An example of fandom’s disdain for the Bakers. Note: one of the audience members, the one with the glasses and no beard on the right is a young Chris Chibnall who wrote several episodes for the new series, 42, Hungry Earth, Cold Blood, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, and The Power of Three.
Pip and Jane Baker are almost universally regarded as the worst Doctor Who writers of all time. Ask anyone to name you 5 bad Doctor Who writers and chances are Pip and Jane will be the first names that spring to mind.
They are often used by critics of John Nathan Turner as proof of how incompetent he was as a producer that he kept hiring them.
To most Who fans as soon as they see their name’s appear on screen it becomes apparent that there is nothing that can be done to halt the catharsis of Spurious entertainment!
Even people who worked on the series itself will often be quick to slate them.
Listen to what former Doctor Who script editor Eric Saward has to say about them in his resignation letter. Indeed part of the reason Saward was resigning from the series was at the thought of having to work on another script of theirs.
“My reason for this sudden departure is very simple. I have somehow lost credibility with myself to keep Doctor Who afloat, a show viewed indifferently at best by the management. I have had to put the best writer (Robert Holmes) the series ever had in hospital and, out of sheer desperation I am now working with two of the most talentless people (Pip and Jane Baker) who have ever had the nerve to set pen to paper. What’s more I will be expected to “fix” their appalling drivel so that it will appear less like the pile of trash that it is – a task I fear is beyond Jehovah himself. Saddens me to leave in such a silly melodramatic way, but I am sick to death of Doctor Who and the way it is run.”
I think its a shame that Pip and Jane have such a negative reputation. They are far from my favourite writers on the series, but I think they are decent enough and indeed I think unlike a lot of other writers (including their critics Chris Chibnall and Eric Saward) they actually made many worthwhile contributions to the series.
In this article I am going to try and offer a defence of the Bakers. Again don’t get me wrong I am not saying they are on the level of Terry Nation, Steven Moffat or Robert Holmes, but I really don’t think they deserve to be slated constantly the way they have been.
I think that things during the 1985-88 period are generally by and large not judged fairly by fandom. As that was the period in which the show’s popularity fell (which was due to the BBC fucking around with it). Hopefully this may change your opinion of the Bakers though I doubt it as they are so ingrained in fandom’s minds as the worst writers in the shows long history.
Lets get started then.
They Created Interesting Villains
The Bakers created new and interesting villains who have stood the test of time.
The most famous of these is the Rani. The Rani only appeared in two stories yet she is arguably one of the most iconic Doctor Who villains of all time. Indeed when Kate O’Mara tragically passed away the Rani was mentioned just as much by the papers as her character from Dynasty.
As you can see from those articles Doctor Who is mentioned a lot. She was The Rani in just two episodes of Doctor Who, whilst she was in Dynasty which was at one point one of the biggest television series in the world for years.
Fandom has been demanding the return of the Rani for years. Its become a running joke in fact among fandom whenever a new female character appears that some fans will instantly think that she is really the Rani in disguise using a Chamelion Arch like Yana as the Master.
Donna, River Song, Amy Pond, Madame Kovarian, Clara even my beloved Osgood have all been suggested to be the Rani by fans on forums at certain points.
As recently as last year many fans believed that Missy, the first female incarnation of the Master was the Rani.
Check out this poll in the Radio Times below. The viewers correctly guessed that she was the Master, but another guess was the Rani showing that the character is still remembered by the general public.
Russell T Davies himself even got in on the gag in the podcast for “The Last of the Time Lords” by saying that the hand with red nail varnish that picked up the Master’s ring at the end of that episode was the Rani’s.
In 2008 NME made an April fools joke (that made it into all the other major papers) that Amy Winehouse would be playing the Rani.
Here it is if you don’t believe me Amy Winehouse to star in Doctor Who
Fandom really wants the Rani, but Moffat and Davies say NO, NO, NO!
At that point Amy Winehouse was at the absolute height of her fame. Back to Black was the biggest album in the world. You couldn’t move without seeing something about her, she was breaking records set by even the Beatles. In America Back to Black scooped up 5 Grammy’s! So the fact that NME said that Amy would be playing the Rani says a lot about the characters recognition. It wasn’t Romana or Susan they said Amy, the biggest British Megastar at that point, would be playing it was The Rani.
Recently Big Finish re cast the Rani with Siobhan Redmond in the role. Redmond is a very distinguished actress who has had a very long and successful career on both stage and television.
