Part One

Me: Right, this is it.
Sue: This is what?
Me: This is the last Jon Pertwee story. Six more episodes and it’s all over.
Sue: Really? Why are you telling me this now? Are you winding me up again?
Me: I was going to keep it a surprise, but I believe this story works better if you know that it’s the Third Doctor’s swan song. It would have been common knowledge to the average viewer at the time, too. The reason I know this for a fact is because my mother sat me down and explained to me what was going to happen in advance. She probably did this to stop me freaking out when Pertwee was replaced by another actor. Oh, and you’d have to be an idiot not to see it coming a mile off anyway, so I thought I’d put you out of your misery now.

When the story’s title appears on-screen, Sue turns to me and laughs.

Sue: Spiders, eh? You must really hate this story. Don’t worry, you can hold my hand if you get scared. I’ll protect you.

Yes, I suffer from arachnophobia. I also live in the country and I spend a great deal of my time screaming for Sue to come and rescue me from eight-legged ****ers.

Me: This story had a profound effect on me as a child. You could say that it made me the person I am today.
Sue: Afraid of spiders?
Me: No, afraid of Buddhists.
Sue: What?
Me: You’ll see.

The story begins with a lonely man walking down a country lane.

Planet of the SpidersSue: We’re on location. That’s a good start.
Me: Do you recognise this character?
Sue: Is it the actor who plays Yates? Is he playing a different part?
Me: No, that is Yates!
Sue: I thought he was persona non grata?

Meanwhile, the Doctor and the Brigadier are out painting the town red.

Sue: Is this what they get up to on their days off? What the hell is going on? And why is the Doctor sitting here instead of exploring the universe or something? Have we skipped an episode?

A torturous comedy routine is followed by a Turkish belly dancer named Sherezadi.

Planet of the SpidersSue: They’ve come to working men’s club to see A STRIPPER??!

Lethbridge-Stewart’s eyes almost pop out of his head.

Sue: Brigadier! No! I am very disappointed in you.

Meanwhile, Yates breaks into a large country house and he makes for the cellar, where he spies a group of middle-aged men meditating over a Roger Dean album cover.

Me: I told you that Buddhists were bloody terrifying.
Sue: They look more like bank managers than Buddhists.
Me: It is possible to be both, you know. Barry Letts was a Buddhist.
Sue: Does Doctor Who have a Buddhist agenda? We’ve seen Buddhists in the show before, haven’t we?
Me: Yes, the only problem is that I grew up associating Buddhism with monsters and alien invasions. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t Barry’s intention when he wrote this.

Planet of the SpidersThe next day, Professor Clegg is summoned to UNIT HQ to speak with the Doctor. He was the clairvoyant act at last night’s sordid cabaret.

Sue: It’s a bit like MI5 bringing Derren Brown in for questioning. You can tell that he’s got mind control powers because of the beard.

Sue cradles a cushion in her lap as the Doctor enlists Clegg to help him with his research into ESP.

Sue: Is he going to form an alliance with Clegg? Can you see what I just did there? It’s because the Doctor is a –
Me: Yes, very good.
Sue: So, why is the Doctor fixated on this particular subject all of a sudden? Is he sick of all the mind control every week, as well? I still don’t understand why he isn’t off having an adventure on some alien planet. This is out of character. He couldn’t wait to leave planet Earth but now he’s hanging around UNIT like a spare part.

While we ponder that, Yates meets Sarah Jane at a remote train station in his sports car.

Planet of the SpidersSue: He’s starting his midlife crisis early. And his MG needs a service, too. Listen to it squeaking! That would turn Sarah right off.

Yates tells Sarah that he has an exclusive scoop for her magazine.

Sue: So is Sarah Jane a journalist again? Has she left the Doctor? Why does she trust Yates again? And in which magazine did she publish her story about the giant penis in a cape?

Yates shares his suspicious about a local Buddhist meditation centre with Sarah.

Sue: Yates has the look of a young Mick Jagger – the long hair suits him. I’m glad they brought him back to finish off his story. They left it a bit up in the air. Not that I was seriously expecting any kind of resolution.

In the meditation centre’s cellar, a group of men, who are led by a grumpy looking man named Lupton, are chanting as they focus on a mandala.

Sue: He looks familiar.
Me: I’ll give you a foot rub if you can tell me where in Doctor Who you’ve encountered this actor before.
Sue: Wasn’t he in On the Buses?

At UNIT HQ, the Doctor has hooked Clegg up to a machine that Sue quickly identifies as a salon-style hair dryer.

Sue: Those are the same headphones from the story with the giant maggots in it. He’s nicked them from that giant computer that was brainwashing everyone.

Oh, she’s so close!

Planet of the SpidersClegg then uses his powers to reveal that the Brigadier enjoyed extra-marital relations with a young lady named Doris.

Me: I told you he was having an affair.

Sue is not entirely happy about this and she half-laughs half-tuts as the scene plays itself out. The Doctor then asks Clegg to mentally probe his sonic screwdriver and a nearby monitor displays images of Drashigs being attacked by the device in Carnival of Monsters.

Sue: I suppose the Doctor should count himself lucky that it isn’t showing images of a giant cock in a shower curtain. How would he explain that to the Brigadier?

Benton walks into the lab, and he too dismisses the Doctor’s contraption as an overblown hair dryer.

Sue: Benton and I would get on like a house on fire. We think the same way. Is the actor who played Benton still alive?
Me: Yes! You passed him in a corridor about three months ago. You were invited to see some of his stand-up comedy but you were too busy hiding in the hotel restaurant to attend. Actually, that was probably for the best.
Sue: That was never Benton! Never in a million years! I thought it was Ian Levine that I passed in the corridor.
Me: Scary, isn’t it?

Planet of the SpidersBack at the meditation centre, Sarah is interviewing a Tibetan monk named Cho-Je about his beliefs. At one point, Cho-Je says, “The old man must die and the new man will discover to his inexpressible joy that he has never existed”.

Sue: In other words, “Don’t worry, Tom Baker will be along shortly”. There’s a lot of foreshadowing going on in this episode. I like it.

Benton has brought with him a package that has been sent to UNIT from the Amazon by Jo Grant. The Doctor asks Clegg to identify the package’s contents without opening it.

