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Jodie Whittaker
Arachnids in the UK
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Mother of all Spiders
Mother of all Spiders
 'Something's happening with the spiders in this city.'

 The Doctor, Yaz, Graham and Ryan find their way back to Yorkshire - and Yaz's family - only to find something is stirring amidst the eight-legged arachnid population of Sheffield.

Source: BBC Website

General Information

Season: Thirty Seven (New Series 11)
Production Code: 11-4
Story Number: 279 (New Series: 123)
Episode Number:844 (New Series: 148)
Number of Episodes: 1
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Production Dates:
Broadcast Date: 28 October 2018
Colour Status: HD Colour
Studio: BBC Wales (Roath Lock Studios, Cardiff)
Location: Sheffield: Park Hill Flats; 36 Shrewsbury Road; Supertram bridge over Commercial Street and Park Square.
Wales: Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales
Writer:Chris Chibnall
Director:Sallie Aprahamian
Series Producer:Nikki Wilson
Producer:Alex Mercer
Executive Producers:Chris Chibnall and Matt Strevens
Co-Executive Producer:Sam Hoyle
Executive Producer for the BBC:Ben Irving
Assistant Directors:Lauren Pate and Sion Eirug
Script Supervisor:Nicki Coles
Script Editors:Fiona McAllister and Hannah Mason (Assistant)
Series Script Editor:Sheena Bucktowonsing
Editors:Helen Murphy, David Davies (Assistant), Hayley Williams (Assistant) and Martyn Western (VFX)
Colourist:Gareth Spensley
Head of Production:Radford Neville
Production Executive:Tracie Simpson
Production Manager:James DeHaviland
Production Assistant:Alexandra Bahiyyih Wain
Post Production Supervisor:Ceres Doyle
Production Designer:Arwel Wyn Jones
Director of Photography:Tim Palmer
Casting Director:Andy Pryor CDG
Line Producer:Steffan Morris
Costume Designer:Ray Holman
Make-Up Designer:Claire Pritchard-Jones
Cameramen:Cai Stephens (Assistant), Drew Marsden (Assistant), Gethin Williams (Assistant) and Mark McQuoid (Operator)
Visual Effects:DNEG TV
Special Effects:Real SFX
Prosthetics:Millennium FX
Special Creature Effects:Millennium FX
Stunt Co-ordinators:Dani Biernat and Derek Lea
Stunt Performer:Gary Kane
Incidental Music:Segun Akinola
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Harry Barnes
Sound Recordist:Deian Llyr Humphreys
Dubbing Mixer:Howard Bargroff
Music Recorded By:Olga Fitzroy
Music Mixed By:Olga Fitzroy
Title Sequence:Ben Pickles
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Segun Akinola
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: Jodie Whittaker (The Thirteenth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 3The Companions: Bradley Walsh (Graham O'Brien), Tosin Cole (Ryan Sinclair) and Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan) Additional Cast: Chris Noth (Robertson), Sharon D Clarke (Grace O'Brien), Shobna Gulati (Najia Khan), Tanya Fear (Dr Jade McIntyre), Ravin J Ganatra (Hakim Khan), Bhavnisha Parmar (Sonya Khan), Jaleh Alp (Frankie Ellish), William Meredith (Kevin)Setting: Sheffield (September 2018) Villain: Giant Spiders

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
Duration Viewers
In Archive
844Arachnids in the UK28 October 201849'22"8.0Yes

Total Duration 49 Minutes

Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 8.0
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2023) Position = 20 out of 24


 This story exists and is held in the BBC's Film and Videotape Library.

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This is the fourth story of Season Thirty Seven (New Series 11). It was written by showrunner and Executive Producer Chris Chibnall and directed by Sallie Aprahamia.

In this story The Doctor finally returns her three travelling companions, Graham O'Brien, Ryan Sinclair and Yasmin Khan, home, just half an hour after they were accidentally teleported away by The Doctor at the end of the first story of the season, "The Woman Who Fell to Earth".

Finding themselves back in Sheffield, The Doctor and her travelling companions discover a serious problem is roaming around the city in the form of giant spiders.

This story guest stars Chris Noth and Shobna Gulati, with Sharon D. Clarke reprising her role as Grace O'Brien – who was killed in "The Woman Who Fell to Earth".

This story introduced the new version of the Time Vortex, providing an in-depth view of the TARDIS flying through it.

