Doctor Who thrives on change and renewal, sometimes because an actor or writer or producer has left for pastures new, sometimes for a sadder reason, the death of an actor.
When Kate O’Mara passed away in March 2014, she was in negotiations to reprise her role as The Rani – scripts had been worked on, and then, tragically she passed away. Her agent contacted Big Finish and said that they had Kate’s blessing to recast The Rani, and so The Rani Elite was back in production.
But who could take over the role from the iconic Kate? The name Siobhan Redmond probably wasn’t on many fans lists as possible new Rani’s – but sometimes things are just right, and in this case the casting is inspired – Siobhan Redmond is superb.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
Now then dear reader, episode one is free, download it HERE and have a listen.
All downloaded, IPoded (is that a word?) and listened? Good, then I will continue…
As you will have heard, The Doctor and Peri arrive at CAGE, a prestigious University where The Doctor is being awarded an honorary degree in Moral Philosophy. The Doctor smells a rat and begins to investigate – students are having complete personality changes for no apparent reason and it all seems linked to Professor Baxton, in reality a new regeneration of The Rani.
So, what is she like? Different than Kate O’Mara, not camp or arch, but recognisably still The Rani, charming, sultry and calculating, utterly in control and utterly amoral and very very dangerous. She IS The Rani.
As the plot progresses we discover that she was actually expecting the Seventh Doctor, and she muses with glee over how she will eventually cause Old Sixie’s regeneration.
The plot is very dense and complex, and uses AGAIN the much overused Big Finish trope of a Mindscape/Matrix/Virtual Reality – it works in the context of the plot, but we are seeing it very often (2 out of the three last stories).
Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are just fab, but really the show stopper is Siobhan Redmond, a great new start for The Rani and a fitting tribute to the much missed Kate O’Mara and the character she brought life to. I hear that The Rani will be making a return in the next year or so and my breath is duly bated for this rematch.
Not quite Elite, but definitely Dangerous or Even Deadly (1980’s gamers will get the reference) 8/10.
Written by Ed Watkinson
The TARDIS arrives in the CAGE – not a trap, but the College of Advanced Galactic Education, one of the most prestigious academic institutions in colonised space.
Not a trap. Or is it?
The Doctor’s here to receive an honorary degree in Moral Philosophy. But there’s something rotten at the heart of the Medical Facility. Someone is operating on the students. Someone without a conscience. Someone with access to a Sidelian Brain Scanner – a technology that hasn’t been invented yet.
That someone is the ruthless Time Lord scientist known as the Rani – in her new incarnation. But will the Doctor and Peri recognise the Rani’s hand before her trap is sprung?
Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Siobhan Redmond (The Rani), Andrew Bone (Vice Chancellor), Becky Wright (Lizzo), Mike Noble (Miklev), Charlie Morton (Reev)
Written By: Justin Richards
Directed By: Ken Bentley