Serial SS5 – The Worm of the Rani
The Worm of the Rani
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O'
Serial SS5 – The Worm of the Rani -
The Doctor is still recovering from the baffling insanity that was his trial by his fellow Time Lords – a bewildering rollercoaster of a season that revealed, amongst other things that the Earth was nuked by the Time Lords to hide their intergalactic pornography catalogue, that his companion Peri was brutally destroyed and her body stolen by a sexually confused slug, that he is destined to accompany Melanie Jane Bush and fight phallic plant monsters, and that in a future incarnation he will go star staring mad, wearing black bin liners on his head and start referring to himself as the Valeyard.
As he and Mel – a companion who, for reasons which not need be gone into here, he has yet to meet and is only travelling with him by temporal paradox – leave Gallifrey under the tyrannical rule of the Doctor’s arch-enemy the Bastard, the Doctor decides what he really needs right now is a drink.
Landing the time machine on a barren nowhere asteroid, the Doctor kicks Mel out the door and promises to pick her up at some point in the future, when all of this stuff actually makes sense.
The Doctor programs the TARDIS to take him to Earth, 1930s Berlin so he can visit Bianca’s – a gay nightclub that acts as a bolt hole for radicals, intellectuals, businessmen, wanderers and those who intend to get so utterly wasted they can forget that there is a war on.
The Time Lord senses something amiss as the Nazi thugs that patrol the streets outside the club drag him inside. Is it the club owner singing an anachronistic medley of ABBA songs? The faint buzz that denotes the entire club is bristling with surveillance devices? Or the fact his one-time companion Jo Grant (now a semi-Time Lord hybrid mastermind known as the Rani) already at the bar, incredibly drunk?
The Rani explains that she and her husband the Bastard were undergoing trial separation after their disastrous vacation in Singapore, and apparently now he wants her to be his Queen of Time as he subjugates Gallifrey and prepares to conquer the universe. She’s popped into Bianca’s for one last drink.
The Doctor broods that now the Bastard controls the seat of the Time Lords, the universe will now be a very different place – with lots more explosions, gritty mercenaries and time travel will no longer be limited to a bunch of stuffed shirts who don’t know what century they’re watching. Now the Doctor’s timeline-devastating antics, which once set him apart from the rest, will be positively pedestrian.
Bursting into tears, the Doctor manages to get a free tequila slammer off the barmaid, along with a dinky little cocktail umbrella. The Rani, meanwhile, explains in her spare time she was genetically reengineering some earthworms so they can survive being left in bottles of alcohol.
The Doctor drains his glass and muses that Time Lords are bit like worms... slippery, hard to pin down, able to regenerate damage their bodies. "But you can’t transmigrate yourself out of the time stream, can you?" he grins, before eating one of the worms.
The owner of the club, Henry, complains that the Doctor’s increasing drunken behavior is disturbing the other patrons as the Time Lord starts shouting that destiny can’t hold him and he is not going to turn into some spiteful district attorney hurling beach balls at people.
The Rani agrees to drag the Doctor into a boot as he rants that the nightclub is not what it SEEMS to be! On the way, the dissolute Time Lord steals more bottles of the house specialty – a mixture of schnapps and tequila, making the most disgusting and abhorrent alcoholic beverage known to the human race: a Mexican Hitler.
Finally, the Rani forces the Doctor out into the impenetrable fog towards the Bertisgarten and tries to bundle him into a taxi, but to no avail. The Doctor instead falls into the gutter and is dubbed ‘tired and emotional’ by Alice and Ballast – a pair of disreputable physics who accidentally destroyed an entire star system when they tried to microwave a tinfoil-covered burrito.
The Doctor hangs onto their legs and so is unwittingly hauled back into the nightclub once more. By now, the Doctor is so utterly out of it, the strange shadow wraiths that dance and giggle and snarl at him are lost in a strange collage of lobsters and lizards, and so the Doctor does not notice them at all.
The Rani, however, does notice them and uses a laser gun built into her chunky wrist bracelet to shoot down the alien shadows, musing that somehow Bianca’s is not just a German nightclub for raving homosexuals, but might be corrupting the causal nexus of the universe itself.
The Rani explains this to the Doctor as he downs a neat bottle of Normandy Chablis, and the Doctor muses that the one place you can be sure of finding wine and cabaret is where the world is unraveling, before ranting angrily about the "bunch of posers" who recently put him on trial and how, after saving every planet in the known universe fifteen times, a BIT of gratitude would be welcome!
