Tuesday 21 August 2012

637 The Mark of the Rani Part One

EPISODE: The Mark of the Rani Part One
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 02 February 1985
WRITER: Pip & Jane Baker
DIRECTOR: Sarah Hellings
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 6.3 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Mark of the Rani

In the village of Killingworth miners emerge from their shift and go to the bath house where they are gassed. The Tardis is dragged off course by a distortion caused by another time machine and lands near Killingworth instead of Kew Gardens as the miners awake and turn violently on each other and their fellows, damaging machinery meant for the pit. The Doctor stops to help an attacked man and notices one of the miners has a strange mark on his neck. The Doctor learns that George Stephenson is nearby and goes to find him, but they are observed by a scarecrow that has left it's post and is following them. More miners come to the bath house and are admitted by the old woman that runs it. The Scarecrow arrives and sheds his disguise revealing himself as the Master. The Doctor is refused entry to the pit and learns that a gathering of scientific geniuses of the age is being organised there. The Doctor & Peri are caught with more aggressive miners but are saved by pit owner Lord Ravensworth. Ravensworth tells them of sudden aggression and attacks from his miners. In a secret room behind the bathhouse the old woman attaches futuristic equipment to two prone miners when the Master intrudes on the scene exposing the woman as the Time Lady The Rani. She is harvesting a chemical from the human brain which as a side effect makes the subject violent. The Master coerces her to work with him telling her the Doctor will spoil her scheme. The Doctor discovers that the men went to the bathhouse and disguises himself to visit it. He is gassed with the other visitors. The Master coerces miners into seizing the Doctor's Tardis for him and taking it down the pit. The Doctor awakens and recognises the Rani. She leaves him guarded in the bath house and Peri comes to rescue him but is apprehended by The Rani & The Master. The Doctor is taken outside while tied to a trolley as the Miners approach with the Tardis which they tip down the pit. The trolley the Doctor is on runs away out of control, but is grabbed by miners who propel it towards the open pit shaft.....

That's not a bad episode of Doctor Who and certainly the most traditional Doctor Who episode for sometime. Ok the Tardis is dragged off course again which is starting to really annoy me now but ...... There's nothing wrong with that that getting rid of Peri's awful yellow top won't fix!

Writers Pip & Jane Baker were a husband & wife team new to Doctor Who but with an extensive television writing CV between them. They were heavily involved in the writer's guild at the time and their presence around the Doctor Who office may help to explain why Attack of the Cybermen went out under a pseudonym then Revelation of the Daleks was written in a break in Script Editor Eric Saward's contract. Director Sarah Hellings, on her first and only Doctor Who outing, chose to film most of the location sequences for this story in Ironbridge in Shropshire, a historic location with preserved buildings matching the style the story required. An error made by the BBC gave them 2 weeks location filming rather than one so quite a bit of this story ends up filmed outdoors.

The sequence where the Doctor smears mud on his face didn't go quite as planned. Fuller's Earth was provided for Colin Baker to stick his hands in and rub over his face. Unfortunately between it being laid and filming taking place a local dog decided to relieve itself on the nice clean soil and ....

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