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Mr Big Bad’s new hotel is infested by mutant spiders, and only Sheffield’s sickest grime station can flush them out

Soon-to-be-named Team TARDIS arrives in Sheffield with remarkable precision. While Graham heads home to start being haunted by visions of Grace and check for cash in the attic, Doc and Ryan are introduced to Yaz’s hospitable family, possibly hinting at future character development that no one paid much attention to at the time.

Meanwhile, Jack Robertson, an American businessman heavily invested in hotels, golf courses, and toxic waste spreading, who’s running for the highest US office and definitely not he who shan’t be named, is visiting his flagship Sheffield acquisition, a giant luxury hotel that has become overrun by gigantic bodyguard-snatching spiders.

It wouldn’t be Doctor Who without a cobwebby coinkidink, though, so it transpires Yaz’s mum is the freshly fired hotel manager, their neighbour was until recently a world-leading spider-expert, the unimaginably vast spider infestation neatly fits into a panic room built for no reason, and the spider-mum can be spider-done with a standard gun.

Here's what we think of N148 Arachnids in the UK

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

1.6

Drew | @drewbackwhen

2.6

Marie | @hammashandjelly

3.7

Here's what we think of N148 Arachnids in the UK

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

1.6

Drew | @drewbackwhen

2.6

Marie | @hammashandjelly

3.7

Here's what you think 8 Responses to “N148 Arachnids in the UK”
  1. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks
    Some alcohol may have been consumed prior to and during the rewatch of this episode. Did it help? Well, let’s see…Giant creatures created due to the toxic waste dumping (down a coal mine) from an uncaring evil corporation. Erm Chris, you’ve copied the plot to The Green Death, but just poorly and subbing South Wales for Sheffield. Oh well.
    Oh the Doctor actually manages to get the companions back to Earth on the same day they left. That feels novel. And I kinda like Yaz’s dad. Dunno why, but Yaz’s family definitely had more legs than what was in series 11 and 12. Nice scenes with Graham and Grace at their house.
    Ah, it’s Not-Trump (who apparently hates him but is very much like him). And his underling waving a gun around…in the UK…at Yaz…who is a British police officer…Erm, yeah her reaction was no way near appropriate enough. That bugged me on original transmission and it still does. Robertson is fairly irritating and not in a good way. Thankfully they didn’t bring him back again in a Christmas special or something…
    Lockdown Palace…did they know something we didn’t? Annoyingly, I do agree with Robertson’s point of view that shooting the Giant One is better than letting it suffocate to death, definitely a quicker death.
    It’s bad on a very stupid script point of view but I can enjoy it on a certain level. 2.7/5 Giant Spiders who are probably seeking the great crystal. All Praise to the Great One.
    Cheers
    Kieren

  2. Andy Parkinson | @caffreys71

    Hi Gang,

    I don’t generally have a problem with spiders, but big ass scary mother humping spiders – definitely!!
    Big ass spiders aside there’s actually quite a lot to enjoy in this story, The Doctor is developing her character, the companions all get their chance to shine, especially Yaz and her family and Graham dealing with his grief.
    Chris Noth is brilliantly Trump-esque and the rest of the guest cast provide lots of light-hearted moments.
    The story itself very much reminds me of 3rd Doctor story The Green Death replacing the maggots with giant spiders.

    Likes

    • The Doctor making small talk with Yaz’s family
    • The Doctor and McIntyre seriously discussing the spider problems meanwhile Ryan is doing shadow puppets on the OHP behind them

    Beefs

    • Kevin draws a gun on Yaz and her mum, besides the fact this is totally unusual here in the UK, why doesn’t Yaz say or do anything as she’s an actual police officer?

    Overall, I quite like this story and while it doesn’t do too much that’s original, it is scary and creepy. The regulars all do a good job as do the guest cast. If there’s a downside it’s that the conclusion is a bit quick – the mummy spider is dying anyway, Robertson comes in and shoots her and then seems to get away with all his wrongdoing scot-free.
    I award this 3.9 ordering extra vinegar and garlic puree just in case out of 5.