Sue: Is it a DVD boxset? That’s what you usually get from Amazon.
Me: Very funny.
Sue: Is it the blue crystal from the one with –
Me: – the giant maggots? Yes. Yes, it is.
Sue: I know really it’s called The Green Death. I just like winding you up.

Their interview concluded, Mike and Sarah pretend to leave the meditation centre, only to double back again.

Sue: There are a lot of references to the past in this episode. Look, Sarah Jane is flirting with Mike Yates now. They set that up weeks ago. It’s a bit like Lost, this.

Planet of the Spiders Meanwhile, the Doctor’s experiments get out of hand when Clegg’s mind makes contact with the Metebelis crystal.

Sue: The Doctor’s only gone and killed him! While he was in his care! That’s a health and safety nightmare. UNIT will be up to their necks in litigation for months. Unless they cover it up. I bet Benton knows where all the bodies are buried.

The episode concludes with something rather strange materialising in the meditation centre’s cellar.

Sue: So, Buddhists are making giant spiders appear out of thin air.
Me: Yes.
Sue: Erm… why?


Part Two

Sue: Only five more Jon Pertwee episodes to go. I can’t quite believe it. I bet Part Five will still be rubbish, though. And I bet you must have loads of memories of this one from when you were young. Or were you too scared to watch it?
Me: Oh, I can remember so many sequences from this story, it’s ridiculous. I won’t bore you with them now, but my strongest memory by far concerns the omnibus repeat they aired that Christmas. I am standing in Coventry’s Pool Meadow Bus Station, waiting for a Number 7 with my mother, and I’m screaming the place down because we’ve missed both the bus and the omnibus. The reason I know why it’s the Christmas repeat is because I can distinctly remember my mother trying to pacify me with a gingerbread snowman.
Sue: Omnibus edition?
Me: Don’t even go there. I raised the possibility that we might watch that version instead of the regular episodes but readers on Twitter and Facebook nearly tore my head off.
Sue: Would you jump off a cliff if they asked you to?
Me: I don’t know. What would that do to our hit stats?

The giant spider summoned by Lupton’s gang prepares to make its move.

Planet of the SpidersSue: Does the spider jump onto his back? Oh look, it has. And now it’s invisible. Yes, I have definitely seen this before. I’m sure of it. It definitely jumps onto a woman’s back later on.
Me: Hang on a minute. Did the woman in question look like Catherine Tate by any chance?
Sue: Yes!
Me: Thought so.

The Doctor hooks the Metebelis crystal up to his machine and he sees spiders writhing around on the monitor. I turn away in revulsion.

Sue: So did Doctor Who make you afraid of spiders? Is it Doctor Who‘s fault that I have to keep rescuing you whenever you decide to take a bath?
Me: I don’t think so. It probably reinforced my fear of them, though. I still have problems watching this story today.
: So is Lupton Spider-Man, now? Can he climb walls and swing around on webs and stuff? He might want to think about a costume of some sort. A brown roll neck jumper isn’t going to cut it.

Back at UNIT HQ, the Doctor admits that he was responsible for Clegg’s death. Sue can’t understand why he hasn’t turned himself in to the police yet.

Sue: At least he cares that he’s accidentally killed Derren Brown. And doesn’t Jon Pertwee look tired all of a sudden?

Sue appears to be enjoying this episode (she adores Sarah’s hat and coat ensemble), and when we see both the Whomobile and Bessie in the same car park, she can’t believe her eyes.

Sue: This really is a greatest hits package, isn’t it?

The Doctor says he didn’t see any giant spiders on Metebelis 3 the last time he dropped in on the planet.

Sue: No, but there was a giant chicken. Even I can remember the giant chicken.

Lupton barges into UNIT HQ and when Benton tries to intervene, Lupton electrocutes him.

Sue: Have they killed Benton? Is this Benton’s last story as well? Does UNIT get killed off? I’m a bit worried now.

Planet of the SpidersLupton steals the Metebelis crystal and the Brigadier attempts to stop him with the use of deadly – but incredibly inaccurate – force.

Sue: The Brig ought to be a better shot than that! Is it any wonder that UNIT can’t hit a barn door at 20 paces if he’s the one that’s training them. Good grief.

And then the chase begins.

Sue: Is this one of those special Top Gear challenges were they have to get from one end of the country to the other in different vehicles?
Me: It’s more like Wacky Races.

It isn’t long before this high-speed pursuit attracts the attention of the police.

Sue: It’s Mel Smith in a panda car!

Planet of the SpidersIt’s at this point that Sue begins to suspect that this scene might be nothing more than padding. And we’re only two minutes in.

Sue: That’s the same fork in the road. They are going round and round in circles. I’m guessing that none of this exists in the omnibus edit? They must have cut this bit out completely.
Me: You’d have thought so, wouldn’t you? But they didn’t.

Sue gives me a funny look.

And the chase goes on.

Sue: You know, I’ve never seen a car chase where the participants get out and swap vehicles. You wouldn’t catch Bullitt doing that.

With Lupton now in a gyrocopter and the Doctor back in his Whomobile, Sue spots a fatal flaw.

Sue: I can’t wait to see Tom Baker driving around in the Whomobile – Hang on, what happened to the spider? Hasn’t Lupton splattered it into the upholstery by now?

Planet of the SpidersAnd then, to Sarah’s horror (and Sue’s laughter), the Whomobile takes to the skies.

Sue: It’s turned into Grease now.

And the chase goes on.

Sue: This is basically Jon Pertwee’s leaving present, isn’t it? It’s a bit self-indulgent.

The Doctor follows Lupton’s gyrocopter to the coast.

Sue: Not boats as well! What comes after the boats? Trains? Buses? Space Hoppers?

Lupton steals a motorboat from Terry Walsh.

Sue: He looks familiar.
Me: He should. He played the Doctor last week.

A man on a hovercraft tries to intervene but Lupton deals with him as well.

Planet of the SpidersSue: Why does he look so pleased to be electrocuted?

And the chase goes on.

Sue: There’s more driving in this episode than there is in the film Drive!

To spice things up, the Doctor runs somebody over.

Me: Ah, a comedy tramp. It really is a Now That’s What I Call Pertwee episode.
Sue: It reminds me of Live and Let Die. It’s as long as Live and Let Die.

The Doctor finally catches up with Lupton’s boat, but when he boards it his quarry is nowhere to be found.

Sue: Why didn’t Lupton do that 10 minutes ago?


Part Three

Planet of the SpidersBack at the meditation centre, a young man with learning difficulties named Tommy has his eye on the Metebelis crystal.

Sue: He’s a young Colin Montgomerie.

Lupton confers with Barnes, one of his Buddhist colleagues, about what happened in the cellar with the giant spider.

Sue: He looks familiar.
Me: Bizarrely, and I really am not making this up, Barnes looks like someone who teaches Buddhism at our university. I think he specialises in distance learning.

Lupton rants at Barnes about how losing his job as a sales director resulted in him wishing to channel his energies into achieving world domination. As you do.

Planet of the SpidersSue: From redundancy to world domination – that’s quite a career move. I hope you don’t do something stupid like this when you take your severance this summer, Neil.

When Lupton’s spider tells him that his master will come for him soon, Sue starts to open her mouth.

Me: Don’t even think about it.

As Barnes leaves Lupton and his spider to share some quality time together, Sue offers a word of advice:

Sue: Make sure you don’t step on the giant spider on your way out.

Having said that, she is very impressed by the model spiders, finding them both realistic and creepy.

The spider then decides to torture Lupton in an attempt to demonstrate to him who is wearing the trousers, but Lupton turns the tables on her.

Sue: Clever.

Lupton heads for the cellar to mediates before a mandala. Sarah follows him and she is accidentally transported to Metebelis 3.

Sue: Metebelis 3 looks quite nice. Are you sure this is the same place as before? It was a shit-hole when the Doctor visited it last time.

The Doctor decides to follow Sarah in his TARDIS.

Sue: Why doesn’t he just use the mat? It would be quicker and more reliable.

While the Doctor faffs about, Sarah is introduced to Metebelis 3’s human inhabitants.

Planet of the SpidersSue: Now, he is definitely familiar. (Pause) Is he a 1970s porn star?
Me: I don’t know. How many 1970s porn stars are you familiar with?
Sue: It’s not Jason King, is it?

I attempt to jog her memory with the international hand gesture for Gareth Hunt.

Sue: Is he?
Me: Oh, for God’s sake, it’s Gareth Hunt!
Sue: Who?
Me: The New Avengers?
Sue: The what?
Me: The Nescafe adverts?

Sue: Oh, him!

And then…

Sue: Oh. My. God.
Me: Sue, I’d like you to meet Jenny Laird.

Planet of the SpidersSue is gobsmacked by Jenny’s performance. Is ‘performance’ even the right word? And then, when I tell her that there was a Jenny Laird Prize at RADA.

Sue: Maybe it was a booby prize for the most stilted performance of the year? Or maybe Barry Letts hired the wrong Jenny Laird by mistake? This woman can not act. I could do a better job than her and I’m shit!

Despite Jenny’s best efforts, Sue is quite taken with Metebelis 3, especially its Butlins-style chalets and its “lovely cobbled floors”. But when the TARDIS arrives, she is even more impressed.

Sue: The TARDIS is having a good day. Look at that. Inches away from where the Doctor needs to be. For a single episode, Jon Pertwee’s TARDIS acts like Matt Smith’s.

Before the Doctor can rescue Sarah, a giant spider arrives to spoil things. A fight between the Doctor and the spider’s guards kicks off.

Sue: Just step on it! I know it’s a very big spider but it’s still just a spider.

Just as I am about to remind her that these spiders possess special powers, the Doctor is zapped by one of her guards and he stumbles to the floor, unconscious.

Sue: Is this it then? Is he going to regenerate now?


Part Four

Planet of the SpidersSue: So when is he going to regenerate? It guess that it must be a very long regeneration if we still have three episodes left. And I thought David Tennant’s was a bit drawn out. Or does Tom Baker turn up in the middle of this story to sort it all out?

In one of the brief moments where Sue manages to take her eyes off Jenny Laird, she believes that she has recognised a famous extra lurking nearby.

Sue: It’s Meryl Streep.
Me: Don’t be silly – they couldn’t afford Meryl Streep and Jenny Laird.

Meanwhile, back at the meditation centre.

Sue: These men look – and act – like a paedophile ring.
Me: I am definitely sure that wasn’t what Buddhist Barry had in mind.

With the Metebelis crystal now in his possession, Tommy is slowly reading from a children’s book.

Planet of the SpidersSue: I had that book when I was at school! I remember the pictures and everything!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Sue this excited in the middle of a Doctor Who episode before.

The Metebelis crystal clears Tommy’s mind and he discovers, to his astonishment, that he can read fluently.

Sue: What a brilliant idea. And they did it really well, too. It’s a great performance from Colin Montgomerie.

Meanwhile, on Metebelis 3, the Doctor is barely conscious.

Sue: Come on! Don’t just lie there! Regenerate!

The Doctor gives Sarah the key to the TARDIS and he asks her to bring some equipment back with her that could save his life.

Sue: That’s weird. I thought the TARDIS used a Yale key?
Me: Specialist.

As the Metebelis colonists debate their next move, Sue isn’t exactly swayed by the courage of their convictions.

Sue: They are all hair and no balls. They would be far better off staging a production of Hair.

On her way back to the Doctor, Sarah is captured. But the machine finds its way back to the Doctor. He switches on the device and – BOOM!

Sue: Where’s Tom Baker? Oh, this is getting silly now. It’s still Jon Pertwee.

Planet of the SpidersAt the meditation centre, Yates stumbles across the local paedo ring and he is tied up for his troubles.

Sue: Yates has a brand new pair of shoes. Look at his sole. It hasn’t got a mark on it.
Me: Oh, that’s very deep.

The Doctor arrives at the spiders’ city where Sarah has been cocooned in a web.

Sue: It looks like spun.
Me: A spun web? Yes, it does.
Sue: No, spun. Tuff spun to be precise. It’s a material they used to diffuse studio lighting. Don’t you know anything?

The episode concludes with the Doctor failing to rescue his companion. The look on Sarah’s face says it all.

Sue: How disappointing.


Part Five

Sue: Oh joy, it’s Part Five.

It turns out that the giant spiders on Metebelis 3 really want their crystal back.

Sue: So this is all the Doctor’s fault. You can’t really blame the spiders for being annoyed. It would be like a spider stealing the Star of India from us. We’d be pissed off.

Planet of the SpidersJenny Laird continues to fascinate Sue and she can’t help feeling sorry for the other actors who have to interact with her.

Sue: She’s certainly not helping Gareth Hunt. He’s as stiff as a board whenever she comes near him.

The Doctor escapes from his cocoon with the aid of a trick that he claims to have learnt from Harry Houdini. But the greatest trick is that he somehow manages to divulge this information without moving his lips.

Sue: Was he taught ventriloquism by Roger De Courcey?

Meanwhile, a spider attempts to strike a deal with Sarah: the crystal in exchange for peace, love and harmony. Sarah agrees.

Sue: I’d demand to see something on paper first. Although you wouldn’t be able to read their handwriting.

But if there’s one thing that disappoints Sue, it’s the spiders’ habitat.

Planet of the SpidersSue: The spiders’ lair isn’t what I expected at all. I thought it would be a dark cave covered in cobwebs. It looks like a car showroom.

But her biggest obstacle is that she can’t work out which spider is which.

Sue: They all look and sound the same to me. How can they seriously expect me to keep up with this?
Me: Racist.
Sue: Speaking of which, what’s with yellowing-up with the monk? Couldn’t they have hired a real Tibetan? And Cho-Je is definitely in on it. Whatever it is. That’s what Doctor Who does.

The Doctor is tricked by the Great One into entering its domain.

Me: The voice of the Great One was provided by Kismet Delgado, Roger’s widow.
Sue: That’s nice.

EDIT: Yes, yes, I got this wrong – she voices the Queen. They all sound the same to me as well. Sorry! I have framed the 27 emails that have been sent to me pointing this out. Thanks.

The Great One taunts the Doctor with her power.

Planet of the SpidersSue: The Doctor looks genuinely scared. It’s either that or indigestion.

And then the Great One forces the Doctor to march around in a circle.

Sue: That was very disturbing. I really don’t know what to make of that.

Back on Earth, Cho-Je proves that he isn’t in on anything when he is electrocuted by a spider. And then Yates is struck down as well.

Sue: It’s turning into a blood bath. Just so long as they don’t harm Tommy, I can handle it.

As Tommy leads the Doctor and Sarah to safety, Sarah remarks on how “normal” he suddenly seems.

Sue: I’m not happy about that. That’s a bad choice of words.

I rewind the DVD and when Sue hears Tommy’s reply – that he sincerely hopes that he isn’t normal – she quickly changes her tune.

Sue: That salvaged it. That’s a great line. I apologise for jumping the gun. But I’m warning you now: if Tommy dies, this story will get 0/10. I don’t care if it is Pertwee’s last story.

Planet of the SpidersThe Doctor is brought before the abbot, K’Anpo Rinpoche. The Doctor seems to recognise him.

Sue: Is it the Master?
Me: I’ll let you have that one. I can actually see where you are coming from. But no, it isn’t the Master. Sorry.

The episode concludes with Tommy under attack from brainwashed Buddhists backed-up (literally) with spiders.

Sue: That’s was a great cliffhanger. A character in danger that I really care about. They’d better not kill him, though. I’m serious.


Part Six

After completing our Final Pertwee Dance, we settle down to watch the last episode.

Sue: They never did fix the titles, did they? That’s a shame. Not that I’ll miss these titles. It’s the bit where his legs turned into a tunnel that never really worked for me.

Planet of the SpidersPertwee’s final episode begins and confusion quickly sets in.

Sue: This is a very long recap, isn’t it? The episode will be over by the time we reach its resolution.

And then the recap is suddenly interrupted by some brand new scenes that we’ve never seen before.

Sue: What happened to Tommy? Is he dead? What’s going on?

And then the original cliffhanger suddenly picks up where it left off.

Sue: I think that worked. Just about. I don’t think you could get away with it every week, though. And it doesn’t help that we watched two episodes back to back either. It’s like Barry wanted another go at it.

It transpires out that Sarah has the queen spider on her back and she zaps the Doctor.

Planet of the SpidersSue: Does Sarah make the Doctor regenerate? Does she have to live with the guilt?

Sue reaches for a cushion but then she thinks better of it.

Sue: This is technically hypnotism-stroke-mind-control. I really should be smashing you in the face right now but I’m actually enjoying it for a change, so I’ll let you off.

After freeing Sarah from the spider, the Doctor admits that he is the one at fault, and he shouldn’t have stolen the crystal from Metebelis 3 in the first place.

Sue: That was a powerful message. I’m really glad they are addressing this Doctor’s flaws. It’s almost as if I was supposed to think he was a pompous **** all along. And doesn’t David Tennant’s regeneration echo these sentiments a bit? It’s a nice twist and not what I was expecting at all.

Sadly, K’Anpo’s claim that Cho-Je is a projection of his future self goes down like a lead balloon:

Sue: Eh?
Me: Just imagine that William Hartnell could project Patrick Troughton. It’s a bit like that.
Sue: That really doesn’t help.

Planet of the SpidersThe Doctor realises that he will have to face his greatest fear.

Sue: So he’s frightened of spiders? Or is it being made to walk around in circle? Which is it?

As the brainwashed Buddhists converge on Tommy, Yates redeems himself by taking the psychic bullet, an act that Sue welcomes with open arms. She actually believes that Yates is dead and I can tell that she’s vaguely disappointed when it turns out that his ‘compassion’ managed to save him.

K’Anpo is wounded in the altercation and he regenerates into Cho-Je.

Sue: He makes it looks so easy. And it prepares the children watching for the upcoming regeneration. Easily confused children like you. Your mother needn’t have warned you after all.

The Doctor arrives at the cave of crystals to face the Great One.

Sue: The Great One actually lives up to her name. The spiders have looked pretty good, actually. I’m impressed.

The Doctor returns the crystal and all hell breaks loose when a feedback loop is created by the Great One’s thoughts. The Doctor manages to escape to his TARDIS before the entire mountain blows up around him.

Sue: So it didn’t kill the Doctor after all. He’s fine. So what kills him?

Weeks pass and the Doctor is nowhere to be seen.

Sue: Does he regenerate in an unseen adventure? That would be disappointing.

Planet of the SpidersThe TARDIS finally returns to UNIT HQ.

Sue: Does Tom Baker walk out?