So yes I think its fair to say that The Rani as a character has stood the test of time. Despite only appearing on tv twice she is still remembered thirty years later by fandom and even the general public more so than any other female character apart from Sarah Jane Smith from the classic era!
Regardless of anything else Pip and Jane created a truly iconic character that will probably always be remembered which is not nothing. For any writer to have done that is truly something special. Did Eric Saward who dismissed them as talentless hacks ever manage that? Think Lytton is as remembered as The Rani?
In this respect yes Pip and Jane can join the likes of Terry Nation, Bob Holmes, Steven Moffat, Terrence Dicks and Kit Pedler and Gerry Davies in terms of creating truly lasting characters that the public remembers and that fandom wants to see again.
Pip and Jane Baker are arguably the only writers to do that in Doctor Who apart from Steven Moffat in the past 30 plus years. Certainly in terms of villainous characters. Obviously many writers have created iconic heroic characters in the series. But look at really iconic villains in Doctor Who and really in the past 30 years the Rani and the Weeping Angels are the only two major ones.
I like Sil, but he’s not really in the Rani’s league. No one is desperate for him to return, the papers aren’t going to jump at the first tiny little rumour of him coming back and he is not really known to anyone outside of Who fandom either. The Slitheen, the Judoon and the Ood have also not really made that big an impact on either fandom or the general public, and even the Silence were kind of a sensation at first but then faded very quickly.
Of course Steven Moffat tried to recently say that he could not have brought the Rani back as no one remembers her yet despite this he also admitted he shot an alternate scene where Missy was revealed to be the Rani see in the link below.
Look at the comments below in that article and see how many people REALLY wanted Missy to be the Rani instead of the Master. Moffat a character isn’t obscure when a massive chunk of your audience wishes you’d stuck them in it.
If the Rani was such an obscure character why try and dupe fandom into thinking that Missy was her instead Moffat?
Why not choose say Romana?
Its ironic in a way as the most common criticism I personally have seen online of Missy’s character is that she should have been the Rani instead. Log onto the Doctor Who facebook page and I guarantee you will see comments like this “Yeah I like Michelle Gomez but why the fuck wasn’t she the Rani”. Not exactly what I would call an obscure character.
Yes the Rani is truly iconic character, but is she actually an interesting villain? Well I’d say yes.
The Rani stood out from other enemies for many reasons.
To start with unlike the Master, the Daleks or Davros the Rani was not a truly evil character. The Rani was simply an amoral scientist who experimented on human beings the same way that we experiment on animals.
She believed her experiments on humanity would aid higher life forms including her fellow time lords. Whilst she may seem like a monster to us she is actually no more evil and cruel than we are to other life forms.
We mistreat the animals around us, we experiment on them, hunt them, we have even driven entire species to extinction!
How can we honestly therefore say that a higher species treating us in a similar manner is any worse? We are lesser creatures to the time lords. A human brain can’t contain a time lord mind without burning up. Remember poor Donna she nearly died trying to contain a time lord’s knowledge. Also your average human if they are lucky lives for roughly 80 years. One incarnation of a time lord as seen in Time of the Doctor can live for 11 hundred years, thus in total they can live for 14300 years.
We’re tadpoles compared to them. We’re not even on the level on monkeys or Sheep or Cows compared to a time lord.
So with this in mind is the Rani really so evil? Unlike Davros who just destroys without reason, the Master who conquers for the glorification of his own ego, the Rani can actually justify herself to the Doctor.
Look at the following exchange.
Doctor/ These are human beings Rani. Living creatures that have done you no harm.
Rani/ They’re carnivores. What harm have the animals in the fields done them? The rabbits they snare, the sheep they nourish to slaughter. Do they worry about the lesser species when they sink their teeth into a lamb chop?
Also unlike with the Master or Davros, the Doctor doesn’t have the moral high ground completely here. When the Tenth Doctor samples a buffalo wing in Voyage of the Damned is he being a hypocrite? In a way yes he is.
At the same time whilst the Rani gave the Doctor a villain that could actually defend her crimes to him, she also I feel made us appreciate the Doctor as a hero more too.