  3. Daniel McGinley

    Some thoughts:
    – Did the hotel get its carpets from a JD Wetherspoons?
    – The spiders looked fantastic, excellent special effects.
    – Graham was a highlight, as always.
    – Yaz and Ryan sucking up to the doctor in the final scene was cringe.
    – Robertson’s ‘lockdown palace’ was prescient. Well maybe not. It only had enough resources for six months so wouldn’t have seen him through the pandemic.
    – Graham was right on the grime: ‘can you believe they are moving towards that music?’ And the Doctor spot-on with ‘“My fam”. Yes, it doesn’t work. At all.
    – Robertson said he was going to stand for president; a case of a Trump parody trumpeting that he’d be trumping Trump?
    – Once again the monster is…. a white male. Definitely no agenda there. Can’t believe I’m saying this but Tim Shaw is still the best baddy so far . The lack of proper alien-y monsters makes this season feel very un-Who like.
    – Moralising lecture count: two; Season total seven. Spoiler: if the message about dumping rubbish wasn’t clear enough for you, don’t worry, hang tight; you’re in for a treat next series.
    This is an ok episode, with no real stand-out moments. It wasn’t offensive either. If it had been in a previous season it would be one of the lower ranked episodes but in this eleventh season, it’s a relative ‘banger’ and my second favourite story but still only a rating of 2.7/5. Faint Praise indeed.

  4. So the main thing I remember about this episode is how I kept feeling like are they trying to make a Trump character? Especially when he fired someone immediately in like the first 2 minutes. Jack, the meanest of businessmen, costs a man his life with his scheduled bathroom breaks. RIP Kevin, but also how did a bodyguard miss all those shots? I learned some ways to keep spiders out, apparently garlic works on spiders and vampires, thanks Doc.

    Ryan does shadow puppets behind the Doc in the spider lab. Jack says he dislikes Trump. The Doctor ignores many caution signs and finds a landfill of garbage that causes giant spiders? But how? Yaz’s Mom is really concerned about Yaz’s love life and curious if Yaz is dating Ryan or The Doctor. I enjoyed that Ryan and Graham were getting some bonding in right before a spider the size of Aragog from Harry Potter fell from the ceiling. Later when they need to lure the spiders Ryan drops his sick mixtape for the spiders.

    Big spiders can’t breathe? why? Jack is the only one to do the first rational thing and shoot the giant spider. Also what happened to the other spiders? Graham’s sad eyes while remembering Grace are pretty dang sad every time they happen. The funniest moments for me were when The Doctor thinks Jack may be Ed Sheeran or when Ryan and Graham tell Jack that maybe the giant spiders are espionage from the Russians. This was an interesting episode but the plot made no sense and seemed to have some politicization in it. I give it a 1.5/5

  5. Tracey from America | @yecartniatnouf

    We open to the Doctor Who theme. Instead of humming along to the bouncy bass, Husband from America sings “Chibs sucks Chibs sucks”… not an auspicious beginning.

    Since you like to open with questions, here are a few!

    Hmm I don’t really remember this. Is this the one where the thing eats them in a hotel?

    Back to UK half hour later? Wasn’t it early morning when they left the warehouse in a microwave?

    “D’you want me to go get it while you make your terrible Pekora?”

    Today’s Doctor name drop:
    Amelia Earhart

    In retrospect, the line in which the Doctor is unclear on whether she may be seeing Yaz, is hilarious.

    Oh this is why I don’t remember the episode from the first time. You can’t just drop a bunch of experiments into a hole and “marinate” it into a mega spider. I’m not sure if this is not enough sci or not enough fi, but I feel like it’s one of the two.

    Ok what the hell is up with the morality of death in this episode? Doc makes a big deal about killing the spiders- they are living creatures! But she traps them in a locked room to die, “naturally”. Then when Spidermom is suffocating, the Doctor becomes upset when she is shot to death, albeit by a rich brat who was trying to be cruel.
    This problem gets even worse if you add other episodes to it, but I think I’ll save that for a later time.

    Good little speech about time with the Doctor changing you.

    Rating: Spidermom, Spidermom, does whatever a Spidermom does! Can she swing from a web? No she can’t, she is dead. :(

  6. Justforwhoo

    HELLO! Here we are at episode four! To celebrate our arrival at this episode, I even wrote us a little jingle, co-produced by Ed Sheeran:

    *clears throat*

    “The not-so-itsy-bitsy spider smashed through the bathtub, but it died because a knock-off Trump shot it with a gun”.

