The Rani: renegade Time Lord, scientist, megalomaniac. The creation of Pip and Jane Baker, she appeared in two full Doctor Who adventures: The Mark of the Rani with the sixth Doctor and Peri, and again in Time and the Rani with the seventh Doctor and Mel, and then in an awful Children in Need sketch with an EastEnders crossover. Yes, it’s as terrible as it sounds, but it’s great to see Kate O’Mara chewing the scenery. Sadly she died last year, but the Rani is being played on Big Finish Audio Dramas by Siobhan Redmond. I absolutely love her, and I would love her to return- something ruled out by Steven Moffat in 2012.
I love the Rani because her view of life is the antithesis of the Doctor’s. The Doctor is prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to preserve not only human life, but also alien life forms- for example in the episode Unquiet Dead, where the nineth Doctor and Rose argue over the sacrifice of Gwynneth in order to save the Gelth. The Rani views all forms of life as a collection of specimens to experiment on; in The Mark of the Rani she is extracting the chemical required to create sleep from humans, and in Time and the Rani she is attempting to control time, having enslaved an alien life form called the Teletraps to further her plans.
The Rani had absolutely no time for sides. She is completely amoral. Pip and Jane Baker didn’t write her a back story, explaining a trauma that made her this way; she isn’t looking for political power; she simply wants to carry out her experiments. In a television culture which wants all women to be nurturers or twisted and evil, this is a refreshing change.
The Rani works alone. She is joined by the Master in Mark of the Rani, but they are not comrades; in Time and the Rani she has minions, but not companions. In Dimensions in Time she has an assistant called Cyrian, played by Samuel West, but his role is mainly so that she can explain her plan quickly. She has no need for other people, for their approval or opinions.
The Rani, as a Time Lord, can regenerate. I do hope that the Master’s regeneration as Missy will not discount a return of the Rani, or in fact a woman Doctor, in the future.