She showed us how lucky we were that the Doctor had taken such a liking to humanity. To the time lords we are nothing and the Rani shows us that more than ever before. With the Rani its not just a case of we are dealing with an all powerful alien that wants to rule us like the Master. We are dealing with an alien that actually makes us lose our humanity. The Rani looks on us the same way that we would look on an animal and that is disturbing. At least with the Master he looks on us as a race worth conquering. He even has respect for some of his human adversaries like Martha Jones and Jo Grant. The Rani however just looks on them as pieces of meat to experiment on. In a way whilst not being as deplorable she almost makes you appreciate the Master too.
Thus as you can see the Rani was a very different type of villain to the Master. In some ways she was less evil, whilst in others she was more frightening.
There was a reason for everything she did. She never just killed people on a whim, or for revenge like the Master did. She was never guilty of senseless, meaningless cruelty like the murder of Osgood.
However at the same time because she genuinely did not view human beings as intelligent life forms then there was literally nothing she wouldn’t do to us.
We can see this in The Mark of the Rani when a character named Luke is turned into a Tree. The Master is absolutely horrified at this.
Even though he will butcher innocent people on a whim this is something different. Unlike his victims Luke will suffer for decades. He’ll be unable to move, speak, interact with the world around him yet be aware every second. That’s not just a quick zap like Osgood, and whilst the Master obviously isn’t guilty, he is disturbed at the very least at the idea of an intelligent life form being condemned to such a horrific fate.
The Rani however doesn’t care. To her its like stepping on a bug because that’s all a human being is to her. Its not an intelligent life form.
Master/ No! An accident it wasn’t meant for him
Doctor/ And you’re so warped. So callous you think that justifies it?
The Rani/ Oh stop being so sentimental. What’s happened? Animal matter has been turned into vegetable matter?
Doctor/ You’ll be telling me next he’s better off.
The Rani/ Well as a matter of fact he is. A tree has four times the life expectancy of a human being.
The Rani was a totally different character to the Master and I think it was a shame that people were often quick to dismiss her as just being a female version of the Master. She really was not like the Master at all. If it had been the Rani that confronted Osgood then she would not have killed her for the hell of it. However she may have captured her for an experiment and what she did to her in that experiment would have been far worse.
Makes you wonder who you would rather be at the mercy of?
On the one hand I don’t fancy the idea of dying for no reason other than as a sick joke to satisfy a perverted sadist’s warped sense of humour.
On the other whilst there would at least be reason for it if my demise was at the hands of the Rani rather than the Master, it would be a lot more drawn out and a lot more undignified too.
Another key difference between the Rani and the Master is that she has no emotional attachment to the Doctor. Again I felt this made her quite interesting. So many of the Doctors enemies are obsessed with him or view him as a worthy adversary like the Master or Davros.
The Rani however just views him as an annoying pest.
Doctor/ Well you had me fooled if its any consolation.
Rani/ It isn’t.
The Rani unlike the Doctor or the Master was someone of great importance on Gallifrey. She was a leading scientist and thus to her the Doctor is just a bum and the Master a petty hoodlum getting in the way of he experiments.
I also think that making the Rani a woman was a brilliant move on the Bakers part. Doctor Who had no real strong female villainous characters. All of its villains were either male or more masculine like the Daleks.
The Rani was also quite an unusual and I feel in some ways empowering villain for women. She was a female villain who didn’t have to rely on her looks despite being played by Kate O’Mara.
As I have mentioned in the past it can get a little frustrating the way that most female villains have to be in love with r have to seduce the male hero. I am not saying we should never have overtly sexual female characters, but at the same time it would be nice to have one that doesn’t follow that template and the Rani I feel is one of the few who broke out of it.
Another aspect of the Rani’s character I found interesting was the way she loved Dinosaurs. The Rani was as fond of Dinosaurs as the Doctor was of human beings and we see she keeps them as pets and even tries to change history so that they will not be driven to extinction. Its an interesting idea again that an all powerful alien like a time lord could feel empathy with another species on earth instead of humanity.
Sadly the Rani was only in two stories. Her first appearance The Mark of the Rani I’d say is a classic story, sadly however her second Time and the Rani is as bad as everyone says it is. The Rani also appeared in the 30th anniversary skit Dimensions in Time which is similarly reviled. Personally I think people are a bit hard on this skit. Yes its mince, but its not actually meant to be a serious DW story. Its really more of a party for the show and in that respect what can I say I enjoy it as its fun seeing all the Doctors together. Obviously looking at it as a serious DW story then yes its utter, utter, utter garbage. The Rani sadly is just a female Master in this story too. Still I do enjoy watching The Rani meet the Third Doctor who I think plays off of her brilliantly. I so wish Jon Pertwee had lived long enough to do Big Finish recordings and we had a 3/Rani story.
