Production Code: ZZZ
1 - 04/05/1974 17:45
2 - 11/05/1974 17:40
3 - 18/05/1974 17:40
4 - 25/05/1974 17:30
5 - 01/06/1974 17:35
6 - 08/06/1974 17:35
Sarah is invited by Mike Yates to visit him at a Buddhist meditation centre where he has been staying. A group of people there, led by a man named Lupton, are misusing the meditation rituals in order to make contact with powerful alien forces, which manifest themselves as a giant spider. The spider is an emissary from the ruling council on the planet Metebelis 3, sent to recover the blue crystal that the Doctor previously found there and that has now been returned to him by Jo.
The Doctor and Sarah journey to Metebelis 3 and aid its human colonists in an attempt to overthrow the 'eight legs'. They then return to Earth in the TARDIS. The Doctor recognises the meditation centre abbot K'anpo as his former Time Lord guru and, at his prompting, returns to Metebelis 3, where the humans' revolt has ultimately failed. He demands an audience with the Great One - a huge mutated spider revered by the others - and offers her the crystal.
The Great One uses it to complete a crystal lattice, which she believes will increase her mental powers to infinity. Instead, the rising power kills her. The other spiders also die as their mountain explodes. K'anpo has meanwhile been killed while protecting Yates from an attack by the spider-controlled residents of the meditation centre, only to be reborn in the form of his assistant Cho-je - his own future self.
Some weeks later, the Doctor is brought back to UNIT HQ by the TARDIS, having been fatally affected by the radiation in the Great One's cave. K'anpo appears and, with his help, the Doctor regenerates.
Mike Yates and Sarah watch from hiding as the meditation centre residents, seated around a mandala, chant the Tibetan 'jewel of the lotus' mantra. Suddenly a giant spider appears on the mandala.
Lupton flees in a speedboat and the Doctor gives chase in a one-man hovercraft. The hovercraft finally draws level and the Doctor jumps across into the speedboat. When he looks round, however, Lupton has vanished.
On Metebelis 3, the Doctor gets into a fight with the Queen spider's guards. The Guard Captain fires a blast of energy from his fingertips and the Doctor collapses to the ground just outside the TARDIS.
Sarah is lying cocooned in the spiders' larder. The Doctor appears in the doorway, but Sarah's initial relief turns quickly to disappointment when she sees guards behind him and realises that he too is a prisoner.
The Doctor and Sarah talk with K'anpo while, outside the room, the meditation centre handyman Tommy tries to prevent the spider-controlled residents Barnes, Keaver, Land and Moss from entering. They blast him with energy from their fingertips.
As Sarah and the Brigadier look on, the Doctor regenerates.
Tommy reads Blake's The Tyger.
Flowers for Algernon.
Planet of the Apes.
Animal Farm (Two Legs bad, Eight Legs good).
Live and Let Die (the chase sequence).
Quatermass and the Pit.
The spider imitates Sarah by singing 'Half a pound of tuppenny rice'.
K'Anpo sending the Doctor to face his worst fears is reminiscent of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Sarah Jane Smith : "You're just like everybody else."
Tommy : "I sincerely hope not."
K'anpo : "We are all apt to submit ourselves to domination... Not all spiders sit on the back."
Cho-je : "The old man must die, and the new man will discover to his inexpressible joy that he has never existed."
The Great One : "You see this web of crystal above my head? It reproduces the pattern of my brain. One perfect crystal and it will be complete. That is the perfect crystal I need!'"
"I can't keep it up!"
ESP lies dormant in most Homo sapiens. Sarah has worked for Metropolitan magazine (selling articles to someone called Percy).
The Brigadier's watch was given to him 11 years ago in Brighton by Doris (a 'young lady') as a mark of gratitude for something that the Brigadier is anxious to leave unspecified (see Battlefield). The Brigadier phones Sullivan, the UNIT Medical Officer (see Robot). They're in yet another UNIT HQ.
