Before we tackled The Mark of the Rani, there were some surprises in store for us in the jungle. The first shock came on Friday night when it became clear that Colin Baker couldn’t wait to leave. The second shock arrived on Saturday when Sue saw Colin topless for the first – and hopefully last – time (“He needs Helen’s fake tan more than she does!”), and this was followed by the revelation that the ex-Doctor was in the bottom two when it came to public votes.
Where was fandom when Colin needed you? I bet you didn’t buy ‘Doctor in Distress’, either.
Sue: I’m not that surprised. I mean, he’s done bugger-all, hasn’t he? But he’s 69, so what did you expect? He’s done extremely well just to get this far.
Colin’s fate would be determined on Sunday night. The could survive if he won a bush tucker trial. Would Colin bow out gracefully or would he fight to the bitter end? The only thing missing from Saturday’s cliffhanger was the Doctor Who theme music.
Colin’s opponent on Sunday was Eric Bristow, and when the ex-Darts Champ knew he was up against Colin, he smugly declared that the actor would be the one going home.
Sue: **** you, Bristow.
But there was still hope. Colin and Eric each had to pick a female assistant to help them. Eric chose Colin’s best friend, Rosemary (the swine), so Colin was left with Charlie Brooks. This resulted in the most exciting Doctor Who/EastEnders crossover since Dimensions in Time.
The contestants had to stick their hands into a series of holes full of snakes, spiders, and other assorted critters. At one point, Colin was savaged by a Macra, and Ian Levine is currently editing this sequence into something non-canonical.
Colin’s only hope was Rosemary Shrager, the short-tempered chef with a fan base larger than the ex-Time Lord’s. Yes, I know. While Colin’s plucky assistant, Charlie, did her very best, Rosemary made a pig’s ear of Eric’s chances. Or was that dinner the night before? Either way, she was hopeless.
Sadly, Eric wiped the floor with Colin.
Colin’s fatal mistake was that he took up too much time searching for the stars that would result in meals for the camp, whereas Eric ignored those in favour of the stars needed to survive.
Sue: Colin sacrificed himself for the greater good of the camp. He went out a hero. He’s glad to be leaving. He’s lost loads of weight. He must be chuffed to bits.
Me: He has to spend a week in a luxurious 6-star hotel before he can fly home. I hope he doesn’t pile it back on.
Sue: He’s done very well. He should be proud of himself.
Sue: Pip and Jane Baker?
Me: They’re Doctor Who’s first – and last – husband and wife writing team.
Sue: I bet she comes up with all the ideas and he just writes them down.
The story begins with some miners emerging from a pit.
Sue: It’s outside and it’s on film, which is good. Yes, there’s a ****ing mine in it, but at least it’s a proper mine for a change. Yes, I think I’m going to enjoy this.
As the miners return to their pit village, Sue sings Dvorak’s New World Symphony.
Sue: Where is this? Is it Yorkshire?
Me: Try a bit closer to home.
Me: It’s supposed to be Killingworth, although they shot it in Telford, I think.
Sue: Oh, I know Killingworth, it’s north of Newcastle. Hang on a minute, those accents aren’t right at all.
Sue is a north-east lass, which means this could get rough.
Sue: I couldn’t give a shit because I’m not a proper Geordie. I’d be really upset if I was, though. Why-aye!
The miners converge on the local bath house.
Sue: We had a clothes horse like that. It reminds me of the time the debt man came round and my mam hid behind it. I would have been seven or eight years old at the time, and I had to open the door and tell this strange guy that my mam had gone to the shops. And he said, “Tell her to take her feet with her next time”. It was so embarrassing.
Me: Why-aye, it were reet grim oop north, like, pet.
Sue: Stop it.
The miners are suddenly overcome by noxious fumes.
Sue: Someone is interfering with miners. That can’t be good.
Meanwhile the Doctor and Peri are travelling to Kew Gardens in the TARDIS when they are rudely diverted by a time distortion.