The Doctor, damaged and dying, stumbles into Sarah’s arms. He tells her that the TARDIS brought him home.

Sue: So UNIT is his home now? Not Gallifrey? That’s interesting.

And then the Doctor dies. Sue doesn’t say a word. And I can’t say anything because I’m far too choked up and if I look at her she might see how choked up I am, so I’m buggered if I know how she’s reacting right now.

She eventually breaks her silence.

Sue: Yeah, that was a good scene. Nicely played. I can’t say I’m disappointed to see him go but… yeah, that was nicely done.

Just when all hope seems lost, a projection of Cho-Je appears to usher in a new era.

Planet of the SpidersSue: Why does the Doctor need someone to kickstart his regeneration? The next time he regenerates won’t people wonder where the little genie is?
Me: Who says he won’t be around?
Sue: Okay, fair enough.

And then the moment we have all been waiting for finally arrives.

Sue: It’s Tom Jones!


The Score

Sue: I’m still not clear on why or how the Doctor died. In fact, the plot didn’t make a great deal of sense to me. But the regeneration itself was very effective and some of the performances were excellent. I wish you’d let me see the omnibus edit. I bet it would have flown by.




We appear to have reached the end of the Pertwee era. How the hell did that happen?

To be honest with you, I’m terrified when I think about what might happen next. Either Sue will tear apart some of my favourite episodes, which could result in a very messy divorce, or, even worse, this might happen:

Sue: That was good.
Me: Yes, it was.
Sue: I like Tom Baker.
Me: So do I.

And repeat.


For a bit.

We’ll just have to wait and see.




  1. encyclops  March 9, 2012

    I’m so glad Sue found something to enjoy in this one. It’s one of my very favorites, probably even in my top ten from the classic series. All the vehicle chases and the Jenny Lairdness only whets my appetite for the good parts. One of the best regeneration stories, too. The only part that makes it a little hard to watch for me is the “yellowing-up,” but Cho-Je’s pretty great.

    And so is this site. Thanks so much for it. I can’t wait for the next phase.

  2. Loki  March 9, 2012

    I’m so not used to old tv. I did not notice the bad acting of Jenny or Gareth or the yellowing of Cho-Je or..well lots of this stuff. Of course I’ve never thought that the Doctor was a total **** either. I’m so oblivious. I love this story- it and Spearhead from Space are so rewatchable for me. Can’t wait to see a review on the Pertwee years.

    I have a question for Sue: In what ways was the Pertwee era worse and better than you expected it to be?

  3. Hulahoop  March 9, 2012

    I seem to recall very few trees on Metebelis 3. I also seem to recall more woodenness in the acting than in the all the forest of the alst Christmas special, step forward please too many of the inhabitants of SpiderVille

    Tommy was a great character and I have a vague memory of Terrance Dicks earning his corn in the novelisation with the line about the Brigadier pulling a few strings to get Tommy to university.

    The reprise for the beginning of part 6 would probably only work in a time before VCR. I remember the double take I did when I wathced the video in the mid-90’s, something along the lines of “WTF – it’s turned into Flash Gordon” as in our household those old BBC2 screenings of the Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon episodes invariably had cliffhanger reprises with new scenes inserted to get the eponymous hero out of whatever scrape they happened to be in – or maybe as someone once said “The memory cheats”

  4. David  March 9, 2012

    ” It’s Tom Jones!” LOL – if only!

  5. Steve White  March 9, 2012

    Neil, you’re not the only one with Arachnophobia as a result of this story… I have it too. It had such a profound effect on me when I first saw it on transmission aged 4.

    I’ve lost count of the times I have watched it and wound up jumping out of bed in the middle of the night, lashing out at an imaginary giant spider… It scared the crap out of the Girlfriend the first time it happened… Nowadays she just sighs and says I should find another programme to watch…

    The cliffhanger to episode 3 had a big effect on me as a kid as well… The shot the Doctor… in the back!!!! I wore the knees out of so many pairs of trouser re-enacting that scene when I was playing with my friends.

  6. Simon Harries  March 9, 2012

    Yet another absorbing and entertaining review, you’ve held me up when I should be getting ready to go to work – but I don’t mind! My favourite line was Sue’s comment about the brown roll neck sweater not being a good look for Lupton if he’s to be a Spidey superhero. Do you get teary when watching the regeneration scene? I’m never choked up about it, but it is very good and very well played – the poignancy increased now, of course, since the passing of all three participants. It drives me up the wall when fans criticize the transformation itself, on the grounds that it’s boring and he doesn’t have beams of gold light rushing out from his collar and out of his mouth etc. Not all regenerations have to be like the Davison/Baker one in Androzani.

    • encyclops  March 9, 2012

      Couldn’t agree more regarding the “beams of gold light” thing. I really hate that NuWho has made that the standard effect. The Davison/Baker regeneration is tasteful by comparison (though perhaps not the McCoy/McGann one, but that’s another conversation for a later time).

      • Neowhovian  March 9, 2012

        I’m 100% with you there, encyclops. I even ranted about it in a blog post last year: Confession #4: I Hate the Standard Regenerations

        • PolarityReversed  March 9, 2012

          The RTD-reboot regenerations are so bling and camp. I’m a primal force and I’m about to die, so watch while I blow sun eruptions out of my every orifice and scrub every piece of electronics in the vicinity… Oh, get over yourself, sweetie. NEXT!
          Mehhhh. They don’t make Time Lords like they used to.

          Farewell to the two-legs titles.

          • John G  March 9, 2012

            I’m with Sue on those two-legs titles – the full body image always looks a little clunky to me. The Tom slit-scan sequence is far superior, IMHO.

    • Richard Lyth  March 10, 2012

      The only thing wrong with the regeneration is that Tom Baker didn’t get to say anything at the end. I know that hardly ever happened in the old series, but it would have been great for him to sit up and say “Hello there! Don’t worry, the nasty man’s gone now, you can enjoy the show again. Care for a jelly baby?” and cue end credits.

      • Chris Too-old-to-watch  March 15, 2012

        Considering what Pertwee did next, be grateful that he didn’t sit up and call Sarah Jane “Aunt Sally”

    • Frankymole  March 10, 2012

      Passing of participants: Kevin Lindsay, Elisabeth Sladen, Jon Pertwee, Nick Courtney. Tom Baker’s still around, I hope!

