The Web Of Fear
The TARDIS materialises in modern-day London, where the Doctor, Jamie and
Victoria discover the city deserted and covered in a weird web-like
substance. Meeting up with the military and Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart in
the London Underground, they learn that the Great Intelligence and its
Yeti are active once again. And this time, the Intelligence's main goal is
none other than the possession of the mind of the Doctor.
Doctor Who story editor Peter Bryant was highly impressed with The Abominable Snowmen, a serial written by
Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln which inaugurated the programme's fifth
recording block. Bryant would shortly be promoted to the post of producer,
and he felt that Haisman and Lincoln's adventure was exactly the sort that
he wanted to make more of, particularly with regard to its Earthbound
setting. Bryant was also eager to feature a rematch between the Doctor and
the monsters of the tale, the Yeti. As a result, Haisman and Lincoln were
commissioned to write a new Yeti story, entitled The Web Of Fear,
on September 27th, 1967 -- three days before The
Abominable Snowmen part one was broadcast.
The Web Of Fear was originally intended to enter production as
Serial SS, meaning that it would close out Season Five. However, the
original Serial QQ -- Fury From The Deep --
was found to be in need of extra rewrites, and so it was pushed back one
slot, with The Web Of Fear brought forward to replace it.
Meanwhile, Jack Watling had agreed to reprise his role as Professor
Travers for the new story, giving him a second opportunity to act
alongside his daughter, Deborah. Haisman and Lincoln had decided to set
The Web Of Fear several decades after the events of The Abominable Snowmen, and so Watling would
have to be made up as an elderly man.
The director assigned to The Web Of Fear was Douglas Camfield,
marking his return to Doctor Who after a two-year hiatus since
The Daleks' Master Plan. Camfield changed the
name of Colonel Lethbridge to Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, feeling it
better suited the character. Originally cast in the role was David
Langton, who backed out in late November after being offered other work.
After unsuccessfully pursuing Nicholas Selby, Camfield instead awarded the
part to Nicholas Courtney, who was to have played Captain Knight (Knight,
in turn, would now be portrayed by Ralph Watson). Courtney had started
acting during his National Service days, and had gone on to appear in
programmes such as The Avengers and Softly, Softly: Task
Force. Camfield had previously cast him as Bret Vyon in the opening
installments of The Daleks' Master Plan.
Another character, Colonel Pemberton, was named after former Doctor
Who story editor Victor Pemberton.
The production team instructed that the Yeti be redesigned for The Web
Of Fear, believing that the costumes used in The
Abominable Snowmen were not sufficiently fearsome. The updated
Yeti sported long claws and large glowing eyes, and were somewhat more
compact than their predecessors. Brian Hodgson of the Radiophonic Workshop
also developed a scary “Yeti roar” sound effect for the
previously silent creatures.
Aiming for the utmost authenticity, Camfield hoped to carry out some
location filming in the London Underground, specifically the Aldwych
platform on December 15th and the entrance to Covent Garden on the 17th.
Production assistant Gareth Gwenlan duly wrote to London Transport on
November 7th seeking permission. Unfortunately, London Transport demanded
an exorbitant fee, and restricted filming to just a handful of overnight
hours. The decision was made to instead replicate the Underground in the
studio on sets designed by David Myerscough-Jones. A November 8th request
made by Gwenlan to film the opening scene of episode one in London's
Natural History Museum on December 21st was also turned down.
Production on The Web Of Fear got under way on December 15th with
work at the Ealing Television Film Studios. December 17th was a location
day, with filming of the episode four battle between the military and the
Yeti in a yard owned by TJ Poupart near Shelton Street in Old Covent
Garden. Unfortunately, the extreme brevity of the day meant that Camfield
was not able to complete all the necessary scenes before twilight fell.
Work then moved back to Ealing on December 18th and 20th; model filming
was scheduled for the 19th, but did not proceed.
