OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 059
STORY NUMBER: 013
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 20 February 1965
WRITER: Bill Strutton
DIRECTOR: Richard Martin
SCRIPT EDITOR: Dennis Spooner
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 12.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Web Planet
"The Zarbi are massed together against us!"
Ian lies on the floor, the web/net he was caught in having dissolved having irritated his skin. Barbara is led by her bracelet but as she walks hypnotised a butterfly like humanoid jumps up behind her. The Doctor & Ian find marks indicting the Tardis has been dragged away as we cut to a not terribly great model shot of the same. The butterfly creature leads the dazed Barbara to two of it's friends: They remove the gold bracelet that dissolves in the acid pool as Barbara comes to her senses. The Doctor finds marks made by a claw while Ian finds a large sized chrysalis. The Doctor thinks they have landed on Vortis in the Isop galaxy. Barbara tells her new acquaintances their story: They ell her she was under the force of the Zarbi. They disagree on what to do Hrostar wants to kill and overhearing this she escapes from the creatures who she learns are called Menoptera. The Doctor and Ian find where the Tardis has been taken but are captured by the ant like Zarbi and one of their Venom Grubs. Vicki is surprised when the Tardis doors open and calls for the Doctor. Leaving the Tardis she finds herself in the Zarbi lair. The Doctor & Ian are brought to the base which the Doctor discovers it is a living growing thing. A Zarbi tries to enter the Tardis and is repelled by some force. The Doctor & Ian are reunited with Vicki as Barbara is captured by the Zarbi. The Menoptera discuss whether to contact their forces and warn them of the power of the as yet unseen animus and the larvae gun, but communication risks betraying their position. They take the risk and the female Vrestin tries to make contact, but finds the cave interferes with transmission, The Zarbi, escorting Barbara, find them with one of the Menoptera slain by a venom grub. Hrostar frees Barbara from their control and tells her that they will be taken to the Crater of Needles and used as slaves. Hrostar is forced to the ground by the Zarbi and screams as they attack him. The Zarbi attach the Doctor to a tube like machine which descends over his head and speaks to him.
We said that the last episode was seen by 13.5 million viewers. Well in a week Doctor Who lost a million viewers which says something about episode 1! It's a shame because it's a better episode this week: we get a longer look at the Zarbi & the Venom Grubs. The Zarbi look a little odd with the oversized human legs contrasting with the much smaller ant legs, but the Venom Grubs are a great design as are the Menoptera which is the winner for me with it's fragile wings and better integration of the human and Butterfly forms.
The start of the episode exposed a bit of a con at the end of the last one which lead you to believe the Tardis had dematerialised without the Doctor. Here's it's been revealed to have been dragged off. However last episode the Tardis dematerialisation sound was hear at the end of the episode hear but you don't actually see the column moving there. Deliberate use of the noise to misdirect or another fault in episode 1 (see the door fiasco last episode) that we must lay at the feet of director Richard Martin?
We meet three Menoptera in this episode: Hrhoonda, Vrestin & Hrostar.
Hrhoonda is the one who wants to kill Barbara with the bit of crystal he's holding and he's played by Arthur Blake. This episode is his only Doctor Who appearance and his character is killed off by the end of it!
Vrestin is played by Roslyn de Winter. An Australian mime she choreographs the Zarbi and Menoptera in this story and is credited as providing "Insect Movement" on this and the remaining four episodes. Richard Martin uses her again as The Grey Lady in The Chase: Episode 4: Journey into Terror!
Hrostar is the Menoptera who guards Barbara earlier in the episode and then frees her from the influence of the Animus. He's played by Arne Gordon who also reappears in The Chase where he plays the Empire State building Guide in episode 3: Flight Through Eternity. It looks like the Zarbi are torturing & killing him at the end of the episode but, because it's off screen with just his screams and Barbara's horrified looks, what's actually happening is his wings are being severed.
The actors playing the Zarbi are mainly Dalek operators from the previous stories that Richard Martin worked on: Robert Jewell, Gerald Taylor as The Zarbi (1-6) & Kevin Manser. Jack Pitt hadn't appeared as a Dalek Operator before this story but would make his debut in that role in The Chase, where he's also a Mire Beast, before returning in The Dalek Masterplan as a Dalek and the alien delegate Gearon. Also on Doctor Who debut as a Zarbi here is Hugh Lund: he doesn't get to play a Dalek but returns as Matthews in The Android Invasion episode 4.
But a big cheer please ladies & gentlemen for the Doctor Who debut of John Scott Martin, here also playing a Zarbi. In an extensive acting career he features in diverse places such as Pink Floyd's film of The Wall, The Good Life, The first episode of Tripods and as the old retiring 192 in the first 118 118 advert.
He's probably best known for being a Dalek Operator appearing in (deep breath): The Chase, Mission to the Unknown, The Daleks' Master Plan, The Power of the Daleks, The Evil of the Daleks, Day of the Daleks, Frontier in Space, Planet of the Daleks, Death to the Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks, The Five Doctors, Resurrection of the Daleks, Revelation of the Daleks & Remembrance of the Daleks. So basically every Dalek story bar Destiny of the Daleks!
As well as the Web Planet his non-Dalek Doctor Who appearances include The Chase (a Mechanoid), Colony in Space (the IMC robot), The Dæmons (a villager; uncredited), The Mutants (a Mutt), The Three Doctors (a gell guard; uncredited), The Green Death (Hughes), Robot (a guard; uncredited), The Brain of Morbius (Kriz) & The Invisible Enemy (the Swarm).