The title of this story is a play on the Sex Pistols' song title Anarchy in the UK.

Almost every science fiction fact about spiders mentioned or done in this story has its grounds in real world science.

Internationally renowned zoologist and conservationist Dr Niall Doran was consulted for this story.

The Doctor uses the psychic paper to identify herself to Jack Robertson as a ‘problem-solver’.

After saying she ‘eats danger for breakfast’ The Doctor says she ‘prefers cereal or croissants or a little Portuguese thing’.

While The Doctor says in this story she's never had a flat before. However, previous stories have indicated otherwise (see the BBC Books' The Past Doctors Stories novel "Verdigris" written by Paul Magrs and the BBC Books' The Eighth Doctor Stories novel "Endgame" written by Terrance Dicks).

The Doctor reiterates her dislike of guns, (see "The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky", "The Doctor's Daughter", "The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon", "The Curse of the Black Spot", "Into the Dalek", "World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls", "The Ghost Monument").

The Doctor is seen using her psychic paper (see "The End of the World").

The Doctor once more refers to her companions as ‘fam’ (see "The Woman Who Fell to Earth"). Former companion Sarah Jane Smith had previously told the Tenth Doctor that he had biggest family on Earth in the form of all his companions (see the 2008 story "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End").

After calling her friends ‘fam’ The Doctor then settles on calling them ‘Team TARDIS’.

The Doctor's bemusement to Ryan, if she is being weird in public, resembles the Tenth Doctor's similar aside to Rose Tyler, in the 2006 story "Tooth and Claw" about whether he acts rude.

Graham is seen still grieving over the death of Grace O'Brien that occurred in "The Woman Who Fell to Earth").

Najia Khan's wary attitude to The Doctor echoes that of other mothers of companions such as Jackie Tyler, (in the 2005 story "Aliens of London/World War Three") Francine Jones (in the 2007 story "The Lazarus Experiment") and Sylvia Noble (in the 2008 story "The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky").

The Doctor has previously met large arachnid-like creatures, such as the Great One of the Eight Legs in the 1974 story "Planet of the Spiders") the Lobri (from the comic strip story "Ground Zero), a friendly Hysperon spider, (from the BBC Books' The Eighth Doctor Stories novel "The Scarlet Empress" written by Paul Magrs), the Racnoss (seen in the 2006 "The Runaway Bride") and spider germs (seen in the 2014 story "Kill the Moon") and a large spider appeared in the comic strip stories "Dr. Who in the Spider's Web" and "The Psychic Jungle".

Spider-web can be as strong as kevlar, as indicated by Jade.

A map of Sheffield is seen showing districts within and around the city. Areas seen include: Boulder Hill, Brightside, Burngreave, Catcliffe, Cathedral, Darnall, Fir Vale, Firth Park, Grimesthorpe, Hillsborough, Kelham Island, Longley - including Longley Park, Loxley Estate, Manor Castle, Middlewood, Orgreave, Parkwood Springs, Parson Cross, Sheffield Park, Shirecliffe, Shiregreen, Stannington, Templeborough, Tinsley, Wadsley, Wadsley Bridge, Walkley, Wincobank, Wisewoodand Wood Hill. Jack Robertson's hotel is located just north of Parkwood Springs.

The plotline, where creatures have been mutated to giant size by toxic waste dumped by an unscrupulous company in an abandoned coal mine, has been used once before (see the 1973 Third Doctor story "The Green Death").

The plot of this story is similar to the films Ice Spiders and Eight Legged Freaks due to using both the themes of scientific blunders from the former and toxic waste mutating normal sized spiders from the latter.

The Doctor mentions an incident involving stopping an airplane with a pencil-thick strand of spider-web. The Doctor also mentions Amelia Earhart.

The Doctor muses that ‘The Spider Mother in the Ballroom’ could be the title of ‘the best novel Edith Wharton never wrote’.

At the end of this story Graham, Ryan and Yasmin actively choose to travel with The Doctor at the end of this story.

First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first Doctor Who story to be directed by Sallie Aprahamian.

 The first time that The Doctor calls her travelling companions ‘Team TARDIS’.

 The first time that Graham, Ryan and Yasmin actively choose to travel with The Doctor in the TARDIS.

