This story, which introduces the character of renegade Time Lady the Rani (Kate O’Mara), is one of the finest from the sixth Doctor’s era and possibly Pip and Jane Baker’s finest script.
The Doctor (Colin Baker ) and Peri (Nicola Bryant) arrive during the Industrial Revolution to discover that the renegade Timelords the Rani and Master are both on Earth hatching separate plans – the Master (Anthony Ainley) is plotting nothing more complicated than the death of important figures of the revolution. Meanwhile the Rani is drawing a pacifying chemical from the minds of humans in order to reverse the side effects of her experiments on the population of Miasimia Goria.
The main feature is a visual feast thanks in part to the large amount of location filming, some excellent handheld camera work and near faultless direction by Sarah Hellings. Sadly most of the studio based scenes aren’t as effective as the location work with only Stephenson’s workshop looking even remotely realistic. Even by the standards of the day the remaining sets seem lacking and jar visually with the rich exteriors.
Issues with the internal sets aside, the production holds up very well by today’s expectations and the high standards of location work combined with the story structure of two 45 minute episodes make for a very modern feeling story.
Baker, Bryant and O’Mara provide a lively and good humoured commentary. Sadly there is no input from anyone involved in the behind the camera elements (Director Sarah Hemmings was unavailable on the day the commentary was recorded. source: Restoration Team website) but all three participants have a good recollection of the story and the commentary features a decent number of interesting anecdotes.
The disc is packed with extras. The first is Lords and Luddites, a look at the production of the story with contributions from many of the cast as well as writers Pip and Jane Baker. Over the years the two have taken their (un)fair share of knocks for what many fans see as their part in the gradual decline of the series during the 80’s so it’s nice to see them have the opportunity to address the audience directly.
Perhaps inevitably some of the anecdotes told in this feature are also told in the main commentary but there’s also a wealth of new material and the feature is genuinely interesting and informative.
Now and Then takes an interesting look at the locations used in the filming of the story using material from the serial and newly shot footage. There’s a further look at the location in a 1979 Blue Peter feature about the Ironbridge Gorge museum which was also shot by story Director Sarah Hellings.
A package of deleted scenes are also included which include the original TARDIS based opening scene for the story and additional footage of most principle characters. These are ‘framed’ with elements of the transmitted scenes for greater clarity and context. Although none really add to the story as transmitted it’s great to be able to see these glimpses of the story as originally shot.
Playing with Time takes a look at the incidental music written for the story by composer Jonathan Gibbs. Gibbs gives a brief introduction on how he came to be working at the Radiophonic Workshop before moving on to explaining the process of scoring a Doctor Who story.
The full garish nature of the 1980’s is laid bare with an extract from Saturday Superstore which features Baker and Bryant in costume. Computer users are catered for with the inclusion of PDF versions of the 1985 Doctor Who Annual and original Radio Times billings for the story.
Doctor Who: The Mark Of The Rani is released by 2 | Entertain on September 4th 2006.
and can be bought via BBCShop.com’s Doctor Who Store