Bring Back The Rani
Guest contributor Harry Beckett wants to see the return of the renegade Time Lady.
A woman sunbathes half-naked on the deck of a ship; in quite clearly subzero conditions – well the scene in question was shot in the North Sea – as the camera pans away from the boat. A woman hangs upside down, screaming in vexation, companied by four-eyed bat-like creatures. These are just two highlights from Kate O’Mara’s lustrous career. One is from the title sequence of the dynamic TV series, Triangle, of which O’Mara starred in, and the other is from Time and the Rani, an eternally derided episode of 80s Doctor Who. But let’s not go inquire to closely into Triangle (you will regret it) and concentrate on Kate O’Mara’s wonderful performance as the Rani, star of only two canonical Doctor Who stories (and Dimensions in Time although we’ll just refer to it as satanic nonsense from now on).
The character of the Rani is perhaps my favourite classic villain, topping even the devilishly handsome (just look at that beard) Master. Her Machiavellian personality and sheer doggedness in achieving scientific results made her a formidable foe and a person who you would not want to cross paths with. Kate O’Mara didn’t only just portray the character well; she looked exactly how an evil Time Lady should appear. Imagine someone took away Romana’s brand new puppy and killed it, then what would emerge would look something like the Rani. O’Mara had a prepossessing sense of evil about her, a seductive look that could be both a sneer and a flirtatious smile. It’s impossible to pinpoint exactly and explain but hopefully a few of the non-bemused readers will understand.
Now I would absolutely kill for the Rani to return. I would give tremendous amounts of blood for her to crop up in a Peter Capaldi-fronted episode and I’ve already got a DIY list of who I want to play her. It comprises of Ruthie Henshall, Joanna Lumley, Ruth Wilson and Juliet Aubrey: four hugely talented actresses and some of the best performers on our TVs to date. I feel that any of them could successfully reinvent the fiendish Time Lady but I’d probably push Ruth Wilson the most, purely because of her stellar performance in Luther. Wilson played volatile serial killer, and the eponymous policeman’s best friend, Alice Morgan, soon after becoming the nation’s favourite murderer. A lot of fans of Luther wanted to her to receive a spin-off programme and although news of one hasn’t emerged Ruth Wilson has still become a very in-demand actress. I feel though that narcissistic killers are certainly her forte and what is the Rani? Just that. Wilson would be absolutely perfect, so I urge Steven Moffat to choose her, which leads us onto our next problem.
“People always ask me “Do you want to bring back the Rani?” No one knows who the Rani is. They all know who the Master is, they know Daleks, they probably know who Davros is, but they don’t know who the Rani is, so there’s no point in bringing her back. If there’s a line it’s probably somewhere there.”
Those are three sentences that make my blood boil, spoken by Steven Moffat in an interview with SFX last year. He managed to single-handedly rule out the return of my favorite villainess and speak volumes as a hypocrite. I’m not going to go on about this, strictly speaking I love Moffat but here I have to draw the line, much like he said he would. He talked about how he refused to bring back old characters like the Krotons and the Meddling Monk because they would be lost on casual viewers. Apparently younger fans, or those who tune in each week with only a vague knowledge of the show, would get confused if the Rani appeared and the Doctor started babbling on about how they’ve met before. This is the man who reintroduced the Great Intelligence, months after saying “no one knows who the Rani is”. When I watched The Snowmen I had to Google the Great Intelligence just to pick up on what the hullaballoo was all about. The Great Intelligence featured well before the Rani in fewer stories than she did. Surely the GI would be lost on casual viewers much more than the Rani, especially if you include his Series Seven: Part Two-long arc. I don’t want to rant but I feel this statement last year was absolute poppycock and although I normally hold the great and powerful Moff in high esteem, I’m going against him on this point.
Steven Moffat has asserted that we won’t be seeing the Rani any time soon but we must think to the future. If our current showrunner leaves at the end of Series Eight then we’ll have a brand new ringmaster to reintroduce Kate O’Mara’s guileful baddie. But then again he could contradict himself and bring her back but who knows, only time will tell.
Ruth Wilson, Joanna Lumley, Juliet Aubrey and Ruthie Henshall, three splendid actresses that I feel are capable to carrying on Kate O’Mara’s mantle. But each to their own; these are my choices. Who would you choose to portray the Rani if she were to return? And if you have just read an article to which you have no clue to who the writer is prattling on about then I urge you to research the Rani. I’d suggest The Mark of the Rani or, begrudgingly, Time and the Rani. But steer clear of satanic nonsense; you certainly don’t want to go down that tommyrotten path. For reading materials download Richelle Mead’s brand new fiftieth anniversary e-book, Something Borrowed (I think I just gave away a pretty big plot spoiler – whoops) or even classic novel State of Change. Whichever way you go about finding out more about the Rani think about ways she could be reintroduced because she is, to me, a crucial part of Doctor Who that deserves to be back for the show’s fiftieth year.