When the Doctor was a 'young man' he spent a lot of time with an old hermit who lived 'halfway up a mountain just behind our house' (see The Time Monster). This Time Lord regenerated and came to Earth as the Abbot K'Anpo Rinpoche. As his next regeneration approaches he is helped by a projection from his future form, Cho je (see Logopolis). The Doctor is familiar with Tibetan customs (see The Abominable Snowmen).
The Doctor is absolutely sure of the TARDIS reaching Metebelis 3 (he's 'wired the coordinates into the programmer'), but he leaves the precise landing site to the TARDIS. Thankfully, it lands exactly where Sarah is. The TARDIS key is shown as being a medallion. The TARDIS eventually brings the Doctor back from Metebelis 3 after (from the Brigadier and Sarah's point of view) three weeks.
The spiders of Metebelis 3 come from a period after the Doctor's previous visit (see The Green Death) when an Earth craft of colonists and explorers came out of 'time jump' [probably another term for hyperspace] and crashed on the planet. Exposure to the blue crystals mutated the arachnids accidentally brought on the ship, and the Eight Legs enslaved the Two Legs.
433 years after the crash the spiders planned to invade Earth, their 'rightful home'. To do this they needed the crystal stolen by the Doctor, which was a perfect example of its type [enabling them to travel through time and space].
A theatre, a Buddhist retreat in Mortimer, Berkshire, UNIT HQ in March or April 1973.
Metebelis 3 (some time in the future).
The Doctor is a good friend of Harry Houdini's.
The spiders' method of taking over humans is by leaping on their backs and remaining there, invisibly, while they exert telepathic control.
There is the second and final appearance of the Whomobile.
Gareth Hunt, later to become one of the stars of The New Avengers and of a popular series of coffee commercials, plays Arak.
The cliffhanger to Part Five is re-edited when reprised at the beginning of Part Six, with a significant amount of extra material inserted.
The term 'regeneration' is used for the first time, to describe the process by way of which Time Lords take on a new body when their old one wears out.
John Kane, who played Tommy in this story, also worked as a television writer, including on the sitcom Terry and June.
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. (If Delgado had not died it is likely that he would have been written out in the final story of season eleven - the production team had it in mind that the Master would sacrifice his life in order to save the Doctor's and thus achieve a kind of redemption - but this idea, provisionally entitled The Final Game and also intended to be written by Robert Sloman and an uncredited Barry Letts, was never developed further and Planet of the Spiders was a completely different story.)
If the spider is on Lupton's back in episode two, why isn't it squashed when he sits in the various vehicles?
During this epic chase, why doesn't Lupton simply disappear as he does at the climax?
The Doctor's flying car is a different colour in the studio (gold rather than silver).
This isn't the same sonic screwdriver as in Carnival of Monsters, so why does Clegg associate it with Drashigs?
Mike's tweedy fashions are horrible.
The spiders' guards have flares.
Cast & Crew
The Doctor - Jon Pertwee
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart - Nicholas Courtney
Mike Yates - Richard Franklin
Sarah Jane Smith - Elisabeth Sladen
Sergeant Benton - John Levene
Arak - Gareth Hunt
Barnes - Christopher Burgess
Cho-je - Kevin Lindsay
Guard Captain - Walter Randall
Guard Captain - Max Faulkner
Hopkins - Michael Pinder
K'anpo - George Cormack
Keaver - Andrew Staines
Land - Carl Forgione
Lupton - John Dearth
Man with boat - Terry Walsh
Moss - Terence Lodge
Neska - Jenny Laird
Policeman - Chubby Oates
Professor Clegg - Cyril Shaps
Rega - Joanna Monro
Sabor - Geoffrey Morris
Soldier - Pat Gorman
Spider Voice - Ysanne Churchman
Spider Voice - Kismet Delgado
Spider Voice - Maureen Morris
Tommy - John Kane
Tramp - Stuart Fell
Tuar - Ralph Arliss
Director - Barry Letts