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The Mark of the Rani was the third serial of season 22 of Doctor Who. A new Time Lord villain, the First Rani, was introduced in this serial. She would later return in Time and the Rani.


In 19th century England, the Sixth Doctor finds himself facing two competing enemies: his old adversary, the Master, and the First Rani, another Time Lord with a sinister plan. The local population is turning violent and unpredictable. 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 the Master and the Rani's evil plans.


Part 1[]

Something is amiss in the mining village of Killingworth in early 19th century England. Miners are being gassed in the bathhouse and turned into thugs and vandals, attacking men and smashing up machinery, seen as Luddites by other locals. The Sixth Doctor and Peri Brown witness this when they arrive in Killingworth looking for the cause of some sort of time distortion. They also notice 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 at the ferocity of the attacks, with the most passive of men suddenly turning violent and unpredictable.

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

The Doctor has meanwhile dressed as a miner and entered the bathhouse. He soon deduces the Rani's schemes. She traps him but he challenges her ethics. She reveals 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. The angry Luddites put the Doctor in a cart to ensure that he follows it.

Part 2[]

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 the Master is so desperate to see the event take place, he uses mind control of 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 speed up Earth's development and then use the planet as a power base. He strikes a deal with the Rani; 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 bathhouse and dodges booby traps to enter the Rani's TARDIS. Her control room holds jars of preserved dinosaur embryos. She summons her ship to the old mine workings with a remote control device, with the Doctor still inside. He hides while his adversaries talk. The Rani has also set land mines in nearby Redfern Dell. When the coast is clear, the Doctor slips away to report back to Ravensworth, Stephenson and Luke, who is behaving strangely.

Peri is making herself useful by using her botanical knowledge to make a sleeping-draught for the afflicted miners. Her quest for herbs leads her to Redfern Dell. The Doctor surprises the Master and the Rani, who are lurking at the edge of the dell. Soon after he does, he sees Luke step on a mine and get turned into a tree. The Doctor takes the other two Time Lords prisoner with the Master's own Tissue Compression Eliminator. Peri takes 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 also has a trick or two:


Doctor Who - Will the Master and the Rani escape? - Mark of the Rani - BBC

The Doctor having sabotaged the Rani's TARDIS, the Master and the First Rani are defeated.

he has sabotaged the navigational system. The ship is out of control. In the destabilised condition, one of the jars holding a Tyrannosaurus Rex embryo falls on the floor and the creature, affected by the time spillage, starts to grow.

The Doctor and Peri make a swap with Ravensworth, who has retrieved the TARDIS. He gets the phial of brain fluid, which he is told to give to the affected miners. Before the eyes of an astonished scientist and his financier, the TARDIS departs...


Uncredited cast[]


Uncredited crew[]



  • An embryo of Tyrannosaurus Rex is in the Rani's TARDIS. The Doctor imagines she took it from the Cretaceous.
  • Peri Brown goes and searches for valerian (Valeriana officinalis), a herb to cure the Rani's victims.
  • The land mines of the Rani turn animal beings into conscious vegetable beings.
  • Talking about ecology and the difference with the 1800s, Peri says that in her time, some species of butterfly and birds are almost extinct.
  • The Doctor says that the Master would probably turn into a laburnum if he stepped on one of the Rani's mines since it is a poisonous tree.
  • The Rani blames the Earthlings for being carnivores.
  • According to the Rani, a tree has four times the life expectancy of a human being.
  • Peri Brown is afraid of rabies and guesses Time Lords are immune to it.
  • The Rani uses impregnated worm parasites to take over the minds of her victims and turn them into slaves, which is her version of hypnotism. When the parasites take hold, the eyes of the victim glow a blue colour briefly.

Cultural references from real world[]

  • The Rani's TARDIS is covered with a work by Turner.
  • The Doctor calls a dog "Fido".
  • The Doctor and Peri were originally headed to the Kew Gardens.
  • The scientists Thomas Telford, Michael Faraday, Humphry Davy and Marc Brunel are expected to attend the meeting.
  • The Doctor quotes Battle of the Baltic by Thomas Campbell: "There was silence deep as death".
  • The Doctor quotes Julius Caesar - "Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once".
  • The Doctor paraphrases Hamlet: "Now perhaps you'll accept there are more things in heaven and earth than are ever dreamed of in your barren philosophy".
  • Peri misquotes Henry IV Part I: "Discretion is the better part of valour". The actual line is "The better part of valour is discretion," but Peri's is the more popular version.


  • The First Rani was exiled from Gallifrey because her giant mice ate the Lord President's cat and took a bite out of the President himself according to the Master. She now rules Miasimia Goria, where she controls a race of aliens. The Rani had come to Earth for centuries, unnoticed; she has extracted brain fluid from people in the Trojan War, the Dark Ages and the American War of Independence. She is also aware of the Master's failed plan on Sarn and had thought he was dead.
  • The Master briefly disguises himself as a scarecrow.
  • The Doctor refers to Stephenson's "Rocket" in a pun. Peri tells him his puns are getting worse.

