ZZZ. Planet Of The Spiders

Season Eleven - 1973/1974

Script Editor: Terrance Dicks
Writer: Robert Sloman
Produced by: Barry Letts
Director: Barry Letts
Designer: Rochelle Selwyn
Incidental Music: Dudley Simpson
Fight Arranger: Terry Walsh (4)


The Doctor and the Brigadier are spending an evening at a variety performance, and are having to endure bad jokes and belly dancing (the latter appealing to the Brigadier). Eventually it is time for the performance the Doctor really wanted to see - mind reader Professor Herbert Clegg.

In Somerset Mike Yates is checking out a meditation centre in the countryside. Inside he finds a group of people chanting. As the chanting intensifies a mandala starts to glow. He runs out of the cellar, disturbing the chanting. With the spell broken the group cannot continue and is postponed until the next morning. They hear a car driving away - and only one person they know has a car - Mike Yates.

After the show the Doctor invites Professor Clegg back to UNIT HQ. Professor Clegg assumes the Doctor and the Brigadier want to book him for a cabaret show. The Doctor says he has been doing some research into ESP, looking into fields such as telepathy. The Professor then reveals he is not really a professor, and that his act is just trickery. Whilst the Professor says it is a trick, the Doctor noticed that he is in fact able to read minds.

The Professor only wants to be a performer, but he is starting to gain powers such as psychokinesis, allowing him to move objects with just his mind. The Doctor asks for a demonstration, and the Professor lifts a tray in the air. The Doctor tells the Professor that his abilities are normal, but are usually dormant in humans.

Mike has told Sarah Jane Smith about a group of monks setting up the meditation centre, and says it would be a good article for her magazine. Inside Lupton is concerned, and tries to convince Cho-Je not to let her come. Lupton is talking to Barnes about Mike Yates when they are met in a corridor by slow-minded Tommy. They both dismiss him as an annoyance. Lupton and Barnes go back into the cellar to restart the chanting.

Mike Yates picks Sarah up from the station and drives her to the meditation centre. He says it is a job for UNIT. As he is not popular there any more he wants Sarah to have a look around first, and then tell the Brigadier about what she finds. As they are driving along a tractor appears in the road. Mike skids off the road trying to avoid it. When they look back there is no sign of it.

Back in his laboratory the Doctor is testing the Professor's power. The Brigadier hands him a watch and the Professor tells him it was given to him at Brighton by a young lady named Doris. The Doctor then hooks the Professor up to the IRIS (Image Reproduction Integrating System) machine and hands him the sonic screwdriver. The IRIS machine shows what the Professor sees in his mind - images such as Drashigs. Sergeant Benton enters the laboratory with a package from South Ameria - from Jo Jones. Instead of opening the package the Doctor hands it to the Professor. The Professor says the package has come from beyond the stars - a gemstone. When the Doctor opens the package he finds the Metebelis 3 crystal that he gave Jo as a wedding present.

When Mike and Sarah reach the meditation centre they meet and interview Cho-Je. Whilst Cho-Je goes to take a class Sarah is allowed to look around. Mike leads her to one of the classes. In a corridor they meet Lupton and Barnes and Mike quickly drags Sarah away and drives off. Mike drives a short distance to let Lupton think they are going away before making the trip back again on foot, and sneak in through a window. They are caught by Tommy. Mike tells him it is a game, and asks if he wants to play. Tommy notices a silver broach. Sarah lets him have it, and he goes away happy, leaving Mike and Sarah to investigate the cellar. It's empty. They find a hidden area as Lupton, Barnes and more people come in and start a chanting ceremony.

In the Doctor's laboratory he is reading the letter from Jo when the Professor idly picks up the Metebelis crystal and looks in to it. The laboratory starts shaking before the Professor cries out in pain. The Doctor checks his pulse - he's dead.

In the cellar Sarah and Mike watch as a giant spider appears. All the men jump up, and huge spark of electricity kills one of them. Lupton orders the spider to go. The spider can talk and tells Lupton it is hear to give him the power he seeks. It tells Lupton to turn round, and jumps on his back before turning invisible.

After the men have left - confused about what happened - Mike helps Sarah leave. He stays behind to allay any suspicions while she goes back to UNIT.

The Doctor and the Brigadier are trying to work out what killed the Professor. He had been attached to the IRIS machine, and it had recorded his thoughts. The IRIS machine had caught images of giant spiders. In order to find out more about what happened the Doctor looks into the crystal himself. As the Doctor looks in to the Metebelis crystal the spider on the Lupton's back can feel its presence. The crystal is the reason the spider has come to Earth.