    I really liked this episode, I know it’s one of those episodes where people fell off the series a bit (I remember seeing a lot of people dislike it when it first aired), but it definitely does set the standard for the Chibnall era – I mean, it really does tick all of the CHIBBS WAS HERE boxes;

    – characters designed for us to immediately dislike (i.e., big bad is bad because they are the big bad)
    – characters designed for exposition because god knows we all love an info dump (to be fair, it felt quite natural in this episode)
    – a side character who is queer (or at least queer coded)
    – something about Sheffield or Yorkshire
    – more subtle characterisation of our TARDIS team/gang/fam

    I think for me the characterisation was the highlight of this episode. They all have their own reasons for travelling with the doctor, whether that be dealing with grief, wanting more from life than working in a warehouse, or slowly but surely realising you’re a sapphic for the doctor (don’t worry Yaz, me too)

    BEST BIT: playing Stormzy to lure and trap spiders into a panic room (i don’t know why but this is just felt VERY doctor who to me)
    WORST BIT: the trumpificiafion of Jack Robinson (we get it Chibbs, he’s the bad guy)

    With that said, I’d give this a 3.8/5.0!

  7. Maxwell Rayner | @thetruemisty

    Who Back When Podcast Release Date (1 May 2022)
    BBC Broadcasting Date (28 October 2018)
    Directed By: Sallie Aprahamian
    Written By: Chris Chibnall

    After still not sleeping, the fam has arrived “home”. Something I want to point out is the dramatic flare when The Doctor pulls out the sonic, is that really that necessary. One thing I didn’t like was the reveal of multiple spiders in different locations. I would have liked to see all of them come from one spot, just multiplying. Skipping past the Mary Poppins bathtub we end up with “Are you Ed Sheeran? Is he Ed Sheeran? Everybody talks about Ed Sheeran right about now don’t they?”. Also The Doctor is constantly saying Yas’s Mum and then Yas’s mum correcting her saying Najia, well done Chris Chibnall you wrote something decently funny for once.

    And then finally we got the shot I wanted, a whole bunch of spiders chasing Graham and Ryan down the hallway. Welcome to will they die, this episode… no, Try again later. Najia asks if Yas and the doctor are seeing each other, is this a hint at Yas’s sexuallity or just some chaos shit shoved into the script last minute. I mean we have seen the long run story lines before with the crack and The Timeless Child (ughhhhhh).

    Again the flare of the sonic (seriously). Tanya Fear as Dr Jade McIntyre was one of the best casting choices for this episode. She gives me Osgood Vibes. Ryan and Graham running from a giant spider, kind of okay but still not dead. Also getting flashbacks to a GIANT WASP and Kill the moon’s bacteria spider dudes. Rave Music was a bop. I give this episode a 3.3/5 zygon or human Osgoods that get constantly killed.

  8. Michael Ridgway | @bad_movie_club

    Likes:

    • There is some scary shit happening right here. Under the bed, on the ceiling, *that* bathtub scene. It’s the freakiest ‘Who since Blink – kudos for that. And the effects are incredible. I had to watch this second time around with the lights on.
    • Nice pathos with Graham and Ghost Grace, and a feel good punch-the-air finale.

    Dislikes:

    • The Doctor has completely lost perspective on so many levels. How is locking an army of hungry spiders in a room a ‘dignified’, ‘humane’ and ‘natural death’. It’s as ridiculous as say, claiming that deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda is a ‘compassionate’, ‘ethical’ and ‘legally sound’ policy. Spiders are cannibals! What do you think they are going to do, Doctor – keel over peacefully Soylent Green style? How is suffocation a better death than a bullet? These Spiders don’t even know what a bullet is! I’d rather take a bullet than have to munch my way out of a room full of my own relatives.
    • What’s this, ‘awe, they’re just confused’ nonsense!? They are cocooning and eating people, Doctor! When you read stories about dogs that kill toddlers, normal people don’t empathise with the dog and mourn it. What is wrong with you? Get a grip Doctor! This is what happens when you don’t have the Brigadier around. He would have broken out the napalm.

    Summary: naff and flawed in many, many ways. But the horror, the horror…

    Rating: 3.9/5. Perhaps overgenerous, but I am in a buoyant mood. I did just see a trailer with the return of Ace – and surely you-know-who isn’t far behind!

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