74) PLANET OF THE SPIDERS

4 May - 8 June 1974

Average Viewing Figure: 9M

Plot

On the planet Metebelis III a giant spider requires a rare blue crystal in order to rule the Universe

Cast

Jon Pertwee (The Doctor), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), Richard Franklin (Mike Yates)

John Levene (Sergeant Benton), Cyril Shaps (Professor Clegg), John Dearth (Lupton), George Cormack (K'Anpo), Christopher Burgess (Barnes)

Terence Lodge (Moss), Carl Forgione (Land), Andrew Staines (Keaver), Kevin Lindsay (Cho Je), John Kane (Tommy), Gareth Hunt (Arak)

Geoffrey Morris (Sabor), Jenny Laird (Neska), Joanna Monro (Rega), Ralph Arliss (Tuar), Chubby Oates (Policeman), Pat Gorman (Soldier)

Terry Walsh (Man with Boat), Michael Pinder (Hopkins), Stuart Fell (Tramp), Walter Randall (Guard Captain), Max Faulkner (Guard Captain)

Ysanne Churchman, Kismet Delgado, Maureen Morris (Spider Voices)

Uncredited Cast

Barbara Bermel, Sue Ann Manners, Margaret McKechnie, Lorna Kilner, Ann Plenty, Mary Rennie, Pat Gorman, Ian Elliott

Simon Christy, Ken Tracey, Keith Ashley, Bill Matthews (Villagers), Leslie Bates, Steve Ismay, Dennis Plenty, Roy Pearce, Derek Hunt

Harry Fielder, Alan Chuntz, Stuart Fell, Billy Horrigan, John Cash, Geoff Witherick (Guards) 

and introducing Tom Baker as The Doctor

Crew

Robert Sloman (Writer), Terry Walsh (Fight Arranger), Ron Grainer (Title Music), Bernard Lodge (Title Sequence)

Dudley Simpson (Incidental Music), Dick Mills (Special Sound), Fred Hamilton (Film Cameraman), John Gatland (Film Sound)

Bob Rymer (Film Editor), Bernard Wilkie (Visual Effects Designer), L Rowland-Warne (Costume Designer), Deanne Turner (Make-Up)

Ralph Walton (Studio Lighting), John Holmes (Studio Sound), Terrance Dicks (Script Editor), Rochelle Selwyn (Designer), Barry Letts (Director)

Uncredited Cast

Barry Letts (Producer), Barry Letts (Writer), Jim Gomm (Grip), Ian Punter (Film Camera Assistant), Ian Scoones, Richard Conway

Steve Bowman, Mat Irvine (Visual Effects Assistants), Sheelagh Wells (Make-Up Assistant), Nick Lake (Vision Mixer)

Frank Brown (Film Sound Assistant), Hugh Wilson (Film Operatives Manager), Albert Cush (Film Props), Grame Harper (Assistant Floor Manager)

Andrew Hunter (Grams Operator), Heather Dunthorne (Director's Assistant), Dave Chapman (Inlay Operative)

Marion McDougall (Production Assistant), Geoffret Posner (Floor Assistant), Tommy Dawson (Technical Manager)

Broadcast

Number of Production Days: 12

Filming Locations

  • Television Centre

  • Mortimer Railway Station, Stratfield Mortimer, Berks

  • Tidmarsh Manor, Tidmarsh, Berks

  • Bloomfieldhatch Lane, nr Stratfield Mortimer, Berks

  • Membury Airfield, Membury, Wilts

  • Le Marchant Barracks, Devizes, Wilts

  • River Severn, nr Westbury, Glos

  • Television Centre: Studio 1

  • Television Centre: Studio 6

  • Television Centre: Studio 8

Deaths

  • Professor Clegg [dies of fright-induced heart failure]

  • Lupton [killed by the Queen Spider]

  • Soldier [killed by psychic powers]

  • The Great One [dies as a result of the Metebelis III crystals]

Production Days

  • 12 Days between Friday 22 February - Wednesday 1 May 1974

Production Errors

  1. When Captain Yates picks Sarah up from the train station, his car's rear number plate is black with silver characters. This changes to a plate with a yellow background and black characters near the end of the episode 

  2. When Lupton blasts Sergeant Benton in episode two, the blast comes underneath his outstretched arm instead of coming from his fingers 

  3. The Guard who is attacked by the spider in episode two prepares himself for the fall he is about to perform by placing his hands out in front of him

  4. As the policeman performs a three-point turn, the Whomobile can be seen sitting stationary in the distance 

  5. The sonic screwdriver which appears in this serial is not the same one that appeared in Carnival of Monsters. So how is Professor Clegg able to associate it with the Drashigs when The Doctor didn't use it against them? Did he upgrade the sonic screwdriver in an off-screen adventure?

  6. When Tommy collapses in episode four after looking into the crystal, the crystal is on a nearby table. When Tommy comes too, he is holding it in his hand 

  7. Why isn't the spider on Lupton's back squashed when he gets into various vehicles? 

  8. If Lupton can disappear anytime he likes, why doesn't he do this at the start of the chase sequence?​​

Working Titles

  • The Final Game - (storyline)

Verdict

Planet of the Spiders is all honestly is a big let-down to end the tenure of the Third Doctor. The story starts off well where a group of meditators unwittingly allow a Giant Spider to come to Earth but after that things start to go South. Episode two is nothing more than an overall elaborate chase sequence involving a whole sleuth of vehicles and side characters and visual gags. The scenes of Metebelis III fair no better with terrible acting and effects and a really lazy way of separating The Doctor and Sarah. There is nothing at all really entertaining nor is there any charisma which made the Third Doctor tenure so special over the last five years. The Spiders are admirable monsters who ultimately cause the downfall of The Third Doctor when he faces up to his mistakes. There is an intelligent script diving into Buddhist philosophy not seen since The Abominable Snowmen. As a whole there is some good stuff here, you just have to get over the terrible decisions made during the production and you’ve got a passable effort right here. ***​