Time and the Rani was the first story in season twenty-four of Doctor Who. It marked the debut of Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor. Kate O'Mara made her second and final televised appearance (not including the charity special Dimensions in Time).

It was also the series's first exploits with computer-generated imagery, a relatively limited technology at the time. An all-computer animated opening titles sequence was introduced with this story, along with a new arrangement of the theme tune by Keff McCulloch, an appropriately electronic rendition composed entirely on a Prophet 5 Synthesiser. The logo of the series was also changed into a three-dimensionally animated part of the title sequence, and became the series logo that would stay in use until the early 1990s.

Following the circumstances of Colin Baker's exit from the role, the Sixth Doctor was made to immediately regenerate into the Seventh Doctor at the start of this story, so while The Ultimate Foe was the last story to feature Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor, Time and the Rani was the final appearance of the Sixth Doctor properly, though not played by Colin Baker himself. Baker was offered the chance to reprise the role of the Sixth Doctor in a proposed regeneration story, but he declined; he instead asked to be given a full season for his departure, but the denial of this request prompted him to turn down the reprisal. As a result, a pre-credits sequence was added into Time and the Rani featuring the Doctor's regeneration, with McCoy portraying both the Sixth and Seventh Doctors (to hide this, his face remained hidden until the end of the regeneration sequence).

The cause of the Sixth Doctor's regeneration is not explicitly shown on-screen, although he is seen being thrown across the console room as the TARDIS is pulled down during flight by the Rani. Spiral Scratch and The Brink of Death both provide narratives for the Sixth Doctor's regeneration, with both retroactively leading into the events of this serial.


The Rani has returned after her last encounter with the Doctor, with yet another malicious scientific scheme.

Taking advantage of the post-regenerative trauma the recently regenerated and unstable Doctor is going through, the Rani hopes to achieve control of an approaching asteroid composed entirely of strange matter.

Can the Doctor figure out he is being used for the Rani's evil experiment, and what is behind the door the Rani won't allow the Doctor past?


Part one

Sixth regeneration

End of the Sixth Doctor

While the TARDIS is flying through space, it is assaulted by multiple energy beams from the planet Lakertya, before being captured in a tractor beam. A native watches the TARDIS land nearby.

The Rani and her servant break into the TARDIS, where they find both the Doctor and Mel are unconscious from the forced landing. On the Rani's orders, the beast ignores Mel and turns the face-down Doctor around, revealing that he's covered in a swirling spiral of blurry colours. In the following moment, the features of this Doctor fade along with the light, leaving a freshly regenerated new incarnation in place of the old Doctor.

In the Rani's lab, it is revealed that she has used the Tetraps to force the Lakertyans into helping kidnap an array of genius scientists throughout time, including Albert Einstein, Louis Pasteur, and Hypatia. She now also requires the Doctor. Angered by the incompetence of her workers, the Rani scares away a female Lakertyan.

The Doctor recovers from the crash and seemingly is continuing a conversation his previous incarnation was having with Mel. He then notices that he is no longer in the TARDIS, has just regenerated and recognises the Rani. Angered by her presence, he wonders what kind of monstrous experiment she is up to now. He takes up his umbrella to strike her. The Rani knocks him out with a laser gun and injects him with an amnesia-inducing drug. She disguises herself as Mel. Once the Doctor recovers, she attempts to convince him to repair some broken machinery in "his" lab. Beyond the lab is a closed-off chamber.

Mel has meanwhile been left behind in the TARDIS. She encounters, and eventually wins the trust of, the young hot-headed Lakertyan Ikona, who is eager to dispatch the evil Rani and liberate his people.

In the meantime, the Doctor has returned to the TARDIS to change his clothes as he finds the clownish outfit of the Sixth not a fitting match for his new persona. After failing with several outfits (including a Napoleon outfit, a British guard outfit, a schoolteacher outfit, a cricket outfit similar to that of the Fifth Doctor, one of the Third Doctor's outfits, and the Fourth Doctor's burgundy outfit), the Doctor walks out from behind a clothes rack wearing the Second Doctor's fur coat, but opens it to reveal his new outfit, which the Rani finds befitting of a Time Lord.

