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Doctor Who: Series 11 (or 36 depending on how you count): Episode 4: Arachnids In The UK by Chris Chibnall.

Years ago, it would take forever, temporally speaking, for the Doctor to get his companions back home again. These days, with the Doctor able to control the TARDIS, she can do it in a couple episodes. Back to Yorkshire for Yaz to see her family and see what is going on. The others want to make up their own minds as to what they do next. They’ve only been gone half an hour and already the city could be tumbling down or rather webbed up as spiders are making appearances. Just be grateful that you don’t have a confined space because these spiders love making cobwebs and cocooning dead people to be eaten later.

If you have any fear of spiders, I strongly recommend you watch this story from behind the sofa and covered in a mosquito net just to be on the safe side. It might also give your sprogs nightmares and fearful of bathrooms. Even I jumped at that one.

Let’s try to avoid spoilers. When I watched this story I thought Chris Chibnall was doing his horror episode quota but the science at the back of this is well-researched. You should be able to reassure your children that if spiders ever grew to the size of a van then their bodies couldn’t cope with respiring air and quickly die. Objectively, I think that might be different if they were outside as moving around might give them enough oxygen to survive. Better not tell them my analysis of that.

These spiders are also mutated from toxic waste and judging by the different off=spring, I do have to wonder what happened to their various mothers as well.

The owner of the hotel, Robertson (actor Chris Noth) is from the same kind of dustcart a certain American President comes from and certainly not a nice person. You do have to wonder if he’d have learnt any lessons from the end of the episode. It would certainly be worth coming back to see if it has.

The plot of the story is reasonably straight forward and spread out enough for every to shine. There are manic moments but they are tempered with good characterisation. Graham also sees someone unexpected but that is spoiler. At least he hasn’t wanted to go back to the bus station. Other things of note are chiefly why each of them still want to stay with the Doctor. Seeing how dysfunction even Yaz’ family is, that’s quite understandable although it’ll be interesting to see what time it is when they all finally decide to go home.

In some respects, Jodie Whittaker looks like she’s channelling aspects of the Tennant and Smith regenerations in her enthusiasm and desire to blend in. I’m not so sure about the sanctity of all life in this instance. It’s not as though these spiders haven’t killed and would have certainly have killed all of them given the chance. If isn’t as though the Doctor hasn’t got any history with dangerous spiders.

The main thing this story of ‘Doctor Who’ has achieved is getting you behind the sofa although I should point out that is where the spiders might be as well, so best to just sit on it instead.

© GF Willmetts

28 October 2018


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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