Sue: This isn’t a great look for Peri. I don’t like her hair for a start. No, she doesn’t suit her hair up at all. The dress isn’t exactly flattering, either.
Ha! If she thinks that dress is bad!
Sue: Is the Doctor wearing a different cat brooch on his coat this week?
Me: I’ve told you before, Sue, stop looking at his coat. You’ll go blind.
The TARDIS materialises in Killingworth, thanks to the time distortion. Sue, on the other hand, is more concerned with Peri’s distorted sense of fashion.
Sue: What the hell is she wearing now? Is she trying to be even more garish than the Doctor? Wow. I bet the dads weren’t happy with this after the last couple of costumes. Oh look, she’s wearing the wrong shoes again. Will she go back inside the TARDIS and change them? No? I thought not.
Peri struggles to keep up with the Doctor as he traipses through the mud.
Sue: I have no sympathy for her whatsoever.
They pass a field with a scarecrow standing in it.
Sue: This is where you might end up when you stop playing the Doctor, Colin.
The Doctor and Peri encounter the miners from the bath house, who have suddenly become very surly indeed.
Sue: They sound like they’re from Ashington rather than Killingworth. The further north you go, the more they tend to roll their r’s. This sounds like someone from Yorkshire trying to speak Scottish.
Me: Not genuine, then?
Sue: Let’s put it this way, Colin Baker is the only person using their real accent in this scene.
Hey, you’ll never believe who’s just strolled into town…
Sue: He looks like the Master a bit… Hey, it is the ****ing Master! What’s he doing back?
Me: He disguised himself as a scarecrow. Can you believe it?
Sue: No, I bloody don’t.
Some of the best minds in the country – including Michael Faraday and Humphry Davy – have converged on Killingworth for an important conference.
Sue: So the Master is mucking about with the Industrial Revolution for no readily apparent reason. Okay…
A ‘vicious’ dog menaces the Doctor and Peri.
Sue: Colin is more of a cat person, but he needn’t worry because that dog is as soft as muck. You can tell by its eyes. It might have a bark on it, but it would probably lick you to death before it bit you.
The dog growls at the Doctor.
Sue: I think dogs are supposed to be colour blind, but the Doctor’s coat is still confusing the hell out it, the poor thing.
The Master uses his Tissue Compression Eliminator to shrink and kill the creature.
Sue: Right, that’s a mark off the final score. There was no need for that!
Me: He killed a man as well.
Sue: I’m not bothered about him. Would you show the Master zapping an innocent baby in a cot? It’s the same thing as far as I’m concerned.
The renegade enlists the help of three burly miners, including a man named Jack Ward. Sue is too busy laughing at their accents to follow what they’re saying.
Sue: Young Michael Palin on the left is definitely the worst. Is he having a laugh? “Where is he, dost tha’ know?” Pathetic!
The miners attack the Doctor and he ends up dangling above a pit.
Sue: The one who’s gently tapping the chain with the shovel, what do you think he’s trying to achieve there? This is really badly directed.
Me: It’s directed by a woman.
Sue: Is it? Oh.
Lord Ravensworth manages to save the Doctor in the nick of time.
Sue: He’s famous.
Me: Did you watch Bergerac when it was on?
Sue: Is it set in France?
Me: That’ll be a no, then.
Ravensworth describes all the trouble he’s been having with the working class oiks recently. They keep going berserk and changing their personalities.
Sue: He could be describing the Doctor, there.
Meanwhile the Master comes face to face with the Rani.
Sue: Oh, it’s her. She’s famous, too.
Me: It’s Kate O’Mara.
Sue: Oh yeah, I definitely know her face. What’s she best known for?
Me: Dynasty. But she hasn’t done that yet. At this point she was probably best known for a soap opera set on a cross-channel ferry called Triangle.
Sue: Doesn’t ring a bell.
