Doctor Who actor Kate O'Mara dies at 74

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Apr 29, 2019, 7:24 AM EDT (Updated)

The woman who brought the renegade Time Lord The Rani to life has passed.

The waning years of the John-Nathan Turner era of Doctor Who were not exactly known as the high point of the series, but there were a few bright spots. High among them is Kate O'Mara's performance as that other renegade Time Lord, The Rani.

Of course, O'Mara's career stretches far beyond the reaches of Doctor Who. As a career TV actor, she played roles on Howards' Way and Absolutely Fabulous and, of course, opposite Joan Collins on Dynasty. Collins herself tweeted on the subject of O'Mara's passing, "Tragic news about Kate O'Mara , we had great fun on Dynasty when she played my sister Caress... RIP."

But, naturally, we know her best as The Rani on Doctor Who. Which, when you think about it, is pretty bloody impressive, considering she appeared in only two serials and a special. But there was something to that evil, unethical scientist that kept us hoping she'd turn up again. And that something, I think, was O'Mara's delightfully over-the-top performance. On its own, the idea of a Time Lord using her intelligence as a means to experiment unethically on other species was already a nice spin from the usual mustache twirling of the Master. But it was O'Mara who gave the character her charm.

Even though it had been 20 years since her last Who appearance (in Dimensions in Time, good grief), O'Mara was still game for a return. On the subject of playing The Rani again, O'Mara said, "If you put a much older woman in Doctor Who, they can identify with it. I think it's quite an interesting concept, and if you remember things like Grimm's fairy tales, the older woman is often the villainess, often the terrifying figure -- why I do not know, but often she is. I think it's an idea to be exploited."

I, for one, had been hopeful her words would be heard by Moffat and company, even if only for a regeneration scene.

Former Doctor Colin Baker was also grief-stricken by the news, tweeting, "Oh my goodness.  Kate O'Mara is no longer with us.  Sad sad news.  A delightful, committed and talented lady and actress.  We are the poorer."

O'Mara passed this Sunday, March 30, and is survived by her sister, actress Belinda Caroll.

We've included a host of Rani clips below. Enjoy them, and share your memories of her with us.

(via The Independent)