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 the ideas and he just writes them down.
The story begins with some miners emerging from a pit.
Sue: It’s outside. It’s on film. It’s good. There’s a bloody mine in it, but at least it’s a proper mine for a change. I think I’m going to like this.
As the miners stroll back to their village, Sue sings Dvorak’s New World Symphony at them.
Sue: Where is this set? 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. This could get rough.
Sue: I couldn’t give a shit. I’m not a Geordie. I’d be upset if I was, though. I think it’s funny. Why-aye!
The miners march to the local bath house.
Sue: We had a clothes horse like that. It reminds me of the time the debt man came visited and me Mam decided to hide behind it. I would have been seven or eight, and I had to open the door and tell this strange man that my Mam had gone to the shops and he said, “Tell her to take her feet with her the next time she goes out”. It was embarrassing.
Me: Why-aye, it were reet grim oop North, like, pet.
Sue: Stop it.
The miners are suddenly overcome by noxious fumes.
Sue: Somebody is interfering with miners. That can’t be good.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Peri are taking the TARDIS to Kew Gardens when they are diverted by a time distortion.
Sue: That isn’t a great look for Peri. I don’t like her hair. 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 on his coat this week?
Me: I’ve told you before, stop looking at his coat. You’ll go blind.
The TARDIS arrives in Killingworth in search of the time distortion. Sue is more concerned with Peri’s distorted sense of fashion.
Sue: What the hell is she wearing now? Is she trying to be 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 so she can change them? No? I thought not.
Peri struggles to follow the Doctor through the mud.
Sue: I have no sympathy for her whatsoever.
When the miners emerge from the bath house, they quick run amok. They attack an innocent man’s potatoes.
Sue: This will be the Bigg Market in 200 years.
The Doctor and Peri walk past a field with a scarecrow in it.
Sue: This is where you might end up if you stop playing the Doctor, Colin.
The Doctor and Peri encounter the surly miners as they attack a man driving a horse and cart.
Sue: They sound more Ashington than Killingworth. The further north you go, the more you tend to roll your r’s. It’s an amusing attempt but it sounds like some from Yorkshire trying to speak Scottish.
Me: Not genuine, then?
Sue: Let’s put it this way, Colin is the only person speaking with their real accent in this scene.
You’ll never believe who strolls into town.
Sue: He looks like the Master a bit… Hey! It is the ****ing Master! What’s he doing back? Oh no, and it was going so well.
Me: The Master disguised himself as a scarecrow. Can you believe it?
Sue: No, I don’t. You’re just being silly, now.
The Doctor arrives at the pit yard but a guard keeps him at bay.
Sue: His accent is more authentic. He was definitely born north of Watford.
Some of the best minds in the country – including Michael Faraday and Humphry Davy – are heading to Killingworth for an important meeting.
Sue: So the Master is mucking about with the Industrial Revolution for no readily apparent reason. Okay, I think I’ve got it.
The Doctor and Peri find themselves in the company of a “vicious” dog.
Sue: Colin’s more of a cat person but he needn’t be worried. That dog is as soft as muck. You can tell by looking at its eyes. It might have a bark on it buy it would probably lick you to death before it ever bit you.
Even so, the dog still growls at the Doctor.
Sue: I think dogs are colour blind, but the Doctor’s coat is still confusing the hell out him, poor thing.
The Master uses his Tissue Compression Eliminator to kill the dog. Yes, the Master’s weapon finally lives up to its name!
Sue: Right, that’s a mark off my 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 Master enlists the help of three surely miners, including a man named Jack Ward. Sue is laughing too much at their accents to follow what they’re saying.
Sue: Young Michael Palin on the left is the worst. Is he having a laugh? “Where is he, dost tha know?” Pathetic.
These miners attack the Doctor and he ends up dangling above a pit.
Sue: The one gently tapping the chain with the shovel, what do you think he’s trying to achieve? This is really badly directed.
Me: It’s directed by a woman.
Sue: Is it? Shit. Bang goes my theory about getting women to work on the show.
The Doctor is saved in the nick of time by Lord Ravensworth.
Sue: He’s famous.
Me: Did you watch Bergerac when it was on?
Sue: Is that the one set in France?
Me: That would be a ‘No’, then.
Lord Ravensworth gives the Doctor the once over.
Ravensworth: Well, you’ve certainly never done a day’s labour in your life, and I suppose it is possible you might even be a gentleman.
Sue: Posh git.
Ravensworth describes some the trouble he’s been having with the working class oiks recently.
Ravensworth: They become savage, go berserk, seem to suffer a complete change of personality.
Sue: He could be describing the Doctor.
The Master burns his way into the bath house.
Sue: Why does the Master have the coolest gadgets all of a sudden? And why is he still alive?