  7. Dave Sanders  March 9, 2012

    Are you kidding? There’ll be TONS to take about in the Hinchcliffe years – I expect Sue to fill up entire pages of Camfield and Maloney spotting, and headshaking bafflement at precisely what the hell could be wrong with script editor Robert Holmes and the amount he gets away with.

    Barry Letts wrote and directed this, and so would have been responsible for all the casting decisions. And Jenny Laird’s character is called Neska. It seems like only a Buddhist could predicted this in such a random accidental fashion, which somehow makes it all the funnier.

  8. Auntie Celia  March 9, 2012

    What a smashing review – I am sure I could sell it to Percy x

  9. Garlu Bunwarrow  March 9, 2012

    May I (genuinely) recommend this:

  10. Garlu Bunwarrow  March 9, 2012

    Also, I’ve never been able to fathom why Jenny Laird is considered so much worse than the other villagers… they all seem equally stilted and theatrical to me, stock shouty Shakespearean hams to a man, and woman.

  11. Simon Harries  March 9, 2012

    The Nescafe ad is amusing… I’d forgotten this series of adventures featuring Gareth, Una and Diane… Do you think they went about solving crimes together when they weren’t drinking coffee and waggling their wrists by their ears?

  12. John G  March 9, 2012

    “These men look – and act – like a paedophile ring.”

    Spot on – I certainly can’t think of a more seedy, shabby bunch of “villains” in the show’s entire history. I pretty much agree with everything Sue else says about this story too. It is overlong and self-indulgent, and the acting on Metebelis Three leaves a great deal to be desired, but I really do like the fact that the arrogant third Doctor is ultimately undone by his own arrogance, and the regeneration scene is touching (if perhaps rather too heavily signposted in advance). I also like the quiet, low-key nature of the scene, as it fits with the Buddhist themes of the story – a flash-bang regeneration would have been entirely inappropriate.

    Many congratulations on reaching the end of another era, though Sue is so much into the experiment now I think Neil is the one who is finding some of it more of a struggle! Incidentally Neil – it is Maureen Morris who voices the Great One. Kismet Delgado does the Queen Spider.

  13. Dave Owen  March 9, 2012

    It would be unpardonably rude to comment on the unlikelihood of passing Ian Levine in a corridor, so I won’t.

  14. Graeme C-G  March 9, 2012

    I’m pleased to learn, Neil, that you’re as big a girls blouse as I am. The reg scene always chokes me up too. 😀

  15. All Toms pretties  March 9, 2012

    As usual great stuff :) sad to see the back of one of my favorite doctors and his sarnie snaffling ways, but onwards to the great curley headed one 😀

    Oh and the brig doesn’t miss, he was just playing and shooting flies, he doesn’t like flies.

  16. Dim Panda  March 9, 2012

    Of course, some fantastic people have won the Jenny Laird prize in the past…

  17. Lewis Christian  March 9, 2012

    Loving your own foreshadows, too, Neil. Spotted it before and it springs up again here (regarding seeing ‘the genie’ again and ‘who says we won’t see it?’) Nice little allusions for us as well as Sue. So glad this era has come to an end. It’s good but I much prefer Baker’s run… there’s going to be so much to talk about!

    For anyone interested:

    Spearhead from Space: 10/10
    Doctor Who and the Silurians: 9/10
    The Ambassadors of Death: 6/10
    Inferno: 8/10
    Terror of the Autons: 8/10
    The Mind of Evil: 5/10
    The Claws of Axos: 7/10
    Colony in Space: 6/10
    The Dæmons: 4/10
    Day of the Daleks: 9/10
    The Curse of Peladon: 4/10
    The Sea Devils: 7/10
    The Mutants: 7/10
    The Time Monster: 8/10
    The Three Doctors: 5/10
    Carnival of Monsters: 9/10
    Frontier in Space: 6/10
    Planet of the Daleks: 5/10
    The Green Death: 9/10
    The Time Warrior: 7/10
    Invasion of the Dinosaurs: 8/10
    Death to the Daleks: 5/10
    The Monster of Peladon: 2/10
    Planet of the Spiders: 7/10

  18. Mike Trytek  March 9, 2012

    A solid 6.7 average for Pertwee, then. Onwards to Tom Baker! I’m very excited to hear Sue’s views on some that almost every fan rates highly.

  19. Jazza1971  March 9, 2012

    Great review. I loved “It’s Tom Jones”, and ” I really should be smashing you in the face right now but I’m actually enjoying it for a change, so I’ll let you off” has to be the quote of the project so far.

    I’ve been watching “Planet of the Spiders” at the same time as you this time round and I was very pleased to see Sue spotting that Mike had on brand new shoes. I’d done the same thing just a couple of days ago.

    I hope Sue enjoys her week of freedom.

  20. matt bartley  March 9, 2012

    I think there’ll be loads to comment on for Tom. The three distinct periods, Sarah’s departure, Leela, the two Romanas, The Deadly Assassin…I’m going to stick my neck out and say Sue will give big scores for Horror of Fang Rock and Warrior’s Gate in particular.

    • DPC  March 15, 2012

      I think she’ll be enthralled with, or at least enjoy (7+) “The Ark in Space”, “Terror of the Zygons”, “The Android Invasion”, “The Face of Evil”, “The Robots of Death”, “The Sun Makers”, “The Ribos Operation”, “The Pirate Planet”, “The Stones of Blood”, “Destiny of the Daleks”, “City of Death”, “The Creature from the Pit”, “Meglos”, “Full Circle”, “State of Decay”, maybe “Warriors Gate”, and “The Keeper of Traken”, and possibly “Logopolis” as it’s a mixed bag but has some really strong moments as well…

      This is far more rewarding than a casino! 😀

  21. Frankymole  March 9, 2012

    “The old man must die and the new man will discover to his inexpressible joy that he has never existed” – it’s kind of neat; I never realised before, but Cho-Je himself doesn’t exist yet – he’s a possibility (wrapped in an enigma etc), like the Watcher or the Valeyard. No wonder he’s looking for ward to “becoming without being”!

    Nice to see the Doctor’s guru George Cormack rock up again, late of the Time Monster (where he appeared as if by magic jsut after the Doc waxed lyrical about his old mentor). Now if only they’d got Edward Brayshaw in as the Master… or even Philip Madoc…

    • PolarityReversed  March 9, 2012

      Mmmm Madoc.
      Great actor fondly remembered, and not just for Who.

