‘THE RANI ELITE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The New Rani with the Sixth Doctor and Peri
Can Sixy and Peri defeat Siobhán Redmond’s Rani in this audio adventure? 😀
Big Finish had planned to do a Sixth Doctor and Peri story that featured the return of the Rani, meaning that Kate O’Mara would’ve reprised her villainous ‘Doctor Who’ role in 2014. That would’ve been nice to hear and Kate O’Mara had agreed to return to the role when she’d been first invited. 🙂
Sadly, Kate O’Mara passed away on the 30th of March 2014 which was a huge blow for ‘Doctor Who’ fans who loved her performance as the Rani. 😦 Thankfully, before her death, Kate O’Mara gave her blessing to Big Finish that they could continue with their Rani story by recasting the villainous role. 🙂
Thus we have the first ‘Doctor Who’ audio story to feature a new incarnation of the Rani, played by Scottish actress Siobhán Redmond. I have heard Siobhán play the Rani in her second ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘Planet of the Rani’ before this, but it’s always nice to find out how she began as the Rani here.
The Rani is a fascinating Time Lord character created by Pip and Jane Baker for their ‘Doctor Who’ TV adventure called ‘The Mark of the Rani’. Since then, the Rani has appeared in more ‘Doctor Who’ tales, including ‘Time and the Rani’ with the Seventh Doctor and the infamous ‘Dimensions In Time’.
Kate O’Mara also reprised her role of the Rani in the BBV audio story ‘The Rani Reaps the Whirlwind’, which I’ve yet to hear. The Rani was also in the Puffin e-short story called ‘Something Borrowed’, starring the Sixth Doctor and Peri that was to celebrate 50 years of the TV show’s history.
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the Rani as a Time Lord character but I do find her more impressive than Michelle Gomez’s Missy in the TV series. Incidentally, around the time of ‘The Rani Elite’s release, Michelle Gomez’s Missy had been introduced in ‘Dark Water’/’Death In Heaven’ a month before this.
So, how do Colin Baker’s Doctor and Nicola Bryant’s Peri meet Siobhán Redmond’s Rani for the first time? Well, it starts off when the Doctor and Peri visit the College of Advanced Galactic Education…simply known as the CAGE. It’s one of the most prestigious space academic institutions.
By the way, ‘The Rani Elite’ is a four-part adventure by Justin Richards, who has been a regular contributor to ‘Doctor Who’ in various books and stories over the years. I like Justin Richards’ writing. Even if it can be hit or miss sometimes, there’s no denying that he has a love for the show. 🙂
In the story, the Doctor is expecting to receive an honorary degree in Moral Philosophy. But it turns out to be a trap. There’s something rotten at the heart of the college’s medical facility. Someone is operating on the students. Someone who has no conscience, but access to a ‘Sidelian Brain Scanner’!
Peri and the Doctor soon discover that it’s the Rani, who has recently regenerated. Will they be able to undo the terrible experiments she’s performed on the students and perhaps save the college itself? They need all the help they can get, especially with those who know about the college well. 😐
It was intriguing to discover that many elements of this story were apparently inspired by the cancelled Rani story called ‘Network’. That story would’ve been for the TV series by Ben Aaronovitch and Marc Platt. It would’ve been shown beyond ‘Survival’ had the show not been cancelled by then.
I like the college/university setting, especially since I’ve been to a sixth-form college and a university campus in the late 2000s. I was able to identify the setting in the audio realm. I also like how the build-up to the Rani’s reveal is handled, especially in the traditional fashion at the end of ‘Part One’.
Siobhán Redmond is very good as the Rani in this audio adventure. As well as hearing her in ‘Planet of the Rani’, I’ve also seen her lately in Series 5, Episode 1 of ‘Grantchester’. She was trying to dress up as Jodie Whittaker in a tuxedo from ‘Spyfall’ in that. 😀 Siobhán’s Rani is very different in this tale.
She’s still amoral and more interested in her scientific experiments compared to the Doctor who has compassion for other life, but she’s more softly spoken compared to Kate O’Mara’s interpretation. I’m sure Kate O’Mara and Siobhán Redmond were friends before Kate sadly passed away in March 2014.
