Whilst in flight the TARDIS is attacked by the evil Rani, a renegade Time-Lady. The TARDIS crash-lands on the planet Lakertya. On the floor of the console room, the Doctor begins his sixth regeneration. In his post-regenerative confusion the Doctor is separated from his young companion 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 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, however, 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 the TARDIS so that he can return them home.
- Although this was the first story to feature the Seventh Doctor, it was written in anticipation of Colin Baker returning as the Sixth Doctor. When he declined to even film the regeneration sequence, Sylvester McCoy instead wore his predecessor's costume and a blond curly wig and filmed the sequence himself.
- A number of spin-off media have provided additional explanation for the Doctor's regeneration including the Virgin New Adventures novels Timewyrm: Revelation, Love and War by Paul Cornell, Head Games by Steve Lyons, all of which speculate that the Seventh Doctor's 'essence' drove the Sixth Doctor to pilot the TARDIS into the Rani's tractor beam to become Time's Champion and prevent himself from becoming the Valeyard, and the Past Doctor Adventures novel Spiral Scratch by Gary Russell, which features the Sixth Doctor sacrificing much of his energy to prevent a pan-dimensional being from destroying creation, leaving him in a weakened physical condition before the Rani's attack.
- The Seventh Doctor tries on several earlier Doctors' costumes: the Second Doctor's fur coat, the Third Doctor's smoking jacket, the Fourth Doctor's coat and scarf and the Fifth Doctor's cricket outfit, as well as other costumes. He also wears the Sixth Doctor's patchwork coat for much of the first episode, the first example of a Doctor wearing his previous self's clothes for a prolonged period rather than quickly changing after regeneration.
- It is never explained how the Rani escaped the predicament in which she had last been seen in The Mark of the Rani (trapped with the Master in her TARDIS and a rapidly-growing Tyrannosaurus rex embryo). The novelisation of Time and the Rani by Pip and Jane Baker claims that the rapidly-growing dinosaur snapped its neck on the ceiling of the Rani's TARDIS and died instantly, while the novel State of Change reveals that the Master escaped the TARDIS by separating the console room from the rest of the ship, forcing the Rani to cannibalise other controls in her TARDIS to pilot it prior to the events of the novel, although the canonicity of this claim is unclear.
- The Doctor states that he and the Rani are 953, in line with frequent (presumably approximate) claims by previous Doctors to be 900. However, in the new series, the Ninth Doctor reverted to the 900 figure, the Tenth Doctor claimed to be 903 and later 906 and the Eleventh Doctor 907.
Serial details by episode
|Episode ||Broadcast date ||Run time ||Viewership
||7 September 1987 (1987-09-07)
||14 September 1987 (1987-09-14)
||21 September 1987 (1987-09-21)
||28 September 1987 (1987-09-28)
- This story's working title was Strange Matter.
- The Loyhargil, lightweight substitute for strange matter, is an anagram of "holy grail".
- Amongst the famous Humans the Doctor mentions towards the end as he explains to Mel the severity of the Rani's plans are Elvis and Mrs Malaprop (a fictional character). This is a reference to the Seventh Doctor's frequent use of Malapropisms throughout this story.
- Ken Trew created the Seventh Doctor's costume, based on a 1930s golfing design.
- The story features a pre-credits sequence where the TARDIS crash-lands on Lakertya. This is only the third time in the series history that there was a pre-credit sequence. Castrovalva (1982) and The Five Doctors (1983) were the first two stories to have a "cold opening". Only one more story of the original series, Remembrance of the Daleks would feature a pre-credits teaser, although this practice became commonplace from "The End of the World" onwards (the 1996 TV movie featured a short sequence incorporated into the title sequence).
- The main location used for the planet Lakertya including the exterior of the Rani’s laboratory was Cloford Quarry, in Somerset.
- This story was the first time the Doctor Who title sequence was created with a computer. Many of the effects, like the bubble Mel is trapped in, were realised in the same manner.
- Keff McCulloch arranged the new opening theme. It was used until the end of the regular run of the series. A new logo for the series was also introduced with this story along with a new opening credits sequence that moved away from the "starfield" motif introduced in 1980. The new theme arrangement marked the first time since the First Doctor's era that the theme's "middle eight" section was regularly heard during the opening credits (the previous two arrangements used the middle eight during the closing credits only). As with the opening sequence from the Sixth Doctor era, the Seventh Doctor's opening does not use a static image of the Doctor, but rather one with limited animation: the image starts as a scowl, then the Doctor winks and smiles. McCoy wears makeup that gives his face and hair a silver/grey appearance.
 Commercial releases
The story was released on VHS in July 1995. The story is also to be released on DVD on September 13th 2010. It features a commentary by Sylvester McCoy, Bonnie Langford, Pip and Jane Baker.
 In print
A novelisation of this serial, written by Pip and Jane Baker, was published by Target Books in December 1987.
 External links
 Target novelisation