Me: Lucky you. She was also Colin Baker’s rival in The Brothers. Colin Baker was in The Brothers, you know.
The Rani doesn’t suffer fools gladly, which means the Master is in all sorts of trouble.
Sue: She’s very good. She’s a strong and independent character. I like her.
Luke Ward tells the Doctor that his ‘favver’ hasn’t been right in the head ever since he took a bath.
Sue: (Pointing at Luke) Look at the size of his packet! Blimey, those trousers are tight. Even Terry Wogan would have drawn the line at trousers as tight as that.
The Doctor suddenly decides to mock Peri’s accent.
Sue: She isn’t French, you know! The Doctor should have told Peri to speak with an English accent this week so she could blend in with her surroundings. That way Nicola could have had a week off from that stupid voice.
The Doctor disguises himself as a dirty miner.
Sue: This is a much better look for Colin. Quick! Burn his coat!
When he slaps some mud on his face, I feel duty-bound to inform my wife that Colin accidentally covered himself in dog shit.
Sue: I hope it was the same dog the Master killed.
The Rani mocks the Master’s habit of coming up with badly thought-out plans.
Sue: It is okay if I side with her, isn’t it?
The Doctor follows the miners into the bathhouse and is promptly overcome by the Rani’s gas.
Sue: She should re-open this place as a steam room. It would be a lot less conspicuous for a start.
We learn that the Time Lords exiled the Rani from Gallifrey.
Sue: Gallifrey breeds its fair share of nutters, doesn’t it? Didn’t they realise that exiling her would result in a mess like this? Are they completely stupid?
Peri is surprised to see the Master again, mainly because she thought he was dead.
Sue: So did I!
The Master gets Jack Ward and his surly mates to drop the Doctor’s TARDIS down a mineshaft.
Sue: Who cares? The TARDIS is indestructible. It’s not as if they’ve thrown it into a volcano or anything.
Me: No. You definitely wouldn’t be able to come back from something like that. Not without a bloody good explanation.
When Peri pushes the Doctor’s stretcher away, it begins to roll down a hill.
Sue: My brother did that to me when I was in my pram, once. He was jealous of me, I think. I almost died, but he changed his mind at the last moment and he caught me before I hit traffic.
The Doctor hurtles down the hill on the stretcher.
Sue: It’s turned into Last of the Summer Wine.
And then she bursts into laughter as the Doctor heads straight for the mineshaft. Cue credits.
Sue: That’s was pretty good considering the Master’s in it.
The Doctor is rescued by a famous figure from history.
Sue: I didn’t know George Stephenson was Welsh. I thought he came from Wylam.
Me: I never knew you were an expert on George Stephenson!
The Master turns Luke to the dark side with the help of some maggots.
Sue: Why doesn’t the Master just hypnotise him? He’s never had to feed worms to people to control them before now. That’s a bit crap, isn’t it?
The Rani dispenses with her slaves.
Sue: Poor Josh. He was my favourite character.
The Master notices a mark on Josh’s neck: the mark of the Rani.
Sue: Yes, I know. We get it, thanks.
Sue sighs deeply.
Sue: The sets are wonderful, and the location is very nice, but there’s something missing. I can’t put my finger on it but this is doing nothing for me. I’m bored.
At least she perks up when the Doctor enters the Rani’s TARDIS.
Sue: Now this is what I call a TARDIS! The Doctor must be insanely jealous. I love the big spiny thing in the middle. It’s much nicer than the phallic thing that thrusts up and down in the Doctor’s TARDIS. It looks like she might have had some help from the Daleks when she designed it, though, because there are bumps all over it. Oh, she’s got a cocktail cabinet over there in the corner. That’s cosy.
The Rani enters her ship with the Master in tow.
Sue: Imagine what it would be like if these two got it together and had children.
The Master hopes to steal the results of the Rani’s experiments so he can take over the universe.
Sue: The Master is so incompetent he has to hijack other villain’s plans now? Oh, and how is he still alive?