Later on Sarah arrives at the Doctor's laboratory and starts to tell him about the meditation centre. The Doctor is paying more attention to the crystal - until she mentions the giant spider that jumped on Lupton's back.

In the UNIT HQ car park a soldier is looking after one of the Doctor's vehicles - a hovercraft - when Lupton walks in asking for the Doctor. When the soldier asks for his pass Lupton fires a bolt of electricity. He makes his way to the Doctor's laboratory, using electricity from the spider on any one in his way. He can see the crystal on a table. He concentrates on the crystal. In the laboratory Sarah watches as it disappears. Unseen Lupton walks away with the crystal.

Lupton escapes in to the car park. The Brigadier orders him to stop, and he takes the Doctor's hovercraft. The Brigadier, Benton and Sarah pursue in Bessie, whilst the Doctor takes to the air in a gyrocopter. Lupton hears Bessie, and soon after the Doctor's gyrocopter.

They find the hovercraft but no-one is in it. Lupton is hiding, and when the Doctor lands he takes the gyrocopter, guided by the spider. Sarah thinks he has got away, but the Doctor gets in to the hovercraft, quickly followed with Sarah. Moments later it is airborne and in pursuit of the gyrocopter. The gyrocopter is almost out of fuel, forcing Lupton to land. He runs on foot to the side of a lake. He finds a speedboat and jumps into it. The Doctor and Sarah Jane arrive soon afterwards. As Lupton takes to the water the Doctor follows in a hovercraft.

In the speedboat the spider tells Lupton to concentrate, and with power from the spiders on Metebelis they transport away from the speedboat, leaving the Doctor alone on the lake. Lupton reappears in the meditation centre, seen only by Tommy. Through Lupton the remaining spiders on Metebelis are seeking to make a link.

The spider is able to contact the Queen on Metebelis. Having obtained the crystal the Queen says the spider should prepare to bring it back. The Queen is dismissive of Lupton, but the spider agrees that without him they would not have the crystal. The Queen says Lupton's reward will be to serve them in their invasion of Earth. The concentration required to contact Metebelis is exhausting for Lupton, and the spider tells him to sleep. As he does so it leaves his back.

The Doctor, Mike and Sarah visit the meditation centre and ask Cho-Je about Lupton. Cho-Je asks when they last saw him, and says he saw Lupton at the same time - unless they were suggesting he was transported in the winking of an eye.

Barnes goes to see Lupton, concerned they are dealing in things they do not understand. As Lupton tells Barnes when he came to the meditation centre Tommy listens at the window. He sees the crystal on a table and takes it without anyone noticing and takes it back to his room - a small cupboard under a set of stairs - with all his other "pretties".

The spider returns, and tells Lupton that he must meet the Doctor. When he refuses the spider causes mental anguish. As they are linked together Lupton realises he can use the same trick to cause pain to the spider. The spider tells Lupton that it can help him seize power on Earth, and he can help it seize power on Metebelis. They prepare to return to Metebelis with the crystal, only to realise it has gone.

Whilst the Doctor is waiting to see Lupton Tommy signals to Sarah, and asks her to follow him so he can give her a present. Outside Tommy's room she hears Lupton talking about restarting the ceremony. When Tommy reappears she tells him she is going down to the cellar, and that he must find and tell Mike. In the cellar Sarah watches as Lupton starts the chanting himself, and then disappear. She starts to look for Lupton, and stands on the mandala.

The Doctor and Mike appear, and when Sarah tries to step off she isn't able to. A moment later she is transported to an alien world - Metebelis 3. She can see Lupton, but before she can follow a hand is clamped over her mouth. Sarah is taken to a human village as a spy for the eight-legs (on Metebelis it is an offence to refer to the eight-legs as spiders). Some villagers are more sympathetic, and hide her when a trumpet call announces a visit by the Queen of the eight-legs.

The Queen is there for Arak. He attacked one of the eight-legs' guards, and therefore must answer for his crimes. Instead Sarbor tries to reason with the Queen, but she insists Arak must die. Sarbor tells the Queen that Arak has gone to the hills, and the Queen says Sarbor must take his place.

The Queen detects a stranger in the village, and Sarah gives herself up rather than let the village be punished. Moments later the TARDIS materialises and the Doctor emerges. The Queen wants to question the Doctor (thinking he is Lupton). The Doctor tries to escape back to the TARDiS but is struck by electric from one of the guards. During the fight Sarah manages to hide. After the eight-legs have gone Sarah goes over to the Doctor. Arak insists he is dead, but the Doctor starts to move. The eight-legs have imposed a curfew, and he is taken inside one of the houses.

