Kate O’Mara as The Rani (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Word came out yesterday that Kate O’Mara passed away at 74. While one news report claimed her most famous role was her reoccuring role as Cassandra Morelli on ABC’s Dynasty we sci-fi people will best remember her as The Rani, the most unique of the Time Lord villains faced by the Doctor.
Think about it. She’s not only the only Time Lady among the renegade Time Lords the Doctor has fought (the Master, the Monk, the War Chief, Omega) but she never wanted to conquer or control anyone. She wasn’t driven by revenge. Conquest and/or revenge are usually the motivating factors for Who villains. Instead it was an amoral approach to answering the questions of science. What would happen if…? Forget computer models. If you want to know what would happen if a planet crashed into another one, just crash two planets together. How would the people on one of those planets react? Choose an inhabited one. By her actions she was evil but by her goals she was just in it for science’s sake with no concern about pretty much everyone. That’s what sent her away from Gallifrey because even the Time Lords have standards. They’re not the Daleks, after all.
While most of the mad scientists the Doctor faces used science to get power, she just wanted to learn stuff to the detriment of everyone. And O’Mara was fantastic in the role.
O’Mara’s performance made even the abysmal “Dimensions In Time” special somewhat watchable. The Rani dealt with the last two of the Classic Doctors and sadly was never seen again. I wanted her to show up in the new series. Imagine what a darker take on the series would give the Rani to play with?
While I’ve focused on the Rani for obvious reasons, she’s had an incredible career, having worked with Peter Cushing and Joan Collins, and appearing in numerous TV shows and movies. Her last appearance was in the 2012 series Benidorm, which I know nothing about, and was also appearing on stage. I think Dynasty was the only US production I know of that she was in.
Hollywood Life reports that O’Mara died in a nursing home recovering from an illness. I wonder if she would have continued acting? The same article reports that she would have liked to have been in the 50th anniversary. Imagine what a more interesting threat the Rani would have been than the Zygons?