The Rani is a character in the science fiction series Doctor Who, she was played by the late Kate O'Mara.
In literature, she is one of the first opponents faced by the Eleventh Surgeon alongside The Master, the Weeping Angels, the Cybermen and the Daleks and is the only one of them to appear in three stories consecutively.
The Rani is also the only female alien villain to appear in the Surgeon stories as other female villains that appear after Land of the Two Foes are largely humans (The Rani is an alien because she is actually a Time Lady).
The Rani is a renegade Time Lady, and an evil scientific genius whose villainy comes not from the usual variety of lust for power and suchlike, but from a mindset that treats everything (including morality) as secondary to her research; she has been known to enslave entire planets such as Miasimia Goria in order to have a ready supply of experimental subjects and a place to carry out her experiments uninterrupted.
Her major interest is in tinkering with other species' biochemistry — she was exiled from Gallifrey after some of her lab mice, as a result of an experiment, grew to enormous size and ate the President's pet cat, and according to The Master, "took a chunk out of him too". A past relationship between the Rani and the Doctor is hinted at but was never elaborated upon, although it is established they are the same age.
The Rani was, like The Master, intended as a recurring foe of the Doctor, but only appeared in two serials, The Mark of the Rani (1985) and Time and the Rani (1987), before Doctor Who went off the air in 1989. The Rani also appeared as the principal villain in Dimensions in Time, a 1993 Doctor Who charity special created for Children in Need. She was intended to appear in another serial entitled Yellow Fever and How To Cure It, but the show was put on hiatus and the serial was cancelled.
In her original appearances The Mark of the Rani and Time and the Rani, The Rani has tanned skin and big hair that was often curled. She always dressed lavishly wearing boots, tights, and voluminous shirts.
As Asma Benyamina in the Surgeon stories, she bears some resemblance to the E.I.N official Asma Ghazali from the Cold War II series. As Asma, the Rani appears to be about thirty five years old with tan skin, black hair and brown eyes and like the Surgeon's first companion Ghazal Rashidi, she wears traditional Islamic attire.
Unlike Ghazal however, the Rani wears both a navy blue abaya and hijab whereas Ghazal wears a navy blue abaya and a white hijab (only in Strategy of a Surgeon. She switches the colors in the following stories Terror of the Rani and Land of the Two Foes) and beneath her abaya, Asma wears black boots. After Asma regenerates into the Rani, she now has fair skin but continues to have black hair and brown eyes.
Whilst The Rani's first appearance in the Surgeon stories is Strategy of a Surgeon she does not actually appear as her true self but rather as a disgraced Egyptian politician by the name of Asma Benyamina who first appears in a debate session about whether to send the Egyptian Army into intervention in the last few years in the war against Islamic State.
After she is touched by a Weeping Angel she is sent to sorcerer Azhar Namin and knowing all to well who the sorcerer really is, joins him in his plan to take over the world. She later kidnaps Ghazal Rashidi and holds her hostage until the Surgeon viciously attacks Azhar where she is trapped in the vice-like grip of an Angel.
She later flees with The Master but is knocked out in a fight between The Master and the Surgeon and by the end is left bloody and battered. After she tries to kill Ghazal, the surgeon supposedly kills her by throwing a scalpel into her back.
After the events of Strategy of a Surgeon, a severely wounded Asma Benyamina drags herself to her TARDIS where she activates the controls before collapsing. As the TARDIS de-materializes, Asma collapses seemingly dead but regenerates into the Rani.
Upon her regeneration, the Rani sets her course for 1970s Iran and is first shown in the Royal Palace of Iran where she shows off a Cyberman to the Shah of Iran. When he asks the Rani who she is, the Time Lady replies it does not concern him and when she tells him that she hears that he is worried about the revolution, she tells him:
"I could keep you on the throne for a longer period of time. If you trust me, then these revolutionaries need not be a concern to you.”With these words, the Rani manages to gain the Shah's trust by telling him that as long as he puts his trust in her then he will be safe. The Time Lady leaves the palace and activates a cubicle that illuminates the weapons that she intends to keep the Shah on the throne for a longer period of time: Cybermen.
For a while, the Rani does not appear again until Part 5 where she reveals why she came to Iran: To change it. By using the Cybermen, she will kill off all the revolutionaries which will in turn keep the Shah on the throne for a much longer period of time (he was originally meant to be deposed in 1979) and also intends to help the Cybermen because once the revolution is over, the Rani will turn the Cybermen against the Shah and kill him then use the Cybermen to take over the world.
She then flees to the Royal Palace to activate the Cybermen which stuns Iran and does so after the Surgeon blows up her hideout. The Rani returns to the Royal Palace where the Shah demands to know her name and the revelation is revealed:
"I'm glad you asked! I Am The Rani!"In this process, The Rani effectively puts her plan ahead of schedule (the plan was to have the Cybermen kill the revolutionaries then after 1979, allow the Shah to keep ruling for a period of time, then kill him) as she has effectively given the Surgeon too much information.
The Rani may have been an enemy of the Doctor, but when the Shah demands a further explanation she quotes him by replying:
"I am the Rani! I am a Time Lady! I am from the planet Gallifrey in the Constellation of Kasterborous! And I am going to be the one who takes over Iran with you out of the way!"
But before she can attack the Shah, the Surgeon bursts in and she comes under fire from Majid who attacks her with a machine gun. It is also the combined might of the Surgeon that defeats the Rani:
The Surgeon destroys the weapon she was going to use to kill the Shah but the Time Lady does not care and so pulls out a device with which she will activate Cybermen all over Iran. But Majid holds her at gunpoint and Ghazal kicks her in the back knocking her to the ground and throwing the device out of her hands. Finally, the Surgeon destroys the device by stamping on it which destroys the Cybermen.
While the Shah demands an explanation, the Rani is held at gunpoint on the floor by Majid but manages to escape when the Surgeon and Ghazal cause him to fire elsewhere. She is chased through the city of Tehran but escapes leaving behind a note saying "Catch me if you can!"
In her previous appearance Terror of the Rani, the Rani appeared instantly but in the story Land of the Two Foes she does not appear until Part 2 which under normal circumstances would have been part three and made her a joint record holder with Sasha le Fleur in The King of Hell and Lady Blue in All Animals are Equal for the longest absence of a character, the only difference being that the two animals are heroes (although the latter is a villain in her original appearance and is a hero in literature appearances).
Following from the events of Terror of the Rani, she flees to Iraq which is set about eleven years in the future in the 1990s. At first, the Rani appears in the shadows when she sees the Daleks invade Iraq and attack what appears to be the city of Baghdad and while the Surgeon wants to chase her, he cannot because the country's paramilitary organization the Mukhabarat forces him away allowing her to escape.
When the coast is clear, the Rani takes the opportunity to sneak on board the Dalek flying saucer and immediately finds herself under threat from the Daleks who instead seek to exterminate her. The Rani tries to get the Daleks on her side but the attempt fails when one of the Daleks declares:
"YOU ARE A TIME LADY! YOU ARE AN ENEMY OF THE DALEKS! YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED!"But the Rani defends herself by declaring that she can help the Daleks which gets the attention of the Black Dalek who tells her that she will obey the Daleks or she will be exterminated. Alongside the Daleks, the Rani is secretly listening to a conversation between the Surgeon and the President of Iraq Saddam Hussein and as such tells the Supreme Dalek to make the Daleks in the Iraqi desert to withdraw because she has a plan.
She plans to integrate the Daleks as assistants to the Iraqi Army and with the Daleks' firepower this will essentially mean that Iraqi forces will remain in Kuwait and because of this, the Daleks' plan can continue. While it is not yet revealed what the plan is and while her name is not known to Ghazal or Majid, it is known to the Surgeon where she is described as such in the last moments of Part 7:
"To Ghazal, this was Asma Benyamina who had ordered her kidnap in Egypt but to the Surgeon, it was the rogue Time Lady he had known for centuries before he left Gallifrey during the Time War with the Daleks whose grasp he was now in.
But to the Surgeon, this was the rogue Time Lady he had prevented from taking over Earth with the Master and the Weeping Angels in Egypt and later prevented her from changing Iranian and indeed world history by keeping the Shah on the throne way longer than he should have been by using the Cybermen.
Now, here she was with the Surgeon’s second most common enemy after Meglos who he had finally defeated in his tenth incarnation. Here was this rogue Time Lady with the Daleks almost a decade after the Iranian revolution; here with the Daleks…was the Rani."Because the Surgeon and Majid have previously demanded an explanation to previous villain plans, it is now Ghazal who wants an explanation as to what the Rani is doing in Iraq and while the Rani does not answer Ghazal she asks the Surgeon if he has ever come across any superguns.
When the Surgeon replies that in the centuries in traveling the universe he has never encountered any super guns, she replies:
"Good! Then you can see the potentially most powerful gun ever created!"The Rani then answers Ghazal's question:
Two years later and a year before the Iran-Iraq War was due to end, Saddam had commissioned a supergun by the codename of Project Babylon which was to be based on Project HARP designed by Gerald Bull. But the Daleks and the Rani want to use it to hold the world to ransom unlike Saddam who wants to use it for unknown purposes.
Even if Saddam wants to use the supergun for unknown purposes however, it is likely that he would use the weapon to either launch a satellite into space or blast Israel to kingdom come in order to make way for the state of Palestine. While the Rani has been at the Surgeon's throat since the word go, she makes a surprise because she actually goes after Majid Bashar to split the three of them up.
She does it by making the Surgeon question Majid's potential as a companion and when the Surgeon believes that he has not shown any potential as a companion, the Rani orders a Dalek to exterminate him. Her actions here are actually shown to be done out of both spite and revenge.
After a Dalek kills Majid, the Rani delights in seeing Ghazal turn against the Surgeon and also considers having her exterminated. She decides against the idea however and instead takes them into a transmat beam, straight to the Iraqi desert and straight to Project Babylon.
While the supergun certainly impresses both the Rani's foes, the Surgeon is not convinced that the Daleks can use it so orders her to show him how powerful it is. One of the Dalek leaders is in complete agreement with this and orders the Rani to test the gun to which she replies "I obey" with such a fashion it makes the Surgeon's skin crawl.
The target for Project Babylon comes in the form of an F-15 Eagle which Ghazal demands to be shot down immediately, but the Rani refuses to fire...until the Supreme Dalek tells her to and here, she unleashes the firepower of the supergun which is enough to shoot the craft down and cause massive damage such as damaging the mechanism of the ejector seat so when the plane crashes, it explodes and kills him.
After the test firing of Project Babylon, the Rani does something very unusual: She tries to persuade the Surgeon to join her and the Daleks which is unusual because since he left Gallifrey, the Surgeon has never been persuaded to join his enemies in conquest. Again, the Surgeon is unconvinced as to why he should accept the offer to which the Rani gives a passionate reply:
"Because just think, with you by my side we could bring the Time Lords back again, imagine the worlds you could save. Just imagine, our own people...reborn."Her reply also attracts the attention of Ghazal who she successfully turns against Majid by branding him "miserable", but Ghazal finally turns the Surgeon against the Rani who finally dies when a Dalek who is ready to exterminate the Surgeon is aimed at the Rani so the Dalek ends up firing at her and exterminates her. When the Daleks are destroyed and create an inferno in the desert, the Rani's body is consumed in the flames.