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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
The Doctor
The Doctor

After their recent events with The Doctor, including travelling in the past where they got to meet Rosa Parks (see the previous story "Rosa"), her three companions, Graham O'Brien, Ryan Sinclair and Yasmin Khan, find themselves back in present-day Sheffield. The Doctor announces to the group that they have arrived just half an hour after they were accidentally teleported away (see "The Woman Who Fell to Earth"). This is after a very bumpy ride and many abortive attempts to return her three travelling companions home, and in the correct time period, making Graham wonder if The Doctor can actually control the TARDIS.

The TARDIS has materialised outside the Park Hill housing complex where Yasmin lives. Seeing how sad The Doctor is to part ways with them, Yasmin invites her to join her for tea. The Doctor's face brightens and she accepts the invitation. Fellow companions, Ryan and Graham, are also invited. Ryan accepts but Graham declines, deciding he wants to stop by his home as he feels he needs some time to himself to grieve over the death of his wife, Grace.

After introducing The Doctor and Ryan to her father and sister Yasmin gets a phone call from her mum, Najia, asking Yasmin to come and pick her up after she is sacked from her job in a nearby hotel. While waiting for Yasmin to return The Doctor and Ryan decide to visit the family's next-door neighbour to collect a parcel that had been delivered there a few days earlier. Outside their next-door neighbour’s front door they meet a woman who introduces herself as Jade McIntyre who explains that one of her colleagues, Anna, has not been to work for the last few days and has not called in sick. Gaining entry to the flat the group discover it is covered in spider webs. They soon discover Anna’s dead body lying on her bed covered in spider webs. The Doctor deduces that she has been killed by a large spider. The question is where is the spider now? After finding nothing in the wardrobe The Doctor and Jade move for the door as Ryan checks under the bed discovering the spider which, when it crawls out from under the bed, they discover it is the size of a small dog. Exiting from the bedroom as quickly as they can The Doctor uses vinegar and garlic taken from the kitchen to spread it on the floor, walls and ceiling in a square to dissuade the giant spider from following them and so becoming a bigger threat if it gets outside.

Yasmin Exits the TARDIS
Yasmin Exits the TARDIS

On leaving Anna's flat they are joined by Graham who has also discovered that the attic of his house is filled with spider webs and an unusually large shed spider skin. The Doctor notes Jade wasn't surprised by the spider webs in Anna's flat and demands she reveals what she knows. The group learn that Jade is an arachnologist who has been investigating strange bizarre behaviour patterns with the spiders in Sheffield.

They head to Jade's lab, where she explains her lab had been working on enlarging spiders to harvest their webs as its more durable than Kevlar. However, on discovering that something was wrong with the spiders, they have now suspended the experiments. Jade then pulls out a map, which she has marked all the unusual activity, that she has become aware of. On looking at the map The Doctor realises that the spiders are sending a message, grabbing a marker and connecting the dots on the map. It forms a web with an empty area in the middle - a recently built luxury hotel complex. This is the same hotel which Najia worked at until recently before being fired by its American owner, Robertson.

Ryan and Graham
Ryan and Graham

Arriving at the hotel, and joined by Robertson, Yasmin and Najia, the group learn that giant spiders are infesting the complex. One of these attacks Robertson when he visits a bathroom. He manages to escape from the advancing spider which had gained access to the bathroom via the bathtub. On hearing the commotion Robertson's bodyguard, Kevin, enters the bathroom, gun at the ready, as Robertson makes a hasty retreat. Robertson shuts him in with the spider. Gunshots are heard. On opening the bathroom door Robertson witnesses the giant spider dragging Kevin into a large hole where the bathtub used to be.

On entering the bathroom, The Doctor decides to poke her head down the hole to see what is down there and discovers another large spider. On exiting the bathroom The Doctor tells everyone they need to get somewhere bright for their safety. However, Robertson and Ryan are for leaving the hotel altogether. Everyone agrees and starts running back to the hotel's entrance. However, on reaching the lobby, they find that the spiders have webbed up the entrance to trap them inside the hotel. Realising that the spiders intend to trap them as prey, The Doctor tasks Graham and Ryan with capturing a spider for examination, while the rest go to the basement and discover that the spiders have come from abandoned mine tunnels that are beneath the complex. There they come across two cocoons, one of which contains the body of Kevin. The Doctor however, discovers something far worse further in - finding that a cavernous area of the mine has been used as a landfill. Though he attempts to deny having any knowledge of this, Robertson relents and reveals that his waste disposal company JLR Disposal has cut corners and dumped the waste in the old mine so as to make a profit. The Doctor notes that this is effectively toxic waste which has been building up and getting more toxic. On hearing this disposal company's name Jade reveals to The Doctor that her experiments involved genetically modified spiders and that it is highly likely that the giant spiders are the offspring of a specimen that must have been dumped by the same company, on the belief that it was dead. On learning this The Doctor theorises that the toxicity of the dumping ground has mutated the spiders further causing them to grow to a large size.