The Rani is then dragged by the Doctor out onto the dance floor, but gets incredibly dizzy and falls over. The Doctor realizes that the shadows in the nightclub are actually living things, as the Rani was explaining for the last fifteen minutes, before passing out.
Bianca starts to sing "Pretty Vacant", whipping the club’s clientelle into a punk-fueled vicious free-fall, oblivious to the screams of the Doctor who is caught in the middle of it.
Finally, the Doctor manages to escape the violence and grabs a bottle of French Bordeaux he uses to dull the pain. He then realizes that the whole nightclub is actually another TARDIS and the mescal-engorged worms in all the bottles are actually attempting to take over the universe and destroy the flow of history by getting everyone so drunk that even time itself gets hungover and stops forever.
The Rani jeers that if she had a penny for each time the Doctor claimed that evil genetically-modified worms were behind schemes to destroy the universe, she’d be richer than that forgettable Mexican dude who is in fact richer than Bill Gates.
The Doctor starts shouting that the mescal worms are taking over his brain and forcing him to do their evil bidding but, again, the Doctor says this all the time and the Rani is not remotely suspicious.
That is, she isn’t suspicious until the Doctor picks up the pump-action shot gun behind the bar and tries to blow a hole in the Rani’s elegant hair do.
The Rani, thinking quickly, points out that is precisely this sort of spiteful and anti-social behavior which will lead the Doctor to his ultimate destiny – the pathetic, lonely loser known as the Valeyard!
The Doctor notes that she’s right, and fires his gun repeatedly at the chaise-lounge, bitching that when the Rani meets the amalgamation of HER dark side who wants to steal her remaining regenerations, maybe then she’ll understand what he’s going through.
"Did someone call?" Bianca laughs, revealing that by staggering coincidence, she IS the Rani’s dark future incarnation who wants her earlier self’s remaining regenerations.
The Doctor bursts into tears as once again, his attempts to be a trend setter fail horribly. How long before just anyone can be haunted by their evil future selves coming up with incredible stupid master plans!
The Doctor strides out to get a taxi, but then strides back in again as he is very thirsty and there are still some bottles of orange Cointreau full on the table. He then flirts with one of the shadows and asks it to get him a drink, since the shadows are the potential futures of all those evil mescal engorged worms...
The Rani takes the stage mike and starts a rousing rendition of Motorhead’s "The Ace of Spades", which turns the clients once more into wild, raving violent punks, causing a rumble to envelope Bianca and she is kicked to death by the ravers.
The Rani doesn’t seem that fussed at this particular dark twist of fate, and continues headbanging to music. The clients start smashing all the bottles and jumping up and down on the worms within, grinding them down into pate.
The evil worm plans are ruined and the Doctor celebrates by inventing a new cocktail – which he names after the Rani to celebrate her saving the entire universe.
Now fueled with Dutch courage, the Doctor snatches a bottle of Napoleon brandy and staggers back to the TARDIS to find this mysterious Grant Markham everyone seems to be talking about, or failing him, team up with Frobisher again...
As the Rani is left in the ruins of the nightclub, a small Scottish man with a Panama hat and a question mark umbrella staggers in, and asks for something wet and alcoholic, before tripping over Bianca’s corpse and knocking himself unconscious.
Somewhat ambiguously, the Rani empties a glass of the new cocktail on the unconscious Scotsman and then follows it with a lighted match, before striding out of the club.
The story ends as the Seventh Doctor (for it is he!) recovers consciousness to realize he is on fire and starts running around screaming for some kind of fire extinguishing help, while all the other patrons point and laugh at him...
Book(s)/Other Related -
Doctor Who Needs Worming (Canada Only)
Find Your Fate: Race Against Time and the Rani
The Rani Reaps A Whirlwind Remix Album
Fluffs - "Life is a cabernet, old chum!".
There’s a valiant attempt to describe evolution as a biomechanical process, but it’s all ripped off from Mud Tide.
Links and References -
The Seventh Doctor complains to the bartender about the events of "Go-Book-A-Room!" and how unrealistic the plotting was.
Untelevised Misadventures -
The Rani implies that the bartender is actually a slumming Irving Braxiatel trying to pay off his student loan from Prydon Academy.
Groovy DVD Extras -
The Rani’s cover version of "Gimme Some Lovin!".
Dialogue Disasters –
Bianca: Light my ciggie Dah-ling and rest your head on my Bosom!
