AUDIO REVIEW: THE RANI ELITE (DOCTOR WHO) / AUTHOR: JUSTIN RICHARDS / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / STARRING: COLIN BAKER, NICOLA BRYANT, SIOBHAN REDMOND, ANDREW BONE, BECKY WRIGHT, MIKE NOBLE, CHARLIE MORTON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Justin Richards originally wrote The Rani Elite for Kate O’Mara, who sadly passed away before it could be recorded. Kate had indicated she wanted the character to continue and Big Finish recast Siobhan Redmond as a new regeneration of the renegade Time Lord scientist. This story is a Sixth Doctor (Baker) and Peri (Bryant) adventure, even though the Rani has already met the Seventh Doctor – that’s time travel for you! It does mean a few references to the umbrella man to add spice to listening for fans.
The plot is straightforward: the Doctor has been invited to receive an honorary degree in Moral Philosophy but finds someone is conducting medical experiments on students with technology that shouldn’t exist. Can the Doctor and Peri thwart her plans, or is it already too late?
Of course, the Rani is at the heart of events, in a two-pronged exploitation of both the young and the old. Scenes between her and the Doctor touch on their past on Gallifrey but the Rani is wonderful in the way she doesn’t reveal her plans when she captures the Doctor – she is too busy executing them. In the end, the Doctor wins the day but at times it isn’t obvious how. Peri also becomes the victim of the Rani’s machinations and yet again we are left to wonder why exactly she travels with the Doctor, given how much she suffers.
The story doesn’t dwell over much of the first appearance of the Rani for Big Finish, nor on the regeneration; why would it? Instead, it focusses on conveying the arrogant indifference of the Rani to anyone that she needs to exploit to achieve her aims. Siobhan Redmond is suitably composed and aloof, portraying the character with a gentle ease that draws the listener in. The supporting cast add energy to the story and it is an easy listen.
With another new casting seamlessly introduced, Big Finish continues to produce the rock solid audios it is rightly known for. With another Rani title announced for November, it seems fans can look forward to many more appearances from Siobhan Redmond.
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