Upstairs in the hotel Graham and Ryan manage to capture one of the giant spiders but in doing so they are chased by a horde of others. Fleeing in panic they manage to get back to the kitchen so that Jade can examine the specimen. She wonders though if it is the biggest one. Ryan tells her that there's no way that they're going back out there to find out – which is exactly what The Doctor asks them to do. Wondering around the hotel they find themselves in the ballroom. Initially they do not find any spiders there but then they both realise that they did not check the ceiling when they walked in. They shine their torches up and to their horror find an enormous spider on the ceiling. As they turn and run, it lands with a loud thud on the floor and starts to chase after them, but they manage to slam the doors in its face so trapping the spider in the ballroom.


Reunited back in the kitchen The Doctor concludes that the huge spider, Graham and Ryan discovered in the ballroom, is the mother spider, and the rest are its offspring. The Doctor comes up with a plan to kill the spiders humanely by getting the group to lure them into a panic room that Robertson had built into the hotel. Attracted by the supplies of food in the panic room, and to get away from the load music that Ryan plays over the hotel's speakers, they are soon locked inside. The group then arrive in the ballroom to deal with the mother spider. But The Doctor and Jade realise that the mother spider is dying from being unable to adjust to its massive size. However, before The Doctor can ensure that the giant spider dies humanely, Robertson kills it with his bodyguard's gun, much to The Doctor's disgust. Angered by his actions, The Doctor tells Robertson that the spider wasn't a threat as it was already dying. Robertson though passes it off as a mercy-killing.

With the situation resolved and later that evening, Graham, Ryan and Yasmin contemplate returning to their normal lives. They all meet back outside the TARDIS and once The Doctor lets them in where they all decide to continue their travels so they can see more of the universe, much to The Doctor’s delight. Together, they pull the lever to start their new adventures through space and time.

The Doctor with Yasmin and Ryan
The Doctor with Yasmin and Ryan
Yasmin and her Mum
Yasmin and her Mum
Dr Jade McIntyre
Dr Jade McIntyre
A Giant Spider
A Giant Spider
Yasmin and Graham
Yasmin and Graham
The Doctor
The Doctor

Quote of the Story

 'You see, Doc, the thing about grief is it needs time, and… Well, I don’t want to sit around my house waiting for it to go away, 'cause that house is full of Grace, and it makes it so much harder. But, um, being with you and seeing all these things… it really helps.'


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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
The Complete Eleventh Series Box SetJanuary 2019BBCDVD 4296Photo-montageDVD boxed set containing 10 stories
The Complete Eleventh Series Box SetJanuary 2019BBCBD 0437Photo-montageBlu-Ray boxed set containing 10 stories
The Complete Eleventh Series Box Set (Limited Edition Steelbook)January 2019BBCBD 0455Photo-montageLimited Edition Blu-Ray Steelbook boxed set containing 10 stories
Original Television Soundtrack - Series 11January 2019Photo-montageMusic by Segun Akinola

In Print

No Book Release
Doctor Who Magazine - PreviewIssue 531 (Released: December 2018)
Doctor Who Magazine - ReviewIssue 532 (Released: Winter 2018/2019)

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Photo Gallery

The Doctor and Companions

Jodie Whittaker
The Thirteenth Doctor


Bradley Walsh
Graham O'Brien
Tosin Cole
Ryan Sinclair
Mandip Gill
Yasmin Khan

On Release

Complete Series DVD Box Set
Complete Series DVD Box Set

Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set
Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set

Complete Series Blu-Ray Limited Edition Steelbook Box Set
Complete Series Blu-Ray Limited Edition Steelbook Box Set

Original Television Soundtrack Cover
Original Television Soundtrack Cover



Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 531
Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 531

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Review: Issue 532
Doctor Who Magazine - Review: Issue 532

Marvel Comics

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