Rani: What’s so bad about being drunk?
Doctor: Who was it who said, "Ask a glass of water?"
Rani: One of your script editors, ducks. Douglas Adams, wasn’t it?
Doctor: So it was! Chin-chin!
Bianca: Fancy a bonk-ette?
Doctor: You are the same Alice and Ballast who collapsed an entire star system while demonstrating such "stability"?
Ballast: Miaow, pussycats!
Alice: Gasp! Who CAN he mean?!
Ballast: Well done, Time Lords! Very good!
Alice: Ooh, bravo, Doctor!
Rani: Oh, for the love of God, will you two just SHUT THE FUCK UP!
Dialogue Triumphs -
Rani: What’s in this?
Doctor: Brandy, Methylated Spirits, Absinthe, Pernod, pain stripper, Mister Sheen, transmission fluid, Drambuie and the secret ingredient: slug pellets! It’s not so much Hair of the Dog, more Worm of the Rani!
Rani: I violently hate you.
Bianca: I’d like to teach
The universe to sing
In perfect harmony...
Doctor: I don’t judge people, I judge their libidos! I judge the magnitude of their peccadilloes, their fetishes! And I try to join in!
Viewer Quotes -
"Why must these missing adventures always focus on aspects of the show’s past? Why are they so fascinated with the past? Why can’t Big Finish do something new? Why can’t they push the envelope a bit, just for once? Apart from those times they did musicals with the Goodies, making Lavros a good guy, telling stories in completely the wrong order and sending the show into a completely different universe, all they’ve done is dry hump the rigor mortis-ridden corpse of Doctor Who!"
- Mad Larry The Pirate King (2005)
"It's exactly the sort of thing you'd expect, as long as you expected exactly what it was and made absolutely no mistakes at all and are used to trans-dimensional nightclubs infested by evil tequila worms who need the Rani’s future incarnations to destroy the universe with punk rock. So, was I expecting this? Hell no, I’m normal!"
- Dave Restal (2006)
"For Magrs, this is positively trad!" - Andrew Beeblebrox (2004)
"Does Gay Russell have a peculiar preoccupation with the Sixth Doctor? He always seems to direct the stories with Colin Baker in it. The man’s obsessed. Now me, I’m just enthusiastic, as my trilogy of tribute websites to the Sixth Doctor and the numerous restraining orders placed on me by Baker is something that the media have really blown out of proportion. As for The Worm of the Rani, I do so despise stories that are complicated and convoluted and draw so heavily on Doctor Who mythology. It’s so much stale fan fiction – worse than the rubbish RTD dares offer us! – with all these established concepts. Now, for a good Sixth Doctor tale, I recommend my magnum opus Reformation of the Dustbins, where the Doctor and Mel meet up with a Dull taskforce to conquer Fargo where Lavros and the Imperials are hiding from a deadly Mo’Lovin virus that forced them to hide in one huge DARDIS shaped like the Dustbin Emperor! Now THAT is something worth checking out!"
- Ron Mallet (2005)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"The Worm of the Rani is a story had gone beyond me in its weirdness."
Colin Baker Speaks!
"I first worked with Katy Manning in 1977, in a play called Last Man In with Lionel Blair as the aardvark who I had to chase round and round a country garden. That may not actually have been scripted, as we were all really stoned at the time, but the audience laughed. A lot. Some of them experienced breathing difficulties. Anyway, I admit I was SLIGHTLY wary about facing off against the Rani and Katy again – especially as Peter Davison hadn’t recovered from his story with her. Poor chap’s still on his medication. Still, we were all popping pills after Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass. What a mindfuck THAT was, eh?"
Rumors & Facts –
The Worm of the Rani is a story that will win no awards for originality but neither will a lot of Doctor Who. And neither will I. Do they even hand out awards for originality nowadays? I mean, on paper, such a prize sounds... unoriginal.
The Worm and the Rani draws upon the Sixth Doctor’s reactions to the preceding events of Mistrial Of A Time Lord strongly, showing him uncharacteristically alcoholic, but because it’s pitched unsteadily between the blustery, almost constipated television persona and the more passion fruit and pop cultured Doctor he's become on audio the outcome is not very successful... but this is understandable, some say even forgivable, given the events behind the scenes.