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 the face. What is 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: That doesn’t ring a bell. Sorry.
Me: Triangle was one of the posh channels, so you won’t have seen it. 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, and that goes double for the Master.
Sue: I like her. She’s very good. A strong and independent character. I like it.
The Rani is extracting chemicals from the miners’ brains.
The Rani: The aggression is an unfortunate side effect.
The Master: Unfortunate? Fortuitous would be a more apposite epithet.
Luke Ward tells the Doctor how his favver hasn’t been right ever since he had a bath.
Sue: Look at the size of his packet! Blimey, those trousers are tight.
That screen grab on the right still makes me chuckle.
Sue: Even Terry Wogan would have drawn the line at wearing a pair of trousers that tight.
The Doctor decides to mock Peri’s accent.
The Doctor: I am about to follow what you would term as a hunch.
Sue: Hurnch? Hurnch? She’s not French, you know! The Doctor should have told Peri to speak with an English accent this week, so she’d blend in with her surroundings. That way, Nicola could have had a week off from talking with that silly voice.
The Doctor disguises himself as a dirty miner.
Sue: This is a much better look for Colin. Quick! Burn his coat!
The Doctor slaps some mud on his face. I feel duty-bound to tell Sue that Colin accidentally covered himself in dog shit.
Sue: Was it the same dog the Master killed? There is no justice in the world.
The Rani mocks the Master’s propensity for stupid, badly thought-out plans.
The Rani: It’ll be something devious and overcomplicated. He’d get dizzy if he tried to walk in a straight line.
Sue: It is okay to side with her, isn’t it?
The Doctor follows the miners into the bath house and he is overcome by the Rani’s gas.
Sue: She should advertise this place as a steam room. It would be a lot less conspicuous.
When the Doctor wakes up, he is tied to the Rani’s table. He recognises her immediately.
The Rani: You were expecting to see the Master?
The Doctor: Not exactly. He was burnt to a crisp the last time I saw him.
Sue: Yeah, how did he get out of that, exactly?
The Rani admits to interfering with Earth’s history.
Sue: Was she responsible for all the football hooligans in the 1980s?
The Rani was exiled by the Time Lords.
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.
Peri: I thought he was dead.
Sue: So did I! So, how did he escape, then? It’s really bugging me, now.
The Rani spares Peri’s life.
Sue: Kate O’Mara is very orange. And I thought Helen Flanagan had gone overboard with the fake tan.
The Master claims he will miss the Doctor when he’s gone.
The Master: You are indeed a worthy opponent. It’s what gives your destruction its piquancy.
Sue: Does anyone really talk like that?
The Master has arranged for Jack Ward and his surly mates to drop the Doctor’s TARDIS into a mine shaft.
Sue: So what? I thought the TARDIS was supposed to be indestructible. It’s not as if they’ve thrown it into a volcano.
Me: No. You definitely wouldn’t be able to come back from something like that. Not without a bloody good explanation.
Peri pushes the Doctor’s stretcher away from the Master, but it starts to roll down a hill.
Sue: Gary did that to me when I was in my pram, once. He was jealous of me, I think. I almost died me but he changed his mind at the last moment and he chased after me before I hit any traffic.
The Doctor hurtles down a hill on a stretcher.
Sue: It’s turned into Last of the Summer Wine.
Jack: Away we go!
Sue bursts into laughter, and then the episode concludes with the Doctor heading towards the mine shaft.
Sue: That’s was pretty good. Considering the Master’s in it, it wasn’t bad at all.
Sue: What kind of name is the Rani?
Me: It’s Urdu.
Sue: Is it Urdu for ‘Bitch’?
Me: No, it means Queen or Mistress.
Sue: Close enough.
The Doctor is saved by a famous figure from history.
Sue: I never knew that George Stephenson was Welsh. I thought he came from Wylam.
Me: Hark at the George Stephenson expert over there.
Luke tells Peri all about his favver’s strange behaviour.
Sue: He got a massive love bite, pet. It really is the Bigg Market out there.
If you don’t know the North East that well, trust me, that was hilarious.
The Master turns Luke to the Dark Side with the help of some maggots.
Sue: Why doesn’t he just hypnotise him? He’s never had to feed worms to people to control them before. That’s a bit crap.
The Master convinces the Rani to rule the Earth with him, even though she already has a planet of her own.
Sue: You can never run too many planets, that’s what I always say.
The Rani dispenses with her slaves.
Sue: Poor Josh. He was my favourite character.
The Master notices the mark on Josh’s neck.
The Master: 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.
After some fannying around with mustard gas (“They let it escape into the street where it can kill everybody else. Clever.”), but she does perk up when the Doctor enters the Rani’s TARDIS.