Incidentally, during her photoshoot as the Rani, Siobhán Redmond brandished a potato peeler as a hand prop which was enhanced to create her…sonic screwdriver, I think. It’s the only thing I can come up with to describe the Rani’s weapon. Although, I don’t think the Rani has a sonic screwdriver. 😐
Colin Baker is equally good as the Doctor in this audio adventure. I like how he interacts with Peri and how he confronts the new Rani. Colin’s Doctor can often be arrogant at times, matching to the brashness of his early days. This is something that happens when he’s talking to Peri during the tale.
But Colin’s Doctor isn’t as mean-spirited as he used to be. He also want to get down to the heart of the matter of what the Rani’s doing before he can get the honorary degree he came for in the first place. I like how Colin’s Doctor tries to persuade the Rani to be good and to stop her experiments. 🙂
By the way, this is after the Rani encountered the Seventh Doctor in ‘Time and the Rani’ since she regenerated into Siobhán Redmond. I liked it when the Doctor was going “Blah, blah, blah, not interested” or something like that. Though, should he already be aware of how he ends up in future?
Nicola Bryant is equally superb as Peri in this audio. This is of course Peri after the Doctor reunited with her in ‘The Widow’s Assassin’ and ‘Masters of Earth’. So this is the latest version of Peri – Or one of them. Five Peris, remember? – who has survived the events of ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’ here.
I like how Peri interacts with Colin’s Doctor and somehow still manages to get along with him. Peri often records her feelings into a speaking device, which helps in terms of the story to outwit the Rani in her plans. Peri often thinks of that self-sacrifice the Doctor did for her in ‘The Caves of Androzani’.
This story allows Nicola Bryant to play another character in Peri’s body. Yep! The ‘Mindwarp’ mind-planting thing happens again as Peri’s mind gets taken out of her body to be replaced by the mind of a countess. I wondered whether the Doctor would save Peri properly here compared to ‘Mindwarp’.
The rest of the cast are as follows. There’s Andrew Bone as the Vice Chancellor, who may be in cahoots with the Rani during her experiments at the college. There’s Becky Wright as Lizzo, who seems to be a timid young university student at first before her personality changes by ‘Part Two’. 😐
There’s Mike Noble as Miklev, a student who helps the Doctor and Peri when they’re investigating the mysterious goings-on at the college with the Rani. And there’s Charlie Morton as Reev, who also seems to be in cahoots with the Rani. Everyone in the cast delivers great performances in this story!
I liked some of the mentions by the Doctor on Time Lord history, including the Deca and mentioning characters like Drax, Mortimus and Vansell. She even called the Rani by her given name ‘Ushas’ at some point, which was featured in the ‘Doctor Who’ book called ‘Divided Loyalties’. I’ve read that. 🙂
At the end of the story, the Rani gets locked up for her crimes (something to be followed up in ‘Planet of the Rani’ next) and Peri and the Doctor are awarded their honorary degrees. Yep, even Peri gets an honorary degree in botany by the end. The Doctor is still talking as the end credits start.
‘The Rani Elite’ has been an enjoyable audio adventure featuring the Sixth Doctor and Peri’s first meeting with the new Rani and Siobhán Redmond plays her very well. I’m pleased I’ve heard the 2014 Sixth Doctor and Peri trilogy at last. I wonder what happens to them after this story is ended. 😐
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there’s a suite of incidental music to enjoy. On Disc 2, there’s a trailer for ‘Mistfall’ with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson and Sarah Sutton. There are some behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Siobhán Redmond, director Ken Bentley, writer Justin Richards, etc.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘The Rani Elite’ via a 6 or 12 CD/download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There is a PDF script and extended extras of ‘The Rani Elite’. There’s also a bonus Short Trip called ‘A Home From Home’ with the Third Doctor, read by Stephen Critchlow.
‘The Rani Elite’ rating – 8/10
|The previous story
For the Sixth Doctor was
|The next story
For the Sixth Doctor is
For Peri is
|Return to The Sixth Doctor’s Timeline|
|Return to Peri’s Timeline|
|Return to The Doctors’ Timelines Index|
|Return to The Companions’ Timelines Index|
|Return to Doctor Who Timelines|
|Return to Doctor Who|
|Return to Sci-Fi|