, “Yellow Fever, Or How To Cure It”...

Sources
  • Doctor Who: The Handbook: The Sixth Doctor by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1993), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 0 426 20400 8.
  • Doctor Who: The Eighties by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1996), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 1 85227 680 0.
  • Doctor Who Magazine #217, 28th September 1994, “Archive: The Mark Of The Rani” by Andrew Pixley, Marvel Comics UK Ltd.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #3, 22nd January 2003, “Everything Must Change” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.
  • In-Vision #81, November 1998, “Production” edited by Anthony Brown, Cybermark Services.

Original Transmission
Episode 1
Date 2nd Feb 1985
Time 5.22pm
Duration 45'01"
Viewers (more) 6.3m (111th)
· BBC1 6.3m
Appreciation 64%
Episode 2
Date 9th Feb 1985
Time 5.22pm
Duration 44'32"
Viewers (more) 7.3m (84th)
· BBC1 7.3m
Appreciation 64%


Cast
The Doctor
Colin Baker
Peri
Nicola Bryant
The Master
Anthony Ainley
(more)
The Rani
Kate O'Mara
Lord Ravensworth
Terence Alexander
Jack Ward
Peter Childs
Luke Ward
Gary Cady
Guard
Richard Steele
Tim Bass
William Ilkley
Edwin Green
Hus Levent
Sam Rudge
Kevin White
Drayman
Martyn Whitby
Young Woman
Sarah James
Older Woman
Cordelia Ditton
George Stephenson
Gawn Grainger


Crew
Written by
Pip Baker and
Jane Baker
Directed by
Sarah Hellings
Produced by
John Nathan-Turner
(more)

Title Music composed by
Ron Grainer
Incidental Music
Jonathan Gibbs
Special Sound
Dick Mills
BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Film Cameraman
Kevin Rowley
Film Sound
Barrie Tharby
Film Editor
Ray Wingrove
Production Manager
Tony Redston
Production Associate
Sue Anstruther
Production Assistant
Carolyn Mawdsley
Assistant Floor Manager
Penny Williams
Visual Effects Designer
David Barton
Video Effects
Dave Chapman
Vision Mixer
Jayne Beckett
Technical Co-Ordinator
Alan Arbuthnott
Camera Supervisor
Alec Wheal
Videotape Editor
Hugh Parson
Lighting Director
Don Babbage
Studio Sound
Keith Bowden
Costume Designer
Dinah Collin
Make-up Designer
Catherine Davies
Script Editor
Eric Saward
Title Sequence
Sid Sutton
Designer
Paul Trerise


Working Titles
Too Clever By Far
Enter The Rani


Media
DVD Release
Doctor Who: The Mark Of The Rani (2006)
Buy: Canada · UK · USA
Novelisation
Doctor Who: The Mark Of The Rani by Pip and Jane Baker (1986)

Updated 5th July 2010