Sue: Now this is what I call a TARDIS! The Doctor must be insanely jealous. All you need is a woman’s touch. I love the big spiny thing in the middle, it’s much nicer than the phallic thing that thrusts up and down on his. It looks like she might have had some help from the Daleks when she designed it, there are bumps all over it. Oh look, she’s even got a cocktail cabinet in the corner. That’s cosy.
The Rani enter hers ship with the Master in tow.
Sue: Imagine what would it would be like if these two ever got it together and had children.
Me: Do I have to?
The Master plans to use the results of the Rani’s experiments to take over the universe.
Sue: So the Master is basically jumping on the Rani’s bandwagon. He’s so incompetent he has to hijack other villain’s plans, now. He really is useless. Why is he still alive?
When the Doctor leaves the Rani’s TARDIS, he points in one direction and follows the other.
Sue: Hey! That’s Peter Davison’s gimmick! Get your own gimmick!
When the Doctor returns to the village he examines Jack Ward.
Sue: He looks like Arthur Fowler after he stole all the Christmas money.
The Doctor: They’ve been robbed of the power of sleep.
Sue: Just show him this story. That will sort them out. I’m definitely feeling drowsy.
Charlie Hungerford offers the Doctor the use of his gun, but the Time Lord declines.
Sue: He’s changed his tune. Maybe he is making an effort to change after all.
The Doctor reaches the deadly dell of doom.
The Doctor: Doesn’t feel right.
Sue: I know what you mean, Colin. There’s something missing from this story. A spark of something. I can’t put my finger on it.
The Doctor threatens the Master with his own TCE.
Sue: It didn’t take him very long before he brandished another weapon. I knew he wouldn’t change.
Meanwhile, down in the dell, Luke sets off one of the Rani’s mines.
Sue: Nice explosion, but the continuity is a joke. That tree wasn’t in shot before he blew up.
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 trees. What would be the point?
Even though Luke is now a tree, he still manages to save Peri from suffering a similar fate.
Sue: Oh. My. God. I’ve heard of tree hugging but this is ridiculous. It’s turned into a pantomime. A weird pantomime in a forest. Made by students.
Sue has lost all patience.
Sue: This is what happens when man and wife work together. It’s shit.
The Rani leads Peri safely out of the minefield. At one point, she tells the Doctor’s companion to jump.
Sue: Why does she have to jump? She could walk around it! You can see it. It’s right there. Look!
The Master and the Rani argue about morality.
Sue: Get a room!
The Doctor entrusts Peri to look after the Rani and the Master for him.
Sue: Is he taking the piss? Peri against two Time Lords? How long do you think she’ll last?
Minutes later, Peri is overcome by fairy dust.
Sue: What a surprise. Peri is being written as an idiot.
The Doctor is captured by angry miners. They tie him to a pole and carry him back to the dell. And then… Oops!
Sue: That is the stupidest thing I have ever seen in Doctor Who. Ever. I like wood, I really do, but this is putting me right off.
The Doctor escapes from the minefield with the help of a stick.
Sue: What does wood turn into if he touches a mine with it? Will the Doctor find himself holding a severed arm?
The Rani and the Master escape in her TARDIS, but the Doctor has sabotaged it. They are heading for the most primitive reaches of the universe.
The Doctor: Hardly the setting for a harmonious relationship.
Sue: I don’t know. I think they’ll be alright when the Master admits to himself that the Rani is the one wearing the trousers.
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 dinosaur fetuses are growing as well.
Sue: Why did she decorate her TARDIS with dinosaur babies in the first place? What happened to some nice pot plants?
The Doctor’s TARDIS has been retrieved from the pit. It took 40 men to get it out.
Sue: Now that I wanted to see.
The Doctor and Peri prepare to leave. Lord Ravensworth wants to know what the Doctor and his companion do in their strange box.
The Doctor: Argue, mainly.
Sue: That was the best line in the whole story.
The TARDIS dematerialises.
Ravensworth: Where’ve they gone?
Stephenson: Where indeed? You know, I always said he was a strange sort of fellow.
Sue: And now they’ve ruined it.
The credits roll.
Sue: I bet we never find out how they escaped from those dinosaurs. I feel cheated.
Sue: What a mess. Why was the Master in it? The Rani would have been better off on her own. He just got in the way. There were too many characters and none of them seemed to connect. What was George Stephenson’s role in that story, exactly? What was the point? 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 are you going to give it?
Sue: Let’s see… One mark off for the dead dog, one mark off for the Master, another mark off for the direction and another for the accents. A mark off for completely wasting George Stephenson and another mark off for the trees. Where does that leave us?
Sue: Knock off one more for being boring.
Sue: We’ve done four Colin Baker stories. I can’t believe we’re already half-way through his Doctor. This is easy.