On December 22nd, both Deborah Watling and Frazer Hines were issued new
contracts covering both The Web Of Fear and Fury From The Deep. Watling had by this point
informed Bryant -- who would take over as producer with Serial QQ, to be
replaced as story editor by his former assistant, Derrick Sherwin -- that
she would be leaving Doctor Who after these two adventures. Bryant
wanted Watling to remain on the show for at least six more stories, but
the actress felt that one year on Doctor Who was enough.
Following a break for Christmas, work on The Web Of Fear resumed at
Ealing on January 3rd, 1968, to film the material which had been planned
for the Natural History Museum. This had been reworked to take place in
Julius Silverstein's private museum. It marked the only appearance of an
original Yeti costume in the serial; once inhabited by the control sphere,
this “transformed” into one of the new-style outfits. The
delayed model filming finally went ahead at the BBC Television Centre
Puppet Theatre on January 8th.
As was the norm for Doctor Who, each episode was recorded at Lime
Grove Studio D on consecutive Saturdays, beginning with part one on
January 13th. The same day, a trailer for the serial was taped, featuring
Patrick Troughton in-character as the Doctor. This included a special
warning advising young viewers that they might find The Web Of Fear
scary and suggesting that they watch the programme with their parents. It
was broadcast at the conclusion of The Enemy Of The
World part six on January 27th. Meanwhile, on the 14th, cast and
crew returned to Poupart's yard to finish the scenes which had had to be
abandoned on the first attempt.
Troughton was absent from the recording of episode two on January 20th.
All the scenes featuring the Doctor had been completed at Ealing, enabling
the actor to take a week's holiday. Although the feet of Colonel
Lethbridge-Stewart appeared at the end of this episode, the character was
played by Maurice Brooks to avoid having to hire Courtney for an extra
week. Courtney joined the cast in studio on the 27th, when Troughton also
returned. Production on The Web Of Fear concluded on February 17th.
Amusingly, at about this time -- midway through the serial's broadcast --
the BBC received a complaint from London Transport, who believed Camfield
had gone ahead and somehow filmed in the Underground without permission or
payment. They were eventually convinced that what they were seeing were
in fact Myerscough-Jones' convincing sets.
- Doctor Who: The Handbook: The Second Doctor by David J Howe,
Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1997), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 0
426 20516 2.
- Doctor Who: The Sixties by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and
Stephen James Walker (1992), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 1 85227 420 4.
- Doctor Who Magazine #235, 14th February 1996, “Archive:
The Web Of Fear” by Andrew Pixley, Marvel Comics UK Ltd.
- Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #4, 4th June 2003,
“Heroes And Villains” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing
||3rd Feb 1968
||10th Feb 1968
||17th Feb 1968
||24th Feb 1968
||2nd Mar 1968
||9th Mar 1968
|Staff Sergeant Arnold|
|Bernard G High|
|Mervyn Haisman and|
|Fight arranged by|
|Title Music by|
|Ron Grainer and|
|the BBC Radiophonic Workshop|
|Special Sound by|
|Brian Hodgson, BBC Radiophonic Workshop|
|Visual Effects designed by|
|Episode 2 (0'14" in 1 clip)|
|Episode 4 (0'41" in 6 clips)|
|Episode 5 (0'03" in 1 clip)|
|Doctor Who: Lost In Time (2004; boxed
|Doctor Who: Lost In Time: The Patrick Troughton
Years (2004; two discs)|
|Doctor Who: The Web Of Fear narrated by
Frazer Hines (2000)|
|Doctor Who: Yeti Attack! narrated by Frazer
Hines (2003; boxed set)|
|Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episode Collection
Five: 1967-1969 narrated by Frazer Hines (2012; boxed set)|
|Doctor Who: The Abominable Snowmen/The Web Of
Fear narrated by Frazer Hines (2003; MP3-CD)|
|Doctor Who and The Web Of Fear by Terrance