    • Frankymole  March 9, 2012

      Sue: Why does the Doctor need someone to kickstart his regeneration? The next time he regenerates won’t people wonder where the little Genie is?

      Neil: Who says he won’t be around?

      Sue: OK, fair enough.

      Nice one. Next time he’s called “The Watcher” though 😉

      • PolarityReversed  March 9, 2012

        Yeah still don’t get that one.
        “It was him all the time…”
        Righty-ho. So 4 thought ahead and conspired with a giant cotton bud to become someone who can alleviate constipation in cattle (and there’s nothing wrong with that). But we’re ahead of ourselves again.

  22. Harry  March 9, 2012

    Given that the Tom Baker era is my favourite, especially the Hinchcliffe “sub-era”, I’ve been counting down the days on here, only to have to wait a week! Still, Sue needs the rest, and what I am curious to see is whether or not she thinks that Tom’s arrival gave the show an infusion of fresh energy. No disrespect to Pertwee, but Season 11 is a little tired in places.

  23. Frankymole  March 9, 2012

    And then the moment we have all been waiting for finally arrives…

    Sue: It’s Tom Jones!

    Engineer Eckerlike, surely? Just wait until he gets back into his shiny jumpsuit (Genesis).

  24. Simon Harries  March 9, 2012

    I tell you Brigadier there’s nothing to worry about! The brontosaurus is large and placid. AND STUPID!

  25. Thomas Bush  March 10, 2012

    “Why does he look so pleased to be electrocuted?” ROTFL

    And the Pertwee era comes to a close. Some stone cold classics, a few duds, but pretty darn good in retrospect. Doesn’t hold a candle to Tommy B. though.

    • Dave Sanders  March 10, 2012

      That’s Terry Walsh, visibly thinking ‘Hooray! I get paid for some spoken lines for a change!’

    • DPC  March 15, 2012

      I might like other Doctors better, but Tom Baker’s is still definitive, even to this day.

      (Season 14 in particular, especially with Leela as when the Doctor tells her not to be violent, he then turns around and acts violent… 😀 Just watching a couple of recent DVD releases featuring the duo, which – IMHO – are the best during Tom Baker’s tenure…)

  26. Jez Noir  March 10, 2012

    Mug quote of the week: “She’s certainly not helping Gareth Hunt; he’s as stiff as a board whenever she comes near him”

    Congratulations on completing the 3rd doctor! This’ll all be so much easier for you from now on, Neil!

  27. Dave Sanders  March 10, 2012

    It always seemed pretty clear to me from this story in particular that the Third Doctor’s greatest fear was of failure, the consequences of it and having to face up to the responsibility of his own mistakes. It also explains where his supreme arrogance comes from, because as far as he’s concerned, failure is not an option.

    • gangnet  March 10, 2012

      I assumed that the Doctor’s (any of him, really) greatest fear was of not being in control (of the situation, of himself, etc.). On those few occasions when the Doctor’s been genuinely frightened, it always seemed to be of a lack of control. Yes, the Doctor’s arrogance is his most interesting flaw.

      • Dave Sanders  March 10, 2012

        That actually makes more sense, it also ties in with Barry Letts’ conception of the Doctor and Master being two sides of one personality, as both are such manipulative control-freaks.

  28. Steve O'Brien  March 10, 2012

    I wouldn’t have told her the regen was coming up. And I would have told her Tommy wrote Terry & June.

    • Neil Perryman  March 10, 2012

      Do you fancy taking over for a bit?

  29. Steve O'Brien  March 10, 2012

    From your husband duties? Sure. I’ll bring some rubbers.

    • John Callaghan  March 10, 2012

      As in wellington boots?

      • Frankymole  March 10, 2012

        Husbands don’t make errors in pencil – real men use biros!


        (You did mean rubbers as in erasers, right?)

  30. Steve O'Brien  March 10, 2012

    No, contraceptives that stop the flow of semen entering the vagina. Now, where were we?

    • PolarityReversed  March 10, 2012

      You are Fetid YouTube Boy and I claim my £5.

    • Frankymole  March 11, 2012

      About 1980, to judge by that Sex Ed lesson…

    • Dave Sanders  March 11, 2012

      The game is afoot, Robert Holmes.

      Contraceptory, my dear Watson.

  31. Lewis Christian  March 11, 2012

    Change, my dear, and it seems not a moment too soon.

  32. Bryan Simcott  March 11, 2012

    Some not very nice or funny comments above from Steve O` Brien even if they are in Jesting.

    Love Planet of the Spiders, decent score as it never deserves much Higher than a 7 or an 8. due to padding episode and the Botched epsidope6 reprise.

    The regeneration is still chokingly sad, and even moreso becasue of our recent losses.

    Can we have a book now Book One 1963 to 1974

    I really am looking forward to the book. Or are we getting one huge tome Doctor who complete ?

    • PolarityReversed  March 12, 2012

      Agreed. I’m sure it was a ill-judged attempt at fun, but I think an apology is in order.

  33. John Williams  March 12, 2012

    I, for one, will only be happy when Steve O’Brien wanders around Hartlepool naked and begging for forgiveness.

    • John Callaghan  March 12, 2012

      In fairness, I do that for fun most weekends anyway.

      (But I do see your point.)

  34. Steve O'Brien  March 12, 2012

    On a controversial note, I love Planet Of The Spiders.

    • PolarityReversed  March 14, 2012

      I suggest you research the reproductive habits of spiders before you move there.
      You’d probably be lucky to mate at all, and if you picked the wrong species the female might well kill and eat you.

  35. charles yoakum  March 13, 2012

    Is hard not to watch this one knowing the end and almost anticipating it too much, isn’t it? I would love to create an omnibus version of this and shorten the self indulgent parts out. there is a story here, but i always lose the meat of it in all the runaround. and that annoys me really. the other part is wanting to watch part 6 and robot pt 1 back to back and watch how the tone evolves along with the doctor. and that frankly abysmal UNIT science room set.

    have to echo that i can’t wait to hear what the fashion conscious Sue thinks of Ark in Space and vira!

