13) THE WEB PLANET

13 February - 20 March 1965

Average Viewing Figure: 12.5M

Plot

On the planet Vortis an evil force is spreading across the planet causing a battle between the Zarbi and Menoptra

Cast

William Hartnell (The Doctor), William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright), Maureen O'Brien (Vicki)

Roslyn de Winter (Vrestin), Arne Gordon (Hrostar), Arthur Blake (Hrhoonda), Jolyon Booth (Prapillus), Jocelyn Birdsall (Hlynia)

Martin Jarvis (Hilio), Ian Thompson (Hetra), Barbara Joss (Nemini), Catherine Fleming (Animus Voice), Robert Jewell, Hugh Lund

Kevin Manser, Jack Pitt, John Scott Martin, Gerald Taylor (Zarbi)

Uncredited Cast

Ken McGarvey, Sid Della (Slave Menoptra), Len Russell, Jane Bowman (Optera Guards), Ken McGarvey (Menoptra)

Crew

Bill Strutton (Writer), Roslyn De Winter (Insect Movement), Ron Grainer (Title Music), Peter Hamilton (Film Cameraman)

Gitta Zadek (Film Editor), Daphne Dare (Costume Supervisor), Sonia Markham (Make-Up Supervisor), Ralph Walton (Lighting)

Ray Angel (Sound), Dennis Spooner (Story Editor), John Wood (Designer), Verity Lambert (Producer), Richard Martin (Director)

Uncredited Crew

Elisabeth Dunbar, Gillian Chardet (Assistant Floor Managers), Norman Stewart (Production Assistant), Brian Hodgson (Special Sound)

Delia Derbyshire (Theme Arrangement), Tony Bowers (Grams Operator), Mark Lewis (Technical Manager), Clive Doig (Vision Mixer)

Trevor Beckett (Floor Assistant), Nigel Curzon, Anthony Thorpe, Jennifer Wyatt (Design Assistants)

Broadcast

Filming Locations

  • Ealing Film Studios: Stage 2

  • Riverside Studio 1

Deaths

  • Animus [rapidly decays]

  • Hrostar [killed by a larvae gun]

  • Hrhoonda [killed by a larvae gun]

  • Nemini [killed by a flow of acid]

Production Days

  • 12 days between Monday 4 January - Friday 26 February 1965

Production Errors

  1. At several times during the story some actors miss their cues to move around the set

  2. Barbara mistakenly gives Vicki aspirin when the latter asked for a sedative

  3. During "Escape to Danger" one of the Zarbi run directly into the camera

  4. During "Invasion" a cough can be heard off-screen from a production team member

  5. During "Invasion" a stagehand can be seen opening a door for The Doctor and Vicki enter

  6. During the scenes when Ian is buried in a rockfall, someone off-camera can be heard laughing

  7. Hroonda's wings notably fall off after the character is killed in "The Zarbi"

  8. One of the Zarbi's abdomens dangles to the floor throughout the serial

  9. One of the Menoptra prisoners appears to be 'relaxed' judging by their body expressions

  10. Shadows are notably cast on the sky repeatedly throughout the story,even though there is no sky

  11. The GIANT Zarbi for some reason are scared of TINY DEAD spiders 

Working Titles

  • Doctor Who and the Webbed Planet

Verdict

The most bizarrely put together serial in the entire history of Doctor Who, and no, that’s not a good thing here. There’s an original story here but FROM the first second it becomes plainly obvious that money was a no-no word throughout the production process. The whole thing looks and sounds ridiculous, with silly looking aliens who move and speak in the most annoying ways, (you’re off the hook for now Alpha Centauri), which makes one wants to cover up one’s ears in sheer annoyance. The story is filled with repetitious moments and has a serious lack of direction and enthusiasm from everyone involved. Ian Chesterton doesn’t seem that keen on returning to Vortis, and for good reason, ‘Oh, I doubt it, Vrestin. But, knowing the Doctor, you can never be sure’.
The sets and hazy lenses are an eyesore, which could have helped transport viewers to a far off alien world, but fail to do so. The Web Planet is over ambitious for its own good where it remains blissfully unaware of its own ridiculousness and where everything becomes ensnared in the farcical narrative. The aliens are just awful, but the Zarbi are marvellous creations, but the Zarbi continually ‘bleep, bleep, bleep’ all day long, which just becomes bothersome rather than a creative alien language, the Menoptra’s vocal cords only stretch to one octave, the Optera are severely restricted in movement, and the Animus is a typical sci-fi mind controlling parasite.  There’s an interesting idea buried underneath the ill-directed production, it’s just a matter of sweeping away the endless cobwebs of misconceived production values, to find that supposed shining light.*