When the Doctor leaves the Rani’s TARDIS, he points in one direction and departs in the other.
Sue: Hey, that’s Peter Davison’s gimmick! Get your own gimmick!
The Doctor returns to the village and examines Jack Ward.
Sue: He looks like Arthur Fowler after he stole the Christmas club money.
The Doctor deduces that the miners have been robbed of the power of sleep.
Sue: Just show them this story. That will sort them out. I’m definitely feeling drowsy.
Charlie Hungerford offers the Doctor his gun, but the Time Lord refuses.
Sue: He’s changed his tune. Maybe he really is making an effort to change his ways.
Instead the Doctor threatens the Master with his own Tissue Compression Eliminator.
Sue: Well, that didn’t take him very long. I knew he wouldn’t change.
Meanwhile, down in the dell, Luke accidentally sets off one of the Rani’s mines.
Sue: That was a lovely explosion, but the continuity is a joke. There wasn’t a tree in the shot before he was blown up.
A few seconds later, the penny drops.
Me: And you thought the actor playing Luke was wooden before.
Sue: Who designs a mine that turns people into trees? Who wakes up one morning and thinks, I know what I’ll do, I’ll create a mine that turns people into ****ing trees! What would be the ****ing point?
Luke manages to save Peri from succumbing to a similar fate, even though he’s currently a… you know… tree.
Sue: Oh. My. God. I’ve heard of tree hugging but this is ridiculous. This has turned into a pantomime now. A weird pantomime set in a forest, made by students.
Meanwhile the Master and the Rani are embroiled in an argument about morality.
Sue: Oh, for God’s sake, get a room!
The Doctor entrusts Peri to take care of the Rani and the Master.
Sue: Is he taking the piss? Peri against two Time Lords? How long do you think she’ll last?
A few minutes later Peri is overcome by fairy dust.
Sue: What a surprise. Peri is being written as a complete idiot.
The Doctor is captured by some angry miners who tie him to a pole and carry him back to the dell. However, one of them steps on a mine and… Oops!
Sue: That is the stupidest thing I have ever seen in Doctor Who.
The Doctor escapes from the minefield with the aid of a stick.
Sue: What does wood turn into if he touches a mine with it? Will he end up holding a severed arm?
The Rani and the Master escape in her TARDIS, but the Doctor has sabotaged it and they end up hurtling towards the most primitive reaches of the cosmos.
Sue: They’ll be fine once the Master agrees that the Rani is the one wearing the trousers in that relationship.
Me: And very nice trousers they are, too.
Sue: Leave the fashion comments to me, love.
Not only has the Doctor fiddled with the Rani’s brakes, her ornamental dinosaur foetuses are coming to life as well.
Sue: Why did she decorate her TARDIS with dinosaur babies in the first place? Whatever happened to some nice pot plants?
As the Doctor and Peri prepare to leave, Lord Ravensworth wants to know what he and his companion get up to that strange box of theirs.
The Doctor: Argue, mainly.
Sue: That was the best line in the whole story.
The TARDIS dematerialises and the credits roll.
Sue: I bet we never find out how they escaped from those dinosaurs. They just will.
Sue: What a mess. Why was the Master even in that? The Rani would have been much better off on her own. The Master got in the way. There were too many characters and none of them seemed to connect to anything. What was George Stephenson’s role in that story, exactly? What was the actual point of him? Yes, it looked nice – the location was lovely – but the direction was flat and the script was appalling. I still like Colin, though.
Me: So what mark are you going to give it?
Sue: Let’s see… One mark off for the dead dog, one mark off for the Master, one mark off for the direction and another mark off for the accents. A mark off for completely wasting George Stephenson, and another mark off for the bloody trees. Where does that leave us?
Me: Four out of 10.
Sue: Knock another mark off for being boring.
Sue: We’ve watched four Colin Baker stories now. I can’t believe we’re halfway through his Doctor already. This is so easy!