  36. Alex Wilcock  March 14, 2012

    What a great edition – lovely to come home to. And for a story I love, but also wouldn’t give more than 7/10 to; for me, the Doctor who I usually find the least likeable confronting the Great One and still trying to save her is terribly moving, one of the series’ golden moments. As Sue says, “I’m really glad they are addressing this Doctor’s flaws. It’s almost as if I was supposed to think he was a pompous **** all along.”

    Special Sue moments for me this week:
    “Brigadier! No! I am very disappointed in you” had me laughing. And, of course…
    “Not boats as well! What comes after the boats? Trains? Buses? Space Hoppers?”

    But definitely right to go with the full-length version – the omnibus keeps lots of scenes I’d chop out and chops out lots of scenes I’d keep. Not least the atmospheric intercut opening scenes that Sue admired for their location and their foreshadowing. For me (as I wrote in my own Planet of the Spiders review), the use of Yates here is inspired – there’s a first for everything. Because starting this of all stories with Mike Yates making a ‘new life’ by striking out on his own away from UNIT to hang about with Sarah Jane and do something vaguely bohemian is a remarkably subtle and clever piece of foreshadowing.

    I know I’m coming late to the party after a few days away, but I loved that. Thank you. And good luck with Tom…

  37. Professor Thascales  March 15, 2012

    I sort of like this story. It has a lot going for it, and the first episode and a half are really good, until the long chase. Then , although it still has a lot going for it, the sections on Earth and Metebelis don’t really go together well. I wish this story had had two rewrites to improve the structure.

    I always liked Lupton’s motive–it makes Lupton human, and combines the ordinary and the larger-than-life in a very Who-like way. Lupton was laid off after 25 years, so he’s helping giant spiders conquer the Earth. And John Dearth is one of those actors who’s so good, it makes me wonder why he wasn’t famous.

    • PolarityReversed  March 15, 2012

      Sadly, a bit 1970s in his attitude to the booze, apparently, which made him almost impossible to work with.
      I agree that Lupton is one of the more believably drawn melomaniacs in Who.

      Gareth Hunt didn’t make it past 65 – also sad. I always felt he might make a pretty good Bond.

      • Frankymole  March 18, 2012

        “Sadly, a bit 1970s in his attitude to the booze, apparently, which made him almost impossible to work with.”

        Thank goodness the new leading man was noithing like that! In fact they employed an ex-monk to be certain of clean-living sobriety, professional humility, and reverence towards cast and writers at all times.

        • PolarityReversed  April 21, 2012

          Hah! True enough.

          But at least Tom could be relied on to actually turn up so that he could chew, or in many cases it seems, hump the scenery, costumes, lighting rigs, ASMs and companions. Poor old Dearth was much further gone.

          A propos Tom’s rockstar Doctor lifestyle, I’d like to hear Sue and Neil on the subject:
          “Did he?” “Yup.”
          “And her?” “Apparently.”
          “Surely they must be…” “Ohhh yes.” “What about…” “You kidding? He married her!”
          “And that one?” “Well, I’m not one to gossip…” “Neil?” “Almost certainly.”
          “So who does he ‘sonic’ in this one?” “See that third villager from the left?”
          “God, no wonder he fell off that telescope thing in the end, he must have been knackered…”

  38. Chris Too-old-to-watch  March 15, 2012

    I’ll always remember when VHS came out of this: same size, weight and content of a house brick.

    Buddhism in the ’70’s was pretty unknown to the general public: all we knew was it concerned long hair, meditation and drug use. In fact that’s probably what Letts was aiming for: imaging the Brig, Benton, Sarah and the Doctor prancing round singing “This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius” ….

    • Alex Wilcock  March 15, 2012

      I remember that VHS, too – it came out the same day as City of Death. It was one of the few times I was so excited (and for some reason had enough cash) that I bought both together as soon as they were released. And yet Spiders – despite its brickness and higher price (were the singles vs doubles something like 9.99 vs 16.99?) – sold far better, at least to begin with. I remember being surprised how much higher in the charts it got.

      I suspect the principal reason was Andrew Skilleter. As I raved about in my Spiders review, his cover for the tape of this story was utterly gorgeous – striking, well-painted, and summing up exactly what you remember about it. City was the opposite: sludgy brown rather than bold blue; rather a poor Tom standing in the background rather than a vibrant Pertwee; and, perhaps most important, no hint of Paris.

  39. Robert Dick  April 2, 2012

    I’ve never thought of the Doris stuff as suggesting The Brig has had an affair. It’s just a woman from his past and he’s a bit embarrassed about private-life talk. Techincally, TV-wise Doris ends up being his first wife, there’s no evidence of a previous one.

  40. farsighted99  April 20, 2012

    I remember Donna having a big spider like that on her back too. Now I know where RTD stole that from. But in general, I didn’t like the spiders. There was too much spidery chit-chat, where they just sat there and wiggled their 8 legs. And you never see any spider lips move. 😀

    Also, what’s with all the chanting and zen stuff? And those hippies on Metebelis 3? Where was the giant chicken? I think there was a one line back story on how they got there. And what made Jo Grant ship the crystal back to the Doctor? I guess we’ll never know. Nice to have another time lord show up (and regenerate). Even if his future self is actually part of the story. And the Whomobile: I knew it could fly!

    Sorry to see you go pal, but Tom Baker is a lot more fun! But you had some great stories (but the latter ones were a bit lame).

    • PolarityReversed  April 21, 2012

      I thought the idea was that a colony ship landed on Metebelis and some shipboard spiders got lucky by scuttling off to the caves where the crystals rapidly enhanced their abilities and intelligence to the point where they could dominate Gareth and his chums, thus causing their society to atrophy into a form of feudal peasantry. With freeze-dried coffee.

      I think the Doctor’s encounter with the giant chicken, when he nicked Metebelis’s equivalent of the Ko-I-Nor diamond, must have happened many years previously, so presumably the giant chickens are extinct by now. And Jo ships the crystal back because the tribes up the Orinoco, or wherever it is she’s buggered off to with Professor Swampy, are afraid of it.

      • farsighted99  April 21, 2012

        good thing you were paying attention, PolarityReversed, as I seemed to have missed all that. Especially the bit about the freeze-dried coffee! You’d think those spiders would have grown a bigger brain, with all those smarts. I like the idea of the giant chickens going extinct, since they sure didn’t seem to be around anymore, and no one was talking about having chicken for dinner. 😉