The Rani has just been screaming out for a return appearance in the revival. I am really annoyed the way the makers of new who have just resisted it for the most ridiculous reason that no one would know who she is. Yeah no one knows who that character is that Amy fucking Winehouse was linked to by the press, that every female character has been thought to be in disguise, and that the vast majority of people wish Missy had been.
I might add that both Davies and Moffat have brought back villains like the Macra (in all honesty who gives a fuck about the Macra?) and the Great Intelligence. Now I love the Great Intelligence, but come on here. You can’t say that he is more well known than the Rani. Pre 2013 both of his stories were wiped!
There is so much that could have been done with the Rani in the revival. A lot of people have said that “what’s the point you have the Master”, but remember the Rani is a completely different type of villain to the Master and thus would bring a totally different dynamic. Saying why bother with the Rani when you have the Master is like saying why bother with Davros when you have the Master.
I would have loved to have seen the Rani face off against Tennant’s Doctor. I think they would have been an excellent two to put together as you would have had a very emotional Doctor and a very cold, icey Rani. Kate O’Mara expressed an interest in returning to the new series and I think it would have been good to have her a much older Rani appear opposite a younger Tennant as the Doctor too.
I really wish they had just made a full series in 2009 rather than those specials. A full series with The Rani as the main villain would have brilliant. There are so many interesting ways you could have linked the Rani to the new series lore. Perhaps she had been responsible for creating many of those monsters during the time war to battle the Daleks like The Nightmare Child or the Horde of travesties? Maybe after the war she could be trying to find a way for the time lord race to survive through cloning. There are so many things you could do with her.
She’d have made a brilliant contrast to Simm’s Master. With Simm’s Master we had a young villain, who was crazy and had a deep emotional bond to the Doctor. With the Rani we would have had a much older, female, colder, more logical, more ruthless villain who viewed the Doctor as nothing and had no bond or obsession with him, just saw him at best as a nuisance. Again imagine how refreshing that would be after all the Doctors “I AM THE ONCOMING STORM” during the Davies era if we saw a villain like the Rani who cuts him down to size and makes him feel like the little nobody he was back on Gallifrey.
I don’t understand why the writers wouldn’t want to exploit that dynamic. Aren’t two very different archenemies better than the one villain being used all of the time?
Of course the best moment to bring the Rani back would have been in series 8. I agree with the general consensus that Missy should have been the Rani. In this case its not so much a why bother with the Rani when you have the Master its a why did you bother with the Master instead of the Rani? Sadly I think Dark Water/Death and Heaven with the Rani could have been a classic, though I wont go into all that now, just look at the pictures below that I think make my point.
You can see what I mean about how that just looks better.
As you can see the Rani is a fabulous character who still has a lot of potential and really should have been brought back by now. Hopefully one day Steven Moffat or whoever takes over after him will see the obvious potential in the character and bring her back. Even if they don’t there will still be plenty of other stories across other mediums featuring Pip and Jane’s character after 30 years which is a pretty impressive feat for a writer.
Aside from the Rani, Pip and Jane also created a few other interesting villains. The Vervoids I felt were a great idea. They were intelligent plant life that sought to wipe out humanity. The Vervoids much like the Rani were not evil. They simply wanted to exterminate all animal life because they believed that intelligent plant life and intelligent animal life could never co exist. Animal life has to consume plant life in order to exist. The herbivores eat the plants, whilst the carnivores have to eat the herbivores. Thus the Vervoids are acting purely out of self preservation and once again just like with the Rani the heroes don’t have the complete moral high ground as its a simple question of our survival or theirs. Sadly neither can coexist and so one has to die.
The Tetraps meanwhile I also felt were an interesting idea. A little bit more straight forward than the Vervoids or the Rani, but they were still effective monsters. They were hideous bat like monsters who feed on plasma and needed the Rani to help them overcome it. I must admit I was terrified of them when I was younger. If nothing else the way they looked was very effective.
Overall I think its fair to say regardless of whatever you may think of their stories that Pip and Jane came up with some fairly interesting and original characters one of whom has gone down as one of the all time most iconic Doctor Who villains.
They wrote well for the 6th Doctor
I think that sadly Pip and Jane were among the few writers who really understood Colin’s Doctor on tv. Coin wanted his Doctor to be slightly more unpredictable and angry and alien in order to both contrast with the softer Davison his immediate predecessor and also to take the character back to his roots.