Upon returning the eight-legs' council in the city the Queen finds Lupton sitting in her place. The Queen tells Lupton that the Great One is waiting for the crystal.

On Earth Tommy is looking for a book and puts the crystal he has on a chair. Whilst trying to read a book he looks in to it, and his mind is opened up. He is able to read the book easily.

Back on Metebelis Tuar is all for trying to rescue his and Arak's father from the eight-legs, but Arak is not so keen. The Doctor slowly awakes, and asks Sarah to get an old leather satchel from the TARDIS. This means going outside during the curfew, an offence punishable by death. She makes it to the TARDIS, but on the way back is caught by Lupton. She is taken to the eight-legs, and the bag is left on the ground, and Arak is able to sneak out and bring it back to the Doctor. Inside is a machine that discharges some of the electricity that the Doctor had absorbed.

In the eight-legs's city Sarah is taken to the "larder". Sarbor is there, already cocooned. The following morning Sarah wakes - also cocooned. Sarbor explains that the eight-legs usually eat the sheep the humans breed, but they prefer human flesh.

In the village the Doctor has recovered, and eats breakfast - a mutton broth - with the villagers. Tuar is eager to attack, and wants to know more about the eight-legs. When the original colonists ship crashed it is thought a spider must have survived near the cave of blue crystals. The crystal can enlarge the mind, but also the body. The Doctor asks the villagers to find stones - hoping that the crystals are not the only mineral with powers and that he can find another stone that has additional properties. With his machine he is able to find a type of stone that can absorb the power from an eight-legs. Using one of the stones the Doctor travels to the eight-legs city, and is captured by guards. He is taken to the "larder" where Sarah and Sarbor are cocooned.

When the crystal was used by Tommy on Earth the eight-legs detected it and realised Lupton does not have it. He is caught and brought before the council. Lupton is able to put doubt in eight-legs council members about the Queen's motives, and the Queen says she will go to the see the Great One.

In the larder the Doctor tells Sarbor that with the stones Arak is going to try to get some of the other villages to attack the eight-legs. As Sarah is freed and taken away by guards the Doctor uses escapology - learnt from Harry Houdini - and frees himself.

Sarah is taken to the Queen. The Queen says she does not agree with the council about invading Earth. The plan to talk to the Great One was a ruse. The Queen says she will help Sarah and the Doctor get back to Earth to get the crystal.

The Doctor finds his way to the lair of the Great One. It tells him not to approach as the radiation will kill him, but also tells him to return the crystal he stole - the one last pure crystal of power. When the Doctor makes it back he finds Sarah, who is able to transport them both back to the village - and the TARDIS.

Back on Earth Mike talks Barnes in to re-establishing the link through the ceremony and the mandala. At the same time Tommy is trying to understand what has happened to him, and decides to ask Cho-Je.

When Mike and Barnes open a link to Metebelis the eight-legs detect this, and start transporting themselves to Earth. Not trusting the humans who made the link they appear elsewhere in the cellar instead of appearing on the mandala. After speaking to Tommy Cho-Je goes down to the cellar to stop the ceremony. The eight-legs that have made it through start attacking.

The TARDIS materialises in the cellar where Barnes, with a spider on his back, fires electricity, knockig Mike and Cho-Je unconscious. The Doctor and Sarah escape from Barnes and find Tommy. They rush upstairs to talk to the leader of the centre - K'Anpo Tommy had given the crystal to K'Anpo. When Sarah sees the crystal she tries to go for it, firing electricity. K'Anpo let's the Doctor see through his eyes, and he can see the Queen spider on her back.

Barnes and the other men taken over by the spiders find K'Anpo's room. Tommy is standing outside, refusing to let them in. Barnes shoots electricity at him, but it has no effect (his innocence protects him), and he is able to fight the men off. He is able to keep absorbing the electricity when they all fire at one. Not getting anywhere they join together to request more power from Metebelis.

Inside the room the Doctor and K'Anpo plead to Sarah to free herself from the spider. K'Anpo holds up the crystal and when Sarah stares into it she is able to free herself from the Queen.With the link broken the Queen dies.

K'Anpo talks to the Doctor and suggests that by stealing the crystal in the first place the whole event is basically his fault. The Doctor realises that K'Anpo is his old teacher from Gallifrey - another Time Lord. K'Anpo helps the Doctor realise what he must do - to take the crystal to the Great One. By going back the crystal cave would destroy him. Using the crystal the Doctor is able to transport back to the cellar and escape in the TARDIS.