As Mel and Ikona flee from a Tetrap, Mel trips one of the Rani's traps. She is encased in a large bubble and thrown over a cliff.

Part two

Mel's bubble lands safely in a lake, and Ikona is able to free her. They flee from Urak.

The Doctor and the Rani return to the lab, where the Doctor finds the problem and instructs "Mel" to return to the TARDIS and retrieve a tool. While doing so, the Rani orders her minion to kill Mel. Once the Rani returns and gives the Doctor the device he needs, he sees one of the mineral plates inside the device is broken. The Rani tells the Doctor that she can get a replacement from the locals, contradicting her earlier statement that they were not advanced enough for the Doctor's technological knowledge. The Doctor catches this as she leaves, realising that he has been duped. While the Rani leaves, Mel enters the lab and the Doctor mistakes her for the Rani. Mel, not recognising the Doctor due to his new face and clothes, wonders what he has done with the Doctor. After Mel mentions carrot juice and the Doctor responds with his great hatred of the beverage, they soften towards each other. He finds that she doesn't have a double pulse as a Time Lord would, and they accept that they are who they say they are. Mel says she knows about regeneration, but is still surprised to find his appearance and height completely different.

They decide to find out what the Rani has been planning. In an inner chamber, Beyus and Faroon show them an enormous brain that channels the kidnapped scientists' mental ability into a single gestalt mind. An asteroid composed entirely of strange matter, a very rare and super heavy material, is passing nearby. The Rani has constructed a fixed-trajectory rocket to collide with it at the approaching solstice. The only known substance that can destroy strange matter is strange matter itself, so she is using the brain to discover a lightweight substitute.

They return to the laboratory, and Faroon takes Mel to safety. The Rani returns, ready to take the Doctor to the brain, but he escapes into the Tetrap pit. She can't find him, but he is surrounded by Tetraps.

Part three

The Doctor is able to escape from the Tetraps when Beyus feeds them. In the laboratory, the Doctor removes a part from the Rani's machine, then leaves, right before the Rani returns. She sounds an alarm.

Meanwhile, Urak captures Mel, paralysing her with his venom. The Doctor meets Ikona, and narrowly escapes from one of the Rani's traps. A Tetrap is caught in it instead.

The Doctor is captured - Time and the Rani - BBC

The Doctor is captured - Time and the Rani - BBC

Mel and Beyus try to free the Doctor

Ikona shows the Doctor the Centre of Leisure and explains that his people have become indolent. The Rani, angry at Beyus' lack of cooperation, turns on the globe in the Centre of Leisure, releasing killer insects. Faroon tells the Doctor that the Rani has Mel. The Rani offers a trade — the part he stole for Mel. However, when he makes the trade, Mel is revealed to be a hologram.

The Doctor needs to get back to the laboratory to stop the Rani. He and Ikona try to bluff their way, but the Doctor is surrounded by Tetraps.

The Rani feeds the Doctor's intellect into the brain, and it starts working, as the Doctor's brain suggests a new approach to the problem.

Part four

To the Rani's annoyance, the brain starts spouting bad puns and nonsense. However, once disconnected, the Doctor inadvertently provides the brain with the means to determine the needed substance: Loyhargil.

Upon impact, the strange matter would form a shell of chronons around Lakertya, causing the brain to expand to fill the entire surface of the planet, converting it into a Time Manipulator. With this, the Rani can change the course of history and control the randomness of evolution throughout the universe. The Rani also casually mentions that she intends to leave the Doctor, Mel, the Lakertyans and the Tetraps to die on the planet during this process, but Urak overhears this, alarming him.

The giant brain - will Rani succeed? - Time and the Rani - BBC

The giant brain - will Rani succeed? - Time and the Rani - BBC

The Rani's plan is foiled.