TARDIS and time travel[]

  • The TARDIS key manages to open the Rani's TARDIS.
  • The Rani has her TARDIS connected to a Stattenheim remote control. She is considered a genius because she managed to invent it. Both the Doctor and the Master are amazed by the achievement.
  • Time spillage causes one of the Tyrannosaurus Rex embryos in the Rani's TARDIS to begin maturing rapidly.
  • The Doctor sabotages the navigational system and the velocity regulator of the Rani's TARDIS. He foresees they will be flung beyond the Milky Way, maybe at the borders of the universe.
  • The acceleration in the Rani's TARDIS sends the Master and the Rani towards the wall in a manner similar to G force.
  • The Master uses his TARDIS to override the Doctor's TARDIS, bringing it to Killingworth.
  • The Doctor traces the Rani, thanks to a tracking device for time distortions. It detects a time machine nearby, perhaps belonging to a Time Lord, a Dalek or another alien force.


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 illness — which ultimately resulted in his death — prevented him from finishing the work and forced the production team to give the assignment to Gibbs just after Lewis had scored the first episode. Lewis' score for the first episode was included on the DVD release.
  • The following credit appeared 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 TV: Blink, directed by Hettie MacDonald, in 2007.
  • The Mark of the Rani was shown in four twenty-five-minute episodes in the USA, Canada, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Australia and New Zealand.
  • The Rani was conceived as a new, ongoing villain, but the character only appeared once more in the series, two years later in TV: Time and the Rani. Kate O'Mara reprised the role for the charity special TV: Dimensions in Time (which is considered to be a non-legitimate story by many fans and this wikia) and the spin-off audio production AUDIO: The Rani Reaps the Whirlwind. 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 to Missy being considered possible Ranis-in-disguise.
  • Colin Baker and Kate O'Mara had previously costarred in the BBC drama series The Brothers.
  • Eric Saward found the script to be workmanlike. He also greatly disliked Pip and Jane Baker.
  • Pip and Jane Baker took the blame for the tree scene, saying that they would have changed it if they knew it wouldn't work on the budget.
  • Colin Baker did his own stunts in this serial.
  • The Rani's experimentation with the sleep centres of the human brain came from an article Pip and Jane Baker read in The New Scientist.
  • The cast and crew were stuck with the issue of having to film the story mostly on-location during inconsistently rainy weather. As the story entailed one part to be in clear weather and the other in the rain, this resulted in the team having to constantly shift back and forth between areas in order to get everything filmed properly. One such scene in the clear weather portion involved the Doctor being tied to a pole in the forest by his hands and feet, and because it took a long time to set up (due to Colin Baker needing a special rigging to keep his back supported while tied up), it wasn't easy to shift from that scene to a rainy one on the fly. As fate would have it, rain started coming in exactly as they were filming that scene, and the crew were in such a rush to get to the other location that they left Baker stranded in the woods, tied to the pole, for around half an hour. 
  • Joss Ackland, Harry Andrews, Bernard Archard, Robin Bailey, George Baker, Ian Bannen, Geoffrey Bayldon, John Carson, Peter Cushing, Allan Cuthbertson, James Ellis, Frank Finlay, Robert Flemyng, Michael Gough, Jeremy Kemp, Dinsdale Landen, T.P. McKenna, Donald Pickering, Peter Sallis, John Standing, Patrick Stewart and Peter Vaughan were considered for Lord Ravensworth.
  • 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.
  • During the scene where the Doctor makes his face dirty using Fuller's earth, Colin Baker unknowingly smeared dog excrement on his face.
  • The Rani's character came to Pip and Jane Baker after a chemist friend of theirs said, "All you are is chemicals", to which another friend replied, "But what about the soul?"
  • Kate O'Mara enjoyed the shoot, but found that old woman make-up was so good that she was ignored and not offered a seat. The experience made her feel sorry for real old people and how society treats them.
  • Pip and Jane Baker created the Rani after John Nathan-Turner said the Master was becoming too pantomime.
  • Eric Saward claimed to have suggested including the Master and the historical setting.
  • Sarah Hellings claims that when John Nathan-Turner offered the chance to direct Doctor Who, she said "arrogantly" that she'd do it only if it were on film and if it were this story.


  • Part one - 6.3 million viewers
  • Part two - 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 well known for her appearances in UK soap operas, including for the BBC The Brothers - opposite Colin Baker - and Triangle. Her appearances on Dynasty were filmed between the 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 at 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 Ravenworth'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

Production errors[]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • When Peri enters the bathhouse, she locks the door with the wooden bar. When the Rani and the Master return, the wooden bar is unlocked.
  • When they discover Peri, she stands at the foot of the Doctor. In the next shot, they come from the other room.
  • When the Doctor dangles above the pit, one of his three attackers falls in. A moment later there is a close-up of three pairs of hands aiming weapons at him. This shot belonged to an earlier part of the sequence before they arrived at the pit.
  • When the Doctor first dangles above the pit, he barely fits. When the TARDIS is thrown down, it also fits but is much bigger than the Doctor.


Home video and audio releases[]

DVD releases[]

This story was 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 17 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
  • Easter Egg- Navigate down to Special Features on the first menu and press the left arrow to highlight a hidden Doctor Who logo. Press select to see continuity clips from the original BBC1 broadcast


It was released as issue 63 of the Doctor Who DVD Files.

VHS releases[]

  • This story was released on VHS in July 1995.

Digital releases[]

  • The story is available for streaming in the US through Hulu Plus or Amazon Instant Video in the UK.
  • It is also available to download through iTunes.


The story was released on Blu-ray as part of The Collection: Season 22 on 20 June 2022


Mark of the Rani novel.jpg
Main article: The Mark of the Rani (novelisation)

External links[]