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"Don't bother with flattery!"
―The Rani
The Mark of the Rani
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 22
Story Number: 140
Doctor: Sixth Doctor
Companions: Peri
Setting: Killingworth; 1820s
Writer: Pip & Jane Baker
Director: Sarah Hellings
Broadcast: 2nd February - 9th February 1985
Format: 2 45-minute episodes
Previous Story: Vengeance on Varos
Following Story: The Two Doctors

The Mark of the Rani was the third story of Season 22 of Doctor Who. A new Time Lord villain, the Rani, was introduced in this serial.



In 19th century England, the Doctor finds himself facing two competing enemies: his old adversary the Master, and the Rani, another Time Lord with a sinister plan. The local population are turning violent and unpredictable and, with a major meeting of the brains of the Industrial Revolution due to happen in the village soon, the Doctor must work out what exactly is causing all the problems. Only the Doctor can stop both the Master and the Rani's evil plans.


Part 1

The Master and the Rani join forces

Something is amiss in the mining village of Killingworth, in the early part of 19th century England. Miners are being gassed in the wash-house and transformed into thugs and vandals, attacking men and machinery, being perceived as Luddites by other locals. The Doctor and Peri Brown witness the phenomenon when they arrive in Killingworth looking for the cause of some sort of time distortion, and he also notices 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 by the ferocity of the local Luddite attacks, with the most passive of men suddenly turning violent and unpredictable.

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

The Doctor has meanwhile dressed as a miner and infiltrated the bath-house, where he soon deduces the Rani's schemes. She entraps him but he still challenges her ethics, prompting her to reveal 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, and the angry Luddites put the Doctor in a cart to ensure that he follows it.

Part 2

After 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 elsewhere the Master is so desperate to see the event take place he uses mind-control over 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 help speed up Earth's development and then use the planet as a powerbase. He strikes a deal with the Rani that 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 wash-house and dodges the booby traps to find a way into the Rani's TARDIS. Her control room contains jars of preserved dinosaur embryos. She summons her ship to the old mine workings using a remote control device, with the Doctor still inside. He hides while his adversaries converse, with the Rani confessing to have also laid landmines in nearby Redfern Dell; and when the coast is clear the Doctor slips away to report back to Ravensworth, Stephenson and Luke, whom he sees is behaving strangely.

To make herself useful Peri is using her botanical knowledge to make a sleeping draught for the afflicted miners, but her quest for herbs leads her to Redfern Dell. The Doctor gets there in time to save her, but not before Luke accidentally steps on a mine and is turned into a tree. The Doctor then surprises the Master and the Rani, who are lurking at the edge of the Dell, and takes them prisoner with the Master's own Tissue Compression Eliminator. Peri is given 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 has also developed a trick or two: he has sabotaged the navigational system and the ship starts heading out of control. In the destabilised condition, one of the jars containing an embryo tyrannosaurus rex falls to the floor and the creature begins to grow, affected by the time spillage.

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




Story Notes

  • This story had working titles of; Too Clever By Far and Enter The Rani.
  • The music score for this story was provided by composer Jonathan Gibbs. John Lewis was originally hired to compose the score, but a sudden onset of illness — which ultimately resulted in his death — prevented him being able to finish the work and forced the production team to give the assignment to Gibbs just after Lewis had completed scoring 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. 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.


  • Part 1 - 6.3 million viewers
  • Part 2 - 7.3 million viewers


  • 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. Her appearances on Dynasty were filmed between production of this story and her later return in Time and the Rani)

Filming Locations

  • Most of the location filming, including the village scenes, was done as Blists Hill Open Air Museum in Shropshire.
  • Granville Colliery Spoil Heaps (now known as Granville Park), Lodge Road, Donnington Wood, Telford, Shropshire (Scene of the TARDIS landing)
  • Coalport China Museum, Coalport, Telford, Shropshire (Lord Raven's offices)
  • Blists Hill Victorian Town, Madeley, Shropshire
  • Park Wood, Bury Street, Ruislip, Middlesex (The tree scenes)
  • BBC Television Centre (TC6), Shepherd's Bush, London

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • No Luddites ever attacked pit machinery, which didn't threaten their livelihoods. But as the Doctor realises in Episode 1, the true Luddites are merely a historical convenience that the Rani is using to cover her tracks. Lord Ravensworth and Luke Ward, who have not had their reason warped by the Rani's experiments and know full well that the pit machinery will not affect anyone's jobs, are bemused by the rage and stupidity of her victims.
  • Lord Ravensworth's amateur botany is the source of the drugs required - is there no local medic? Medic might have been away during this story, Ravensworth could have been taking over until a replacement could arrive
  • Kew Gardens was not open in the 1820s. They didn't land in Kew Gardens; they were just hoping to land there.
  • Thomas Edison was not born until 1847 (well after the Luddite riots).
  • Would the booby-trapped screen really require the whole of the Rani's TARDIS to power it? Surely she could have found an easier way. She clearly has enough technical know-how. Indeed, why not use a bomb instead?
  • How does the Doctor's key open the Rani's TARDIS?(TARDIS keys may be universal, or it might have something to do with the Doctor's TARDIS having 23 or 24 tumblers, where you have to get the right one or the lock melts.)
  • The trolley to which the Doctor has been secured at the end of the first episode, unaccountably manages to steer itself when careering down the hill.


DVD and Video Releases

DVD Releases

Released as Doctor Who: The Mark of the Rani'.



  • Commentary by Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Kate O'Mara
  • Lords and Luddites - Actors and crew recall the making of The Mark of the Rani in this specially-shot documentary, featuring Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Kate O'Mara and Gary Cady, writers Pip & Jane Baker, script editor Eric Saward and composer Jonathan Gibbs
  • Deleted Scenes - Nearly ten minutes of additional material from an early edit of Part 1.
  • Now and Then - A short film featuring the Blists Hill Victorian Town location.
  • Playing With Time - An interview with the story's composer, Jonathan Gibbs.
  • Blue Peter - A short film from 1978 exploring the history of Ironbridge Gorge and Blists Hill
  • Saturday Superstore - An extract from March 1984 featuring Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Anthony Ainley.
  • Alternative Soundtrack - The option to view Part 1 with the partially-completed original music score by John Lewis
  • Isolated Music Score - Clean synchronous music is available for both episodes.
  • Radio Times Listings (DVD-ROM)
  • Photo Gallery
  • Production Subtitles


VHS Releases

  • This story was released on VHS in July of 1995.


Main article: The Mark of the Rani (novelisation)

External Links

  • BBC Episode Guide for The Mark of the Rani
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide: Detailed Synopsis - The Mark of the Rani
  • A Brief History of Time (Travel): The Mark of the Rani
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who - The Mark of the Rani
Season 22
Attack of the Cybermen  • Vengeance on Varos  • The Mark of the Rani  • The Two Doctors  • Timelash  • Revelation of the Daleks
The Master - TV Stories
Terror of the Autons  • The Mind of Evil  • The Claws of Axos  • Colony in Space  • The Dæmons  • The Sea Devils  • The Time Monster  • Frontier in Space  • The Deadly Assassin  • The Keeper of Traken  • Logopolis  • Castrovalva  • Time-Flight  • The King's Demons  • The Five Doctors  • Planet of Fire  • The Mark of the Rani  • The Ultimate Foe  • Survival  • Doctor Who: The TV Movie  •
Utopia/ The Sound of Drums/ Last of the Time LordsThe End of Time

This article uses material from the "The Mark of the Rani" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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