The Lakertyan leader Beyus sacrifices his life to destroy the brain and delay the launch long enough for the rocket to miss the asteroid. The Rani escapes in her TARDIS, but finds it overrun with Tetraps who "invite" the Rani to accompany them to her homeworld.

On Lakertya, the Doctor and Mel make their goodbyes with the people they had befriended and helped liberate from the Rani. The Doctor gives Ikona the antidote to the Rani's killer insects, but Ikona pours this away on the ground — explaining that his people must solve their own problems from now on if they are to survive. Before going into the TARDIS, Mel tells the Doctor that his new self is going to take some getting used to, to which he replies, "I'll grow on you, Mel, I'll grow on you."


Uncredited cast



Cultural references from real world



  • The Rani injects the Doctor with a drug causing amnesia.

Particles and substances



Time Lords


  • A radiation wave meter is in the tool room of the Doctor's TARDIS.
  • The Doctor steals a microthermistor from the Rani's laboratory.
  • The Rani employs a hologram of Mel to deceive the Doctor during a hostage exchange.


Story notes

  • The concept of creating a weapon by collecting the minds of all the great thinkers, including the Doctor's, was also used in the then unfinished and unbroadcast story Shada. Both stories involve the Doctor using his stolen consciousness to counteract the weapon.
  • Loyhargil is an anagram of "holy grail".
  • The working title for this story was Strange Matter.
  • This was the debut performance for Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor. His first line in the role was: "No... no, Mel..."
  • This is the first story to feature computer generated images (CGI) for the titles and many of the effects (including the TARDIS's flight through space in the pre-title sequence).
  • The Radio Times programme listing for part one was accompanied by a black and white photograph of the Doctor on the surface of Lakertya, with a head-and-shoulders inset of the Rani, with the accompanying caption "The TARDIS materialises with a new Doctor at the helm! Sylvester McCoy is the seventh in line of intrepid Time Lords, who tonight comes face to face with the Rani (Kate O'Mara) / BBC1, 7.35 p.m. Doctor Who".
  • One reason for the story's problems was that Pip and Jane Baker (the writers) had no idea who would be playing the new Doctor or how he would be characterised — and, at least when they started work on the project, the series had no script editor for them to discuss things with.
  • Colin Baker declined to return to his role for the regeneration sequence at the beginning of the story. As a result, Sylvester McCoy donned a wig and the Sixth Doctor's costume and briefly appeared (as a body double, with face hidden) as the Sixth Doctor, making him the first actor to play (technically) two different incarnations of the Doctor. McCoy also spends much of the early part of the story clad in the Sixth Doctor's outfit.
  • ranked the Sixth Doctor's death as the second weakest death in science fiction history.[1]
  • Sylvester McCoy protested about wearing the question mark jumper. It wasn't until his reprisal of the Seventh Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who movie that his campaigning to discard the pullover was generously granted. He instead wore a red waistcoat (And was ironically "killed" before he could get any significant screen time wearing the waistcoat) .
  • In this story, the Seventh Doctor wears braces on the outside of the pullover, with it tucked in. Sylvester McCoy admitted it was a regrettable choice. He said it did injustice to the appearance of his tummy, giving him a "beer gut" look. For future stories, the actor instead kept to wearing his braces over his shirt, and had the pullover over that, as is more traditional.
  • During the regeneration, the exercise bike the Sixth Doctor rides in Terror of the Vervoids is visible in the TARDIS control room. In Issue 409 of Doctor Who Magazine, in an article on regeneration, the writer suggests that the Sixth Doctor's "mortal" injury may have been caused by him falling off the bike. However, the explanation offered in the Big Finish story AUDIO: The Brink of Death gives the Sixth Doctor a dignified death and negates this possibility. The same can be said for PROSE: Spiral Scratch, which was the first depiction of the regeneration until being re-designated as an alternate continuity by the release of the audio story.
  • This is the first time the Doctor is seen regenerating at the beginning of a serial, as opposed to its end (barring recap footage, of course).
  • This would be the last time a TARDIS other than the Doctor's was shown on-screen until the charity special Dimensions in Time. In televised Doctor Who terms, another TARDIS would not appear until the "Junk TARDIS" in TV: The Doctor's Wife.
  • In a behind-the-scenes interview featuring Sylvester McCoy, he jabbed at having to wear Colin Baker's oversized wardrobe before switching into his Doctor's new clothes. Aside from donning the loud colours of his predecessor, the costume was tailored to Baker's height, 6ft (183cm), which loosely fit his smaller height of 5ft 6in (168cm). He humorously protested about "getting lost for three days" inside the floppy fabrics.