It was a wonderful take on the character and one that would later be replicated to some extent by Christopher Eccelston and Peter Capaldi to massive acclaim.
Sadly however a lot of the writers botched his ideas. Worst of all was Eric Saward. Saward to start with made Colin’s Doctor too nasty. There is a limit to how dark the Doctor can be. He can be grumpy, cold, even quite callous, but he can never, eve, ever be nasty for the sake of it. Sadly thanks to Saward Colin’ Doctor is the only one that does appear nasty such as when he tells Peri she is too fat or makes little quips about butchering his enemies. I don’t think the Doctor should ever do that as that not only is more the type of thing that an action hero does, but it also adds a certain sadistic streak to him.
Worse than that however was the way that Saward completely undermined Colin’s Doctor, often pushing him to the side in his stories like Revelation of the Daleks and making in completely inconsequential to the main action of the story. Saward apparently did this because he disliked Colin Baker’s performance in the role. He later slated Colin after leaving his position as script editor.
Pip and Jane meanwhile I think really not only understood what Colin was trying to do with the character, but also treated him with respect as a leading man in a way that Saward should have done. Pip Baker later said at the time that he didn’t understand why Saward would write a Doctor Who story and not have Doctor Who in it?
In all of Pip and Jane’s stories Colin’s Doctor is portrayed as somewhat arrogant, verbose and condescending, but you never get the impression he is nasty. Quite the opposite in fact, the Bakers show him to be very fond of his companions like Peri and Mel. We don’t see him insulting them for their looks. He does talk down to them, but that is nothing new. All of the Doctors do that to some extent. Hell it was even a plot point in Kill the Moon when Clara stormed out in rage at the way the Doctor was treating her like a child. Again something like that doesn’t just make the Doctor seem like a nasty cretin like telling Peri she is too fat. Its understandble as he is an alien after all, with a vast intellect, so naturally at certain points he may end up talking down to his human companions. Added to that the Doctor a man who went against the laws of the most powerful society in the entire universe is clearly quite arrogant and got a bit of an ego on him anyway.
Pip and Jane also show the 6th Doctor as being willing to do more violent and ruthless things, but again unlike in other stories during 6’s era there is a reason for it. It never feels like just mindless violence. When 6 sees what the Master and the Rani’s trap has done to Luke he very nearly guns them both down. This isn’t like him burning someone in acid and then making a light hearted quip about it that makes it look like he enjoyed doing it. Here we see the Doctor overcome with rage at what has happened to the point where he very nearly kills his two enemies. The fact that the Doctor is possibly going to resort to lethal force is treated very seriously by Pip and Jane. In Terror of the Vervoid’s meanwhile the Doctor is forced to commit genocide. This marked the first time we actually saw the Doctor wipe out a race. Previously he had wiped out the Daleks twice, but in both cases it wasn’t really touched upon at what he had done. Indeed it was made out to be a good thing because of how evil they were.
However with the Vervoids its actually a very disturbing moment when the 6th Doctor exterminates them and we see a look of guilt on his face. It had to be done, but at the same time he has exterminated an entire species so its a very dark moment for the character of the Doctor, but again not one that just makes him seem like a nasty, unsympathetic character for the sake of it.
Also finally Colin is also always given considerably more to do in Pip and Jane’s scripts. He is the one who is two steps ahead of everybody, who defeats the villains and who has the most screen time. Unlike in Revelation of Attack of the Cybermen we don’t move the action more to the side characters such as Lytton in Pip and Jane’s stories.
Whatever you may think of them it cannot be denied that they understood the character of the Doctor a lot better than other writers from round about that time in the shows history.
They were great writers for The Master
Now I think that Pip and Jane were actually among the best writers for the Master. A lot of people tend not to rate the two Master stories they wrote The Mark of the Rani and The Ultimate Foe as the Master was not the main villain in either story.
Still I think that they were able to flesh the Master out a lot more than other writers. I think that a lot of writers tended to just write the Master as an evil psychopath and that was that. Bob Holmes in Terror of the Autons just has him kill people because he’s evil. Christopher Bidmead similarly in Logopolis just has him do abhorrent things like murdering little old ladies for no reason other than because he is evil.
