Gillian Anderson, known to many as Agent Scully from The X-Files, is heading to a brand new science-fiction franchise, as she prepares to appear in Doctor Who. Anderson, according to a report from London's Daily Telegraph, will appear as The Rani, acting opposite Matt Smith's Doctor.
An insider for the show said of Anderson "Gillian obviously has a massive sci-fi following and it's felt that it would be a major coup to have her appear in Doctor Who." They continued saying, "The team behind the show are keen for the next Doctor to have lots of new enemies and Gillian would be a glamorous and impressive addition to the list. The Rani would be a perfect role for her as the character used to be regarded as one of the Doctor's most deadly opponents."
Rani originally was played by Kate O'Mara and faced off against the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker), and was responsible for the Doctor's regeneration into the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy). Rani is a renegade Time Lord (or Time Lady, as the case may be), who places the importance of her research over any other considerations, including the lives of innocent beings. She was originally created to be a recurring foil to The Doctor, in much the same way that The Master was, but she only appeared in two storylines before Doctor Who was taken off the air in the 1980s. When the Master re-appeared in the third season of the revived Doctor Who, showrunner Russel T. Davies joked that the hand which claimed the Master's ring was that of Rani. Davies said he had no plans to use that storyline himself, but said it was included for future production teams who wanted to bring either the Master or Rani back.
Anderson's Rani will face off against Smith's Doctor sometime in 2010, when the next full season of Doctor Who airs. However, that won't be the first chance Anderson has to encounter the Doctor - she'll be appearing on London stages in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House acting opposite former Doctor Who, Christopher Eccelston.