|Time and the Rani|
|Novelised as:||Time and the Rani|
|Main enemy:||The Rani, Urak, The Tetraps|
|Writer:||Pip & Jane Baker|
|Number of episodes:||4|
|Premiere broadcast:||7 September - 28 September 1987|
|Doctor Who television stories|
|The Ultimate Foe||Paradise Towers|
|Another memorable moment|
|One more memorable moment|
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 (McCoy also briefly portrayed the Sixth Doctor for the regeneration sequence). 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. Kate O'Mara made her second and final televised appearance (not including the charity special Dimensions in Time).
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. However, the cause of his regeneration is not shown on-screen. PROSE: Spiral Scratch serves as the Sixth Doctor's actual regeneration story, retroactively leading into the events of this serial. The cold open of Part One can alternatively be viewed as a recap sequence pertaining to the end of the novel, similar to the teaser in TV: Castrovalva showing the previous ending of TV: Logopolis.
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?
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 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.
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, Mel accepts that he is the Doctor. 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.
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. The Doctor meets Ikona, and narrowly escapes from one of the Rani's traps. A Tetrap is caught in it instead.
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.
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 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."
- The Doctor - Sylvester McCoy
- Mel Bush - Bonnie Langford
- The Rani - Kate O'Mara
- Ikona - Mark Greenstreet
- Faroon - Wanda Ventham
- Beyus - Donald Pickering
- Sarn - Karen Clegg
- Urak - Richard Gauntlett
- Lanisha - John Segal
- Voices - Peter Tuddenham, Jacki Webb
- The Doctor - Sylvester McCoy (uncredited)
- Assistant Floor Manager - Joanna Newbery, Christopher Sandeman
- Costumes - Ken Trew
- Designer - Geoff Powell
- Incidental Music - Keff McCulloch
- Make-Up - Lesley Rawstorne
- OB Cameraman - Alastair Mitchell, John Hawes
- Producer - John Nathan-Turner
- Production Assistant - Joy Sinclair
- Production Associate - Anne Faggetter
- Script Editor - Andrew Cartmel
- Special Sounds - Dick Mills
- Studio Lighting - Henry Barber
- Studio Sound - Brian Clark
- Theme Arrangement - Keff McCulloch
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- Visual Effects - Colin Mapson
Cultural references from real world
- The Seventh Doctor tries the most known outfit of Napoleon from his wardrobe.
- The Rani has abducted Hypatia, Louis Pasteur, and Albert Einstein.
- The Doctor names Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Louis Pasteur, Elvis and Mrs. Malaprop among the Earthling personalities who would not be born if the Rani's plot would be achieved.
- Mel is an admirer of the work of the scientist C. P. Snow, who dealt with thermodynamics.
- The Rani intends to go back to the Cretaceous and save dinosaurs from extinction.
- On Earth, strange matter was discovered by a Princeton physicist in 1984.
- Computers are the speciality of Mel.
- The Rani injects the Doctor with a drug causing amnesia. The Doctor ascribes his state to post-regenerative amnesia. (cfr. TV: Castrovalva et. al.)
Particles and substances
- PHB (a biodegradable substance, possibly derivable from sugar and starch) and PES (polyethersulfone, a petroleum based plastic) are proposed as suitable materials for the machinery of the Rani.
- The recombination of an electron and a positron in photons is mentioned by the Time Brain.
- Gamma rays and helium 2 are expected during the explosion of both a supernova and strange matter.
- Loyhargil is a lightweight substitute for strange matter.
- Chronons are discrete particles of time.
- In the confusion after the regeneration, the Doctor mentions the temporal flicker in sector thirteen, a bicentennial refit of the Tardis to book in, and Centauri VII.
- Tetrapyriarbus is the homeworld of the Tetraps.
- The Doctor's special subject at university was thermodynamics.
- The Rani and the Doctor studied together.
- The Rani is a neurochemist.
- The Doctor states he is in his seventh incarnation.
- The code to open the door was 953, which was the Doctor's age (and the Rani's).
- 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.
- A navigational guidance system distorter was employed by the Rani to attract the Doctor's TARDIS on Lakerteya. It would have worked on any passing spaceship.
- The Rani's traps imprison the victims in flying spheres which explode after landing.
- The Lakertyans are blackmailed with the menace of killer insects.
- The concept of creating a weapon by collecting the minds of all the great thinkers, including the Doctor's, was also used in the unfinished and unbroadcast story HOMEVID: 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 is the first story to feature computer generated images (CGI) for the titles and many of the effects (including the TARDIS' 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 a regeneration sequence. As a result, Sylvester McCoy donned a wig and the Sixth Doctor's costume and briefly appeared 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.
- io9.com ranked the Sixth Doctor's death as the second weakest death in science fiction history.
- 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. In-universe, the wardrobe change was properly explained by reasoning that the Seventh Doctor's character had matured out of his comedic aspects and chose more sophisticated attire.
- 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 PROSE: Spiral Scratch gives the Sixth Doctor a dignified death and negates this possibility.
- 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 non-canonical charity special Dimensions in Time. In canon 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 over-sized 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. The production office never contacted him again.
- 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
- 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 is sliding from hills and sits in a cavelike pipe, yet the seat of her white trousers is 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.
- The Sixth Doctor's final words before his regeneration were "Local...tractor beam..." (PROSE: Spiral Scratch)
- The Rani last appeared in TV: The Mark of the Rani.
- Mel thinks the only reason someone would kidnap the Doctor would be if they needed his help. The Renegade Daleks also kidnapped the Sixth Doctor, needing his help against Davros. (AUDIO: The Juggernauts)
- The final portion of PROSE: Spiral Scratch leads into this story as (paradoxically) does that of Craig Hinton's novel, Time's Champion.
- Albert Einstein would reappear in TV: Death Is the Only Answer.
- Mel says carrot juice is the favourite of the Doctor and he contradicts her. (TV: Terror of the Vervoids)
- During the regeneration, the exercise bike the Sixth Doctor rides in Terror of the Vervoids is visible in the TARDIS control room.
- While trying on clothes, the Seventh Doctor briefly wears the outfits of his fourth, third, and fifth incarnations as well as the fur coat of his second incarnation.
- The Doctor refers to his new regeneration as his 'seventh persona'. This would seem to settle the question of the Doctor having other regenerations before the First Doctor.
- This story gives no on-screen explanation for how the Rani survived being in peril from the dinosaur at the end of TV: The Mark of the Rani. However, in the novelisation, she stated that it had broken its neck on the ceiling of her TARDIS.
Home video and audio 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
- Hot Gossip
- Blue Peter
- Breakfast Time
- Coming Soon Trailer
- Radio Times Billings
- 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.
- Editing for the DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
This story was released on VHS as follows:
- Region 2: July 1995
- Region 1: September 1995
- Region 4: October 1995
- BBC Episode Guide for Time and the Rani
- Time and the Rani at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- A Brief History of Time (Travel): Time and the Rani
- The Locations Guide to Doctor Who - Time and the Rani