2004 would prove to be a year not so much a fine wine for Big Finish, but a flat tin of Tesco Value Cider. After the incredibly exhausting Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass, the soul-crushing disappointment that the BBC had turned to RTD rather than BF to create a new TV series of Doctor Who, and the effort of burying Nicholas Briggs alive... again... for the fifth time that week... the production team were on the point of collapse. After all, they just weren’t USED to doing honest day’s work.
Worse they then had five new McGann stories to record, as well as introducing a new companion, and it rapidly became obvious to all involved that by the time they got themselves organized, the season opener by Rob Shearman (tentatively entitled "Get Stuffed, Big Finish") would be a month overdue and leave a disastrous gap in the schedule.
Panic gripped the production team, and Jason Haigh-Ellory reported to the Evening Standard that he was a teapot. Gay Russell realized to his absolute horror that bar a handful of Eighth Doctor proposals that Big Finish had absolutely no material – not just for the emergency story they needed, but for the whole of the next two years.
Russell later admitted going on a drunken bender and burning all the scripts in a bonfire that spelled out the words DAMN YOU RTD was not a sensible move and was, in all honestly, not likely to be part of Big Finish’s overall business plan.
In absolute, mind-numbing desperation, Russell declared the open submissions policy – and in Big Finish, it became the Day of the Fan Fic Writer. Fanwank, retcons, angst and squee were as welcome now, as sidesteps to the New Adventures and DWM comic strips once were. 2004 would be the Year of Diversification. It would also be the Year of Killing Time Until March 24.
Submissions began to pile up, but none of them could be used in time for the all important fifty-first release from Big Finish. Finally, as Alan Barnes was about to hang himself from the highest yardarms in the recording studios, he discovered a vast heap of recordings of outtakes and edited scenes from the recordings of the Excelsior trilogy some twelve months previously – including over three hours of Colin Baker and Katy Manning hurling abuse at each other as they downed a bottle of vodka each.
JHE realized that all they had to do was edit the outtakes into a new storyline, record a few bridging scenes and they were laughing! Laughing so hard that people started to become suspicious of those empty canisters of nitrous oxide being pumped straight into the ventilation system!
But it would take a unique – and very twisted – mind to work out a plot that could realistically use the ‘dialogue’ betwixt Baker and Manning into something even remotely understandable as a plot. And since Nicholas Briggs was now buried at beside the M4 motorway, that left only Paul Margrs available.
Margrs’ two prior stories – The Stoned of Venice and Excelsior Yawns – had been met with not so much cautious optimism by the public, but more outright disbelief. In fact, when quizzed, most people assumed Margrs was not a human being but in fact a jar of dried pasta that had accidentally fallen onto a keyboard and by sheer chance produced two incredibly baffling scripts for Big Finish.
Margrs was totally unsurprised when Russell and JHE turned up begging at his remote Italian villa by the black swamp, and explained he had already the perfect script for them. Entitled simply "She’s A Devil Woman With Evil On Her Mind" it was a convenient two-hander script for the Sixth Doctor and Iris Wildthyme, set in the Cafes de Poetes in Occupied France 1943.
Russell had previous rejected a very similar script – "Doctor Who And The Liberation of France Is At Hand!" by Simon A Forward – but things were desperate, and they accepted the script. Unfortunately, it became obvious that the script was even MORE surreal than they expected!
SADWWEOHM featured the Sixth Doctor and Iris fighting alcoholic dependency as they suffer flashbacks to the Vietnam War, before the Doctor encounters the Valeyard working as a barman in a scene outright plagiarized from The Shining, in which the Valeyard explains he turned evil after the other 44 Cousins of the House of Lungbarrow tied him to a grand piano for six months and used him as an ashtray. It also turned out that Iris Wildthyme was, in fact, a future incarnation of the Valeyard during a botched backdoor sex change which left the dark amalgamation of evil waking up naked in a bath of ice, sans two stomachs and a kidney!
And that was just the first episode!
Clearly, they needed a second writer to make sense of the scripts provided by Margrs. Luckily, Steve Cole happened to be passing the studio at the time. Of course, Cole and Russell had vowed never to work with each other again after the debacle of their previous Colin Baker effort – The Apocalypse Elephant.
In the normal course of events, Cole would have refused point blank with work with Big Finish ever again... apart from the fact he still work with them regularly of course. But what stopped this confusing segue from even being brought up in conversation was Cole’s pathological hatred of Paul Margrs. Ever since Margrs had startled peddling Iris Wildthyme stories guest starring the Doctor to the BBC Books range, he and Cole had been the most deadliest of enemies.
