Arachnids in the UK was the fourth episode of Series 11 of Doctor Who.

The Thirteenth Doctor finally returns Graham, Ryan and Yasmin to Sheffield, just half an hour after they had left. Notably, these new companions actively choose to travel with her at the end of this episode.

It also marks the fourth time in Doctor Who history that spiders have been the threat of the episode. