Time and the Rani

Time and the Rani is the first serial of the 24th season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 7 to 28 September 1987. It was the first to feature Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor, who regenerates from the Sixth Doctor at the start of the story after Colin Baker was dismissed from the role.

144[1] Time and the Rani
Doctor Who serial
The Doctor uncovers a plan to kidnap Earth's geniuses
Directed byAndrew Morgan
Written byPip and Jane Baker
Script editorAndrew Cartmel
Produced byJohn Nathan-Turner
Incidental music composerKeff McCulloch
Production code7D
SeriesSeason 24
Length4 episodes, 25 minutes each
First broadcast7 September 1987 (1987-09-07)
Last broadcast28 September 1987 (1987-09-28)
 Preceded by
The Trial of a Time Lord: The Ultimate Foe
Followed by 
Paradise Towers

In the serial, the alien time traveller the Rani (Kate O'Mara) brings the greatest geniuses from time and space to her laboratory on the planet Lakertya so she can use their minds to power her time manipulator.


Whilst in flight, the TARDIS is attacked by the Rani, an amoral scientist and renegade Time Lord. The TARDIS crash-lands on the planet Lakertya. On the floor of the console room, the Sixth Doctor regenerates into the Seventh Doctor. In his post-regenerative confusion the Doctor is separated from Mel and tricked into assisting the Rani in her megalomaniac scheme to construct a giant time manipulator. Lost on the barren surface of the planet, Mel has to avoid the Rani's ingenious traps and her monstrous, bat-like servants, the Tetraps. She joins forces with a rebel faction among the Lakertyans, desperate to end the Rani's control of their planet. The Doctor must recover his wits in time to avoid becoming a permanent part of the Rani's plan to collect the genius of the greatest scientific minds in the universe, of which she has captured many including Albert Einstein, in order that she can create a time manipulator, which would allow the Rani to control time anywhere in the universe, at the expense of all life on Lakertya. The Doctor manages to foil her plan and free the Lakertyans of her evil control. The Rani escapes in her TARDIS, but it has been commandeered by the Tetraps, who take her prisoner. The Doctor takes all the captured geniuses on board his TARDIS so that he can return them home.


This story's working title was Strange Matter.[2]

Cast notes

Wanda Ventham and Donald Pickering previously appeared together in The Faceless Ones.[3] Donald Pickering also appeared in The Keys of Marinus. Wanda Ventham also appeared in Image of the Fendahl.

Broadcast and reception

EpisodeTitleRun timeOriginal air dateUK viewers
1"Part One"24:447 September 1987 (1987-09-07)5.1
2"Part Two"24:3614 September 1987 (1987-09-14)4.2
3"Part Three"24:2321 September 1987 (1987-09-21)4.3
4"Part Four"24:3828 September 1987 (1987-09-28)4.9

Reviewing Time and the Rani, Tat Wood criticised the story's dialogue and plot, but praised the direction as "visually impressive".[5] A 2014 poll held by Doctor Who Magazine ranked Time and the Rani as the third worst story in the show's run, behind only "Fear Her" and The Twin Dilemma.[6]

Script editor Andrew Cartmel has said that there were many things he disliked about the script which lacked depth, "This was a story which wasn't about anything—and, frustratingly, it was Sylvester McCoy’s debut."[7]

Commercial releases

In print

Time and the Rani
AuthorPip and Jane Baker
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
128 (initial printings erroneously have it numbered 127)
PublisherTarget Books
Publication date
December 1987 (Hardback) 5 May 1988 (Paperback)

A novelisation of this serial, written by Pip and Jane Baker, was published by Target Books in December 1987. The novel features a longer finale for the Sixth Doctor (and reveals that the regeneration into the Seventh Doctor was caused by "tumultuous buffeting" when the Rani attacked the TARDIS), while the Tetraps seem to speak English backwards.

Home media

Time and the Rani was released on VHS by BBC Worldwide in July 1995. It was released on region 2 DVD on 13 September 2010, and on region one DVD on 14 June 2011. This serial was also released as part of the Doctor Who DVD Files in Issue 99 on 17 October 2012.


  1. From the Doctor Who Magazine series overview, in issue 407 (pp26-29). The Discontinuity Guide, which counts the four segments of The Trial of a Time Lord as four separate stories and also counts the unbroadcast serial Shada, lists this story as number 148. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. Pixley, Andrew (14 April 1993). "Fact File". Doctor Who Magazine. No. 198. Marvel Comics UK Ltd. p. 26. ISSN 0957-9818.
  3. "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - The Faceless Ones - Details". www.bbc.co.uk.
  4. "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  5. Wood, Tat (2007). About Time 6: Seasons 22 to 26 and TV Movie. Illinois: Mad Norwegian Press. pp. 165–180. ISBN 0-975944-65-7.
  6. Doctor Who Magazine Issue 474
  7. "New Left Project - Doctor Who - Fifty Years of Nasty Things and Groovy Monsters". www.newleftproject.org.

Target novelisation

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