  • Part one - 5.1 million viewers
  • Part two - 4.2 million viewers
  • Part three - 4.3 million viewers
  • Part four - 4.9 million viewers


  • Colin Baker refused to film a regeneration sequence. Partially true. In an extra found on the The Trial of a Time Lord DVD box set, Colin Baker said that when he was asked to film a regeneration sequence, he agreed as long as he was allowed to do a full third season playing the Doctor, at the end of which he would then regenerate. The production office never contacted him again.
  • Several myths are around how the Doctor regenerates. One is that he falls off his exercise bike, another has it that the Rani's TARDIS collided with his.

Filming locations

  • Cloford Quarry, Cloford, Frome, Somerset (Exterior of Rani's base)
  • Westdown Quarry, Chantry, Frome, Somerset (Location where the TARDIS lands)
  • Whatley Quarry, Whatley, Frome, Somerset
  • BBC Television Centre (TC1 & TC8), 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.
  • The overhead microphone is visible in part one after the disguised Rani introduces herself as Mel. The boom operator seems to be having trouble following the Doctor's erratic movements.
  • Mel slides from hills and sits in a cave-like pipe, yet the seat of her white trousers remains very clean.
  • In part three, when the Rani searches for the Doctor outside of the building, she wears red trousers instead of the white ones from earlier.
  • During the first shot of Mel imprisoned in the Tetrap lair in part 3, the part of the lair visible behind her moves slightly to the right and then descends a few inches, revealing that it is just a backdrop.
  • Sylvester McCoy's face is briefly visible as he's rolled over just before the regeneration begins.


Home video and audio releases

DVD releases

  • This story was first released on DVD in Region 2 on 13 September 2010. Region 4 release came out 4 November 2010 and Region 1 on 14 June 2011. The one disc set includes a restored version of the story, as well as the following special features:
  • Commentary by Sylvester McCoy (the Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Mel), and Pip & Jane Baker (Writers).
  • The Last Chance Saloon - includes McCoy's audition footage for the Doctor, with an appearance by Janet Fielding
  • 7D FX
  • Helter-Skelter
  • Lakertya
  • Hot Gossip
  • Blue Peter
  • Breakfast Time
  • Coming Soon Trailer
  • Radio Times Billings
  • Baker to Mccoy2

    The CGI version of the Regeneration, with Colin Baker added in. Avaliable on the Time and The Rani DVD as an Easter Egg.

    Production Subtitles
  • Photo Gallery
  • Easter Egg: CGI Regeneration sequence, with Colin Baker's face digitally added in place of McCoy's to make it authentic. To access this hidden feature, press left at 7D FX on the Special Features menu.
  • Easter Egg: Eye-Sore. To access this hidden feature, press right at Blue Peter on the Special Features menu.
  • Easter Egg: The Name'sh McCoy, Shylveshter McCoy. To access this hidden feature, press left at PDF Materials on the Special Features menu.
  • A computer animation at the very beginning to explain how the Rani made the TARDIS crash-land.

VHS releases

This story was released on VHS as follows:

  • Region 2: July 1995
  • Region 1: September 1995
  • Region 4: October 1995

Digital releases

  • The story is available for streaming in the US through Hulu Plus or Amazon Instant Video in the UK.

External links


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