On Metebelis the Doctor asks for Arak and Tuar's help to get to the crystal caves. In the cave the Doctor comes face to face with the Great One. The Doctor asks the Great One to spare Earth. The Great One says that one crystal will be used to power a matrix above her head to amplify her thoughts to everyone in the Universe. The Doctor tells it that what has been built is a feedback loop. The power would build up until it could not be contained.

The crystal is added to the matrix, and the power becomes to much to handle, burning the brain of the Great One. The power also affects the eight-legs in the council. All the spiders that had come from Metebelis to Earth die as the crystal cave explodes.

On Earth over three weeks pass with no sign of the Doctor. Sarah keeps visiting UNIT HQ in case he returns. On one day, after being lost in the time vortex, the TARDIS does bring him home. On leaving the TARDIS he collapses. He appears to be dead, but a vision of the regenerated K'anpo appears, and tells Sarah the Doctor is alive. Although all the cells have die, the body is regenerating. K'anpo gives the process a small nudge, and as Sarah and the Brigadier watch the Doctor regenerates...

Regular Cast

  • Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart: Nicholas Courtney
  • Sarah Jane Smith: Elisabeth Sladen

Guest Cast

  • Mike Yates: Richard Franklin
  • Lupton: John Dearth
  • Tommy: John Kane
  • Barnes: Christopher Burgess
  • Moss: Terence Lodge
  • Land: Carl Forgione (1-2,4-6)
  • Keaver: Andrew Staines (1-2,4-6)
  • Cho-Je: Kevin Lindsay (1-3,6)
  • Professor Hubert Clegg: Cyril Shaps (1)
  • Spider Voices: Ysanne Churchman (2-6), Kismet Delgado (2-6), Maureen Morris (3-6)
  • Policeman: Chubby Oates (2)
  • Soldier: Pat Gorman (2)
  • Man with Boat (Bert): Terry Walsh (2)
  • Hopkins: Michael Pinder (2)
  • Tramp: Stuart Fell (2)
  • Arak: Gareth Hunt (3-6)
  • Tuar: Ralph Arliss (3-6)
  • Sabor: Geoffrey Morris (3-5)
  • Neska: Jenny Laird (3-5)
  • Rega: Joanna Munro (3-5)
  • Guard Captains: Walter Randall (3-5), Max Faulkner (5)
  • K'Anpo Rimpoche: George Cormack (6)
  • Double for the Doctor: Terry Walsh (3)
  • New Doctor Who: Tom Baker (6)
  • Guards: Lesley Bates, John Cash, Harry Fielder, Derek Hunt, Steve Ismay, Roy Pearce, Dennis Plenty, Geoff Witherick
  • Villagers: Keith Ashley, Barbara Bermel, Simon Christy, Ian Elliott, Pat Gorman, Lorna Kilner, Sue Ann Manners, Bill Matthews, Margaret McKenzie, Ann Plenty, Mary Rennie, Ken Tracey
  • Extras: Jack Baker, Elaine Banham, Geoffrey Brighty, Leslie Glenroy, Julian Hudson, Tony Kilbane, David Nicholl, Roger Salter, Freddie White, Patsy White; Stuntmen: Alan Chuntz, Stuart Fell, Billy Horrigan, Terry Walsh

Original broadcast on the BBC

Channel Title Date Viewers Rating
BBC 1 376. Part One Saturday, May 4, 1974 5:45 PM - 6:10 PM 10.1M 58%
BBC 1 377. Part Two Saturday, May 11, 1974 5:40 PM - 6:05 PM 8.9M 60%
BBC 1 378. Part Three Saturday, May 18, 1974 5:40 PM - 6:05 PM 8.8M 57%
BBC 1 379. Part Four Saturday, May 25, 1974 5:30 PM - 5:55 PM 8.2M
BBC 1 380. Part Five Saturday, June 1, 1974 5:35 PM - 6:00 PM 9.2M
BBC 1 381. Part Six Saturday, June 8, 1974 5:35 PM - 6:00 PM 8.9M 56%

Click here to show repeat broadcasts on the BBC


  • Television Centre Studio 1

Outside Locations

  • Devizes, Wilts
  • Membury Airfield, Membury, Wilts
  • Mortimer Station, Strathfield Mortimer, Bucks
  • Newnham-on-Severn
  • Tidmarsh Manor, Tidmarsh, Berks


Part 6: The reprise in this episode is different from the cliffhanger in episode 5.


No producer is credited.