Actress Kate O’Mara, whose career included many interesting appearances alongside her role as renegade Time Lady the Rani in Doctor Who, has died aged 74, it has been announced.
A vegetarian and animal rights activist, O’Mara was born 10 August 1939 and made her first appearance on stage in a 1963 production of The Merchant of Venice and went on to feature in many shows on TV and on stage. During her career she was married to actors Richard Willis and Jeremy Young, and was sister to actress Belinda Carroll.
Also known for her appearances in Dynasty as Caress Morell (sister to Joan Collins’ Alexis Carrington), as Laura Wilde in Britain’s “answer to Dynasty” Howards’ Way, the bad-as-it-sounds cross-channel ferry soap opera Triangle (not to mention an early career high in a pair of Hammer Horror movies before winning a role in the popular BBC series The Brothers opposite Colin Baker), O’Mara might have been more familiar to modern TV viewers from appearances in Bad Girls and Absolutely Fabulous. Most recently she played Marlene Dietrich in a stage play entitled Lunch with Marlene and Mrs Cheveley in Oscar Wilde’s stage play An Ideal Husband (both 2008).
Kate O’Mara’s two televised appearances as the Rani in Doctor Who were in The Mark of the Rani (1985) and Time of the Rani (1987), the latter marking the introduction of Sylvester McCoy. She also appeared in Dimensions in Time in 1993 for Children in Need and reprised her Time Lady villain in 2000’s audio The Rani Reaps the Whirlwind. All of the Rani’s appearances except Dimensions in Time were written by husband and wife duo Pip and Jane Baker, who famously had the actress imitating Bonnie Langford’s Melanie Bush (quite convincingly, it should be added) in Time and the Rani.
The Rani first appeared against Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor in the entertaining 1985 serial The Mark of the Rani (which also featured Anthony Ainley as the Master in an evil Time Lord double team against the Doctor). Baker today recalled the actress, 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
— Colin Baker (@SawbonesHex) March 30, 2014
It seemed that O’Mara had hoping for a possible return to Doctor Who, observing the importance of age in a female villain during 2013’s 50th anniversary celebrations:
I think it’s quite an interesting concept and if you remember things like Grimm’s Fairytales, 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.
Not only an actress but a writer as well (two novels and two non-fiction works to her name) the actress had been unwell recently, although she had been performing her one-woman show “An Evening With Kate O’Mara” until late 2013.
Perhaps one of Britain’s most underrated actresses, Kate O’Mara had a lot of fans around the world (most notably among Doctor Who and Dynasty fandom). She’ll be missed.