When Margrs was informed that Cole would be acting as script editor for his story, Margrs sneered, "Maybe I LIKE my plots having massive holes in them. Did you consider that, marshmallow ass?"
Cole’s reasonable rejoinder that no one else in the entire world shared that feeling lead to a pitched battle as Margrs and Cole fought for control of the typewriter, repeatedly smashing empty bottles of duty-free scotch over their heads, clubbing each other with easily-breakable furniture, and lots of gory slapstick with frying pans.
As the rest of the production team stopped even PRETENDING to work and just sat and watched the carnage like a particularly violent tennis match, the two writers thrashed out a plot involving drinking, musicals, pointless continuity, evil alternate timelines, and an army of mescal-engorged worms.
Cole came up the ideas of damaged TARDISes wrecking the causal nexus, and a rationale on why mescal worms are trying to conquer the universe but Margrs retaliated with a cliffhanger where a punk song could punch a whole in reality, and this lead to an even MORE furious argument that inspired the dance floor riots that appeared in the finished episode.
Margrs then attempted to use the old twist from his previous audio The Stoned of Venice by getting a mysterious female masquerading as a nobody to give the story a central twist leading to reams of incoherent technobabble. Cole parried this thrust by adding a complicated subplot of plotting and counterplotting with no less than thirty six factions scheming away against each other in an "exotic cocktail" of masterful, sublime, unforgettable and uproarious plotting.
Margrs responded by mixing his own "exotic cocktail" of masterful, sublime, unforgettable, uproarious, brilliant, dazzling and incredibly toxic substances, which he then doused Cole with, in the hope it would be high flammable. This proved not to be the case and Cole repeatedly kicked his co-writer in the head until he fell over.
Finally, Margrs announced that the Valeyard "gave him the flaming horn!" and so disgusted Cole, he was taken unaware by his enemy, who smashed his head against a laptop twenty-six times until Cole was rendered comatose and no longer able to interfere with the creative process like the fascist we all knew he was.
Thus, the team were left with the baffling cabaret plot involving the Attack of the Lethal Alcohol-Soaked Earthworms – which Russell himself was forced to portray since Briggs was buried underground and was unlikely to break free of his lead-lined coffin until well after lunch.
In four hours of editing, the story was complete. The only thing left to sort out was the title – SADWWEOHM was dropped in favor of The Worming, then The Wormery, then The Dormitory, then Two Pints of Lager And a Packet Of Worms, Eurotrash of TIME!, The Floorshow of Destruction, The Destructive Floorshow, The Deadly Floorshow, The Doom Matinee, The Comic Opera of Doom, The Enemy Within, and I Hate Paul Margrs He Is A Psycho!
Upon release, a strong sense of unease fell over Big Finish. Had The Worm of the Rani struck the right balance between drama and humor? Was it a highly enjoyable romp? Would it hit the right notes? Would be diverting and entertaining and reaffirm Big Finish’s place in a new and dangerous future where Doctor Who was a mainstream experience and not subscriber-only fan garbage? Or would it be considered the campest, larger than life crap Big Finish had ever produced?
Luckily, in the month long hangovers that resulted from Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass and the lack of publicity, most consumers mistook the story for a subscriber-only uncanonical freebie, and after three years surprisingly few people have actually bothered to listen to it.
Finally, while sorting through the archives, Ian Potter discovered a recording of when Sylvester McCoy arrived early to recording one day and pissed about with the microphone until the others arrived.
Thus, this was crudely stapled onto the end of The Worm of the Rani...
"In Berlin We Talked!" by Sylvester McCoy and Time’s Cabaret
I always seem to meet you in
Such unexpected places
In scenes that drift together
With some strange attraction
A Time Lord hybrid lady
With thirteen different faces
I'll always look for you
In unexpected places
I can't deny
You always try
To kill me and take
Over the world but
In Berlin we talked!
In Berlin we talked!
In Berlin we talked!
In Berlin we talked!
I always dreamed to meet you in
Such unexpected places
We seem to shift together
With some strange reaction
Why did you have to fall
In love with the Bastard?
I’ll always look for you
In secret underground bases.
Who can deny
She’s an amoral bitch?
Cause I'll always be
Jealous of her hair
Disturb my eyes
But I'll always be
Lost in her quarry...
But in Berlin we talked!
In Berlin we talked!
In Berlin we talked!
In Berlin we talked!
But in Berlin we talked,
In Berlin we talked!
In Berlin we talked!
In Berlin we talked...