Russell T Davies meanwhile though I liked certain aspects of his Master, ultimately I feel he made him just too evil. Simm’s Master wasn’t just simply a would be conqueror, he was also a wife beater, a sadist who killed and tortured people for the hell of it, a cannibal, a misogynist, hated LGBT people, was a racist (look at what he says to Jack and Martha “Oh look the girlie and the freak. I’m not sure which is which”) he also is a sick pervert who gets off on hurting people and forces his wife to sleep with his masseuse for his own perverse enjoyment.
In my opinion this just made the Simm Master seem somewhat cartoonish. It was like they felt as though they needed to add EVERY single negative trait they could think of to the character. I am amazed he wasn’t a BNP voter too.
Missy meanwhile is just banana’s and that’s that.
In Pip and Jane’s two stories however we see many different sides to the Master. We see how he actually has limits. He is a ruthless character, but he does not ever kill unless he has to and actually as we see with Luke he is genuinely horrified and even perhaps guilty at someone being condemned to a gruesome fate like that. In The Ultimate Foe meanwhile we see how even the Master is horrified at the hypocrisy of the time lords for what they do to the earth despite claiming to never interfere. He argues at the very least that he is open about what he is.
Also unlike other writers I think that Pip and Jane always gave the Master a proper motivation. In The Mark of the Rani there is a reason for him to be there. He wants to find the Rani as he believes that he can use her intellect for his own purposes. Also Pip and Jane return to Malcolm Hulke’s motivation for the character of wanting to bring order to the universe. I always liked this motivation the best as I feel it made the Master quite a dark parallel to the Doctor. Both are renegade time lords who interfere in the affairs of other life forms, but in the Doctors case its to help people, in The Masters its just because he wants power. Both also see potential in humanity too which is why they always fight over earth, though again in the Masters case its just because he thinks he can use them.
In The Ultimate Foe meanwhile the Master once again has a reason to be there as he wants the Valeyard out of the way. When you think about it the Valeyard is the Masters worst nightmare. He is an evil Doctor. Now though the Doctor has been shown to be willing to murder the Master in the past, the Valeyard most likely would hunt the Master down and kill him. And whilst his own ego would never allow him to admit it, the Master knows he would have no chance against him as the Valeyard is the Doctor and the Doctor has always been able to defeat him easily. I love watching the Valeyard thrash the Master in The Ultimate Foe. Here the Master is dealing with a Doctor who is just as cruel as he is, a Doctor who is laughing at him, humiliating him and relishing in his downfall. In many ways the Master is the most scared and desperate character in that story, though as always he keeps his cool, you can tell how scared he is. The Valeyard winning and escaping into the universe to hunt him down is his worst nightmare. The scene of the Master’s weaponry bouncing off of the Valeyard who laughs maniacally and sneers back “You really are a second rate adversary” is reminiscent of the image of a giant god like Doctor hovering over the Master and laughing at him in The Mind of Evil as well as a foreshadowing of the giant god like Tenth Doctor hovering over him and reducing him to a cowering mess in “The Last of the Time Lords”.
Whilst the Master was not the main villain in either The Ultimate Foe or The Mark of the Rani I don’t feel he was undermined in either story.
In The Mark of the Rani we see the Master manipulate the Rani. Again Pip and Jane clearly understand what it is that makes the Master such a compelling character is the way he is able to get under people’s skin and twist their minds. We see him slowly throughout the story coerce the Rani and play on her emotional weaknesses like her vanity to the point where she ends up despite her disdain for him forming an alliance with him. I actually think that the Rani and the Master balance each other out quite well. The Rani obviously has much better technical knowledge than the Master. However at the same time because he has more experience in terms of being an outlaw than she does then she still needs his help. In many ways they are like an evil version of The Doctor and Romana. The Doctor and Romana helped balance each other out in a similar way as Romana had more technical knowledge than the Doctor who similarly had more experience. A story pitting the Doctor and Romana against the Master and the Rani I think would be excellent.
At the same time in the Ultimate Foe we see the Master manipulate everyone around him from the time lords to the Doctor to the Valeyard to Glitz. The Master sits from behind the scenes and is two steps ahead of everyone. He figures out the Valeyard’s identity, he figures out what the time lords were up to and he blows their cover.
I wish that Pip and Jane had had a chance to write a story with the Master as the main villain. I’d say that the best writers for the Master were Bob Holmes (for the Deadly Assassin), Terrence Dicks, Malcolm Hulke and Pip and Jane in that order.
Pip and Jane as far as I’m concerned unlike Russell T Davies or Steven Moffat stayed true to the Master’s character. They showed him as wanting to bring order to the universe, only killing if he had to, and as a manipulative character who get twist anybody from Peri to The Rani to the high council of the Time lords to even the Doctors minds for his own ends. At the same time however they also helped flesh out his character somewhat by giving him a chance to interact with other characters like the Rani and The Valeyard as well as showing us the limits to his evil and what he was prepared to do.
Their Stories Are Not As Bad As People Claim
Granted this is more subjective, but still I’d like to make a case for their stories.
The Mark of the Rani I think is a classic story. I find the dynamic between the three time lord characters alone to be fascinating. They are such different characters and its great watching how they play off of one another. In some ways they are almost like a big dysfunctional family with the Master and the Doctor being the two squabbling brothers and the Rani being the older sister telling them to shut up. Its also gives us an insight into just how powerful the Time Lords are. The Master and the Doctor seem like such all powerful, god like creatures to us, but to another time lord like the Rani they are just two losers whose constant battle with each other over planets like earth wont even register to the time lords back on Gallifrey.
Terror of the Vervoids meanwhile I think is a decent enough story. Its not on the level of The Mark of the Rani but Id say its probably the best of the Trial season. The Vervoids are a great idea, there are some horrifying moments such as the woman who is half way to becoming a Vervoid (I could never watch that as a child it scared me so much) and its overall quite an entertaining whodunnit mystery story.
The Ultimate Foe episode 14 is not their best work, but I think considering they had 3 days to write it I think it holds up rather well. There are some terrific moments like watching the Valeyard own the Master as well as some creepy moments in Matrix. Sadly yes a lot of the dialogue leaves much to be desired and the resolution is rushed, but again because the whole bloody thing was rushed in about 3 days I think they did as good a job as anyone could.
Time and the Rani is the only story of theirs that I would agree was terrible. There really is very little I can say that is good about this story. Again however much like the Ultimate Foe this story suffered from problems that weren’t entirely the Bakers fault. Not only was Time and the Rani a rush job (as all of season 24 was), but John Nathan Turner was also on the urging of Michael Grade forced to inject more overt comedy into the show which resulted in Time and the Rani really becoming a total pantomime.
No one really likes Time and the Rani. Even the Bakers themselves said that it wasn’t the type of Doctor Who story they would have wanted to have written. They said if given the choice they’d much rather have written a more serious story than a comical one.
Okay they wrote a shit story. Everyone does, Terry Nation gave us the Android Invasion, Bob Holmes gave us the Space Pirates, Terrance Dicks gave us Robot, Russell T Davies gave us Love and Monsters, and Steven Moffat gave us Dark Water/Death in Heaven which I consider to be the worst Doctor Who story ever made. It makes Time and The Rani look like Pyramids of Mars!
Still one bad story shouldn’t eclipse a writers entire career which I often feel happens with Time and the Rani. Personally that one story aside I think the rest of Pip and Jane’s output ranges fro good to classic.
Hopefully you may have a softer opinion of Pip and Jane Baker after reading this. I doubt it but still consider the points I have raised here. They did often have to work under a lot harder conditions than many other writers including on both The Ultimate Foe and Time and the Rani. Both of those stories had to be rushed. The Ultimate Foe had to be written in 3 days and Time and the Rani had to be written in a more comical, over the top way at the behest of both the producer and the controller of the BBC (who secretely or perhaps not so secretely wanted to kill the show!).
Despite this however the two did still manage to create a new and iconic villain and I feel also give Colin Baker some of the best material he ever had on television as the Doctor.
I’m not saying they were perfect. I would agree that dialogue was their biggest problem. I didn’t mind it when they gave villains like the Master and the Valeyard big verbose, flowery dialogue as I felt that suited their characters, but it got a bit much when they had every character talk like that. Still again all writers have their faults and I’ll take Pip and Jane’s most flowery line of dialogue “There is nothing you can do to halt the catharsis of spurious mortality” over this little gem from Chris Chibnall.
“When was the last time you came so hard, and so long you forgot where you are? “
Overall whilst they may not have been the best writers, I think they understood and respected the show and knew how to write enjoyable, straight forward adventures and ultimately with the Rani they made a big contribution to the show’s history that has still not been forgotten and that is more than most writers who have worked on the series can say including both Eric Saward and Chris Chibnall.