This Sunday, The Doctor and her friends investigate strange goings-on with Arachnids in the UK. An arachnid is, of course, any eight-legged arthropod including scorpions and ticks. But Doctor Who is no strangers to the most common arachnid, the spider. Like many others, The Doctor hates spiders and for good reason.

Giant Spiders had a role in The Doctor’s Third Regeneration. In an alternate reality, another alien spider caused not just a regeneration but the death of The Doctor’s Tenth incarnation. No wonder she doesn’t like them! Will Arachnids in the UK mean another deadly encounter with the dreaded eight-legged monsters?

BlogtorWho reviews the appearance of spiders in Doctor Who…

Spiders have made multiple appearances in Doctor Who. Occasionally they are a minor feature within a larger story. For example, in Full Circle the spiders on Alzarius that hatched from the river fruit were genetically connected to the Marshmen and Alzarians. During A Christmas Carol the Eleventh Doctor described a face spider, a thing that looked like a tiny baby but with the legs of a spider. The Twelfth Doctor also encountered what were termed ‘Spider germs’ on the surface of the Earth’s Moon in Kill the Moon. These gigantic bacteria were akin to spiders found on the planet below. However, the two main species of spiders seen in Doctor Who are the Eight Legs and the Racnoss.

Doctor Who - Planet of the Spiders (c) BBC
Doctor Who – Planet of the Spiders (c) BBC

The Eight Legs

The first portrayal of spiders onscreen in Doctor Who came in Jon Pertwee’s swansong Planet of the Spiders. These giant spiders were responsible for one of the iconic and nightmare-inducing images of the classic era. Sarah Jane Smith with spider attached to her back graced the cover of the original Target novelisation and the DVD. It could also be argued that the image was replicated with Donna Noble and the Time Beetle in Turn Left. These giant spiders, or Eight Legs, possessed tremendous psychic ability, capable of controlling the minds of lesser species, such as human beings. The Third Doctor would confront The Great One, an enormous and terrifying giant spider, with events on Metebelis III ultimately triggering his third regeneration.

Doctor Who: Worldwide Web (c) Big Finish

The Eight Legs would return to the world of Doctor Who in a number of novels including The Eight Doctors. Big Finish would bring back the Eight Legs in a two-part series finale to the Eighth Doctor’s third run of stories; The Eight Truths and Worldwide Web. Once again they used the crystals of Metebelis III to take over the minds of beings throughout the universe. Fortunately, the Eighth Doctor managed to defeat them once again and banish them back to their home planet.

The Racnoss

First seen in The Runaway Bride the Empress of the Racnoss is perhaps the largest spider ever seen. Played by actress Sarah Parish, the Empress was an enormous construction. Towering over the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble, this was no spider that could be easily squashed by a shoe. An ancient race from the Dark Times, these ravenous creatures devoured life on other planets. In an alternate reality generated by a Time Beetle, the Tenth Doctor drowned beneath the Thames during the confrontation with the Empress of the Racnoss. The Racnoss would again return on Big Finish in Empire of the Racnoss a Fifth Doctor story which formed part of the second volume of Classic Doctors New Monsters.

Empire of the Racnoss (c) Big Finish

Spiders have also been used in Doctor Who novels and comic strip adventures. For example, the Spidrons in TV Comic during the 1973, the Spidroids from the Eighth Doctor novel The Janus Conjunction or the Gappa in Tenth Doctor novel Snowglobe 7. There was even a story titled Dr. Who in the Spider’s Web. This story was part of the 1964 projector toy and was told over 7 slides. Doctor Who spinoffs Class and Torchwood have also utilised spiders. Class novel The Stone House introduced Bone Spiders and online Torchwood comic Ma and Par saw a Craktor nest in a Cardiff golf club.

There promises to be even more spiders in Doctor Who: Arachnids of the UK.

Spiders return to Doctor Who this Sunday in ‘Arachnids of the UK. Starring Jodie Whittaker the episode airs on BBC One, BBC America and other stations around the world. For broadcast times in your region check local listings.

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