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From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

"Well, here we go again..."
―Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
The Doctor confronts the Great One
Planet of the Spiders
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 11
Story Number: 74
Doctor: Third Doctor (regenerates)
Fourth Doctor (introduction at end)
Companions: Sarah Jane Smith
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Captain Mike Yates
Writer: Robert Sloman
Director: Barry Letts
Broadcast: 4th May - 8th June 1974
Format: 6 25-minute episodes
Previous Story: The Monster of Peladon
Following Story: Robot

Planet of the Spiders was the fifth and final story of Season 11. It marked the final appearance of Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor and the first appearance (uncredited) of Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor. The character of Mike Yates also makes his final appearance.



The blue crystal that the Doctor took from Metebelis III in a previous adventure is desperately sought by the Eight Legs, a race of mutated spiders, as the final element in their plan for universal domination. With help from an old mentor, the Doctor realizes the only way to foil the plot is to make the ultimate sacrifice. The Doctor must risk death to return to the cave of the Great One and save the universe.



Part One

Mike Yates, discharged from UNIT and recuperating at a rural Buddhist meditation center, is concerned about a small group who meet secretly in the basement; he suspects they may be attempting to summon something evil through their meditation. Meanwhile, The Doctor is researching psychic energy and enlists the assistance of a clairvoyant, Professor Herbert Clegg. His experiments backfire when Clegg's fixation on the Metebelis crystal (which Jo Grant had recently returned to the Doctor) leads to his seeing giant spiders, and he dies of a fright-induced heart attack. Mike enlists the assistance of Sarah Jane, whose initial skepticism is erased after they are nearly run off the road by a hallucinatory tractor. Sneaking into the basement they see the group, led by Lupton, summon a giant spider (similar to the ones Clegg saw) into existence.

Part Two

The giant spider melds with Lupton, and together they infiltrate UNIT and steal the blue crystal, leading to a lengthy chase involving the Whomobile, a small helicopter, a hovercraft, and a speedboat. The Doctor finally catches up to Lupton's boat, but when he jumps on board, Lupton vanishes.

Part Three

Lupton re-appears at the meditation center, secretly observed by the simple-minded handyman Tommy, who later steals the crystal to add to his collection of 'pretties'. The Doctor and Sarah Jane investigate the meditation center. Exploring the basement Sarah steps on Lupton's mandala and is transported to Metebelis III, where a small group of humans are held in bondage by the giant spiders, who refer to themselves as the Eight Legs. The humans are descendants of survivors of a crashed spaceship, and the Eight Legs were common spiders onboard that became mutated by radiation from the blue crystals. The Doctor follows in his TARDIS to rescue Sarah Jane, but is incapacitated by the Eight Legs' human guards.

Part Four

On Metebelis III, the Doctor lingers in a coma. Tommy's brain is healed when he looks deep into the crystal. Lupton becomes embroiled in a plot led by his spider host against the Eight Leg Queen. The Doctor recovers thanks to a machine Sarah retrieved for him from the TARDIS. In doing so however, she is captured by the Eight Legs. The Doctor finds a type of stone which nullifies the effects of the Eight Legs' energy rays, which the humans will use in their rebellion. The Doctor attempts to rescue Sarah Jane, but is captured again by the Eight Legs as well.

Part Five

The Doctor escapes from his cocoon, and reaches the mouth of the cave of the Great One, who warns him not to enter due to the lethal radiation within. She orders him to return the blue crystal that he stole, and humiliates him by forcing him to march in a circle like a tin soldier via her psychic power. The Doctor is too overcome by fear to face her, and escapes with Sarah Jane back to Earth in the TARDIS. They meet the leader of the meditation center, the Abbott K'anpo Rimpoche. The Doctor is astounded to discover an old friend; K'anpo is his former mentor, a fellow renegade Time Lord now enjoying peaceful exile on Earth. Sarah Jane is revealed to be under the control of the Queen, which explains how she and the Doctor escaped so easily. With the blue crystal, which Tommy had given to K'anpo, the Doctor is able to free her mind. Meanwhile Lupton's followers, possessed by the Eight Legs, fire telekinetic force at Tommy, the only person standing in the way of their taking the crystal.

Part Six

The attack is repulsed with the help of Tommy, but K'anpo is injured and forced to regenerate by merging with his assistant, Cho Je, who was a projection of K'anpo's own conscience. The Doctor realizes his greed for knowledge and his theft of the crystal has set all these events into motion, and that he must face his fear and probable death by returning it. He pilots the TARDIS to Metebelis III and enters the cave to confront the Great One, an enormous spider, who desires the blue crystal to complete a crystalline web that will amplify her psychic power to infinity. However, once the crystal is in place, the web overloads and destroys both her and the Eight Legs. The Doctor receives a lethal dose of radiation from the cave, and barely manages to escape in the TARDIS. He eventually arrives at UNIT (after being gone, from their perspective, for three weeks), collapses on the floor, and appears to die. As Sarah weeps, K'Anpo/Cho-Je appears and with a little 'push', induces the Doctor's third regeneration.




Story Notes

  • This is the first time the term "regeneration" is mentioned on screen.
  • This is the first time we see someone other than the Doctor regenerate (K'anpo Rimpoche).
  • This story features a large chase scene featuring: Bessie, the Doctor's car (known as the Whomobile), a police car, a gyrocopter, a hovercraft and a boat.
  • Tom Baker is uncredited in the conclusion of Planet of the Spiders, when Jon Pertwee transforms into Tom Baker. Since no regeneration was shown at the end of The War Games (although we do see the apparent beginning of it), this marked the first time since William Hartnell changed into Patrick Troughton in 1966's The Tenth Planet that an on-screen hand-over of the role had occurred. End-of-episode changeovers would become the norm for the next few regenerations until the regeneration from the Sixth to Seventh Doctors at the beginning of Time and the Rani (and both played by the same actor) broke the pattern.
  • Parts of this story were recorded at the same time as parts of Robot. This not only meant that Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker were literally playing the Doctor at the same time, but also that Elisabeth Sladen — and to a lesser extent, Nicholas Courtney and John Levene — were having to rush back and forth between the two productions.
  • The Time Beetle featured in Turn Left shares some similarities with the Eight Legs; It too is a giant-sized insectoid that can latch onto a victim's back, disguising it's prescence at the same time.


  • Part 1 - 10.1 million viewers
  • Part 2 - 8.9 million viewers
  • Part 3 - 8.8 million viewers
  • Part 4 - 8.2 million viewers
  • Part 5 - 9.2 million viewers
  • Part 6 - 8.9 million viewers


  • Roger Delgado's Master was originally to have been written out in Planet of the Spiders, and after the actor's death the story was revised to incorporate Lupton in place of the Master. It is true that had Delgado had not died he would have been written out in the final story of season eleven. He had informed Barry Letts that he would only appear as the Master in one more story during the filming of Frontier in Space. Letts agreed to the request, seeing it as an opportunity to dramatically end Season 11. Thus, he asked writer Robert Sloman to help him write a story which would at last define the relationship between the Doctor and the Master, before having the Master sacrifice himself to save the Doctor. Sloman delivered at least an initial round of scripts, called The Final Game, before Delgado's death halted the complete suspension on the story line. Planet of the Spiders was a wholly different story, save perhaps for Barry Letts' desire to incorporate certain Buddhist philosophies.
  • A frequent corollary to the above is that The Final Game would have also incorporated the regeneration of the Third Doctor. One of the impetuses for Pertwee's decision to resign was Delgado's death. Had Delgado not died, but merely relinquished his role, it is unlikely Pertwee would have looked on Delgado's absence a motivation to quit. More to the point, though, Sloman had delivered scripts to Letts two weeks prior to Delgado's death on 18th June 1973. Pertwee didn't announce his retirement until after his request for a raise was denied in December 1973. The Final Game could not logically have included any elements pertaining to the Doctor's regeneration, because writer Robert Sloman didn't know Pertwee was going to leave.

Filming Locations

  • Tidmarsh Manor, Tidmarsh, Berkshire
  • Bloomfieldhatch Lane, Stratfield Mortimer, Berkshire
  • Membury Airfield, Membury, Wiltshire
  • River Severn, Westbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire
  • Mortimer Station, Stratfield Mortimer, Berkshire
  • Mereoak Lane, Stratfield Mortimer, Berkshire
  • Le Marchant Barracks, London Road, Devizes, Wiltshire
  • BBC Television Centre (TC1, TC6, TC8), Shepherd's Bush, London



DVD and Video Releases

An audio commentary for Planet of the Spiders was recorded in 2007 with Actors Elisabeth Sladen, Nicholas Courtney and Richard Franklin, Producer/Director Barry Letts and Script Editor Terrance Dicks for a future release date. Planet of the Spiders is being released in late 2010 in a two-disc set featuring a number of documentaries, a 5.1 mix, CGI effects, comentary and a special never-seen before feature


Main article: Doctor Who and the Planet of the Spiders

See also

External Links

  • BBC Episode Guide for Planet of the Spiders
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide: Detailed Synopsis - Planet of the Spiders
  • A Brief History of Time (Travel) Guide to Planet of the Spiders
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who - Planet of the Spiders
Season 11
The Time Warrior  • Invasion of the Dinosaurs  • Death to the Daleks  • The Monster of Peladon  • Planet of the Spiders

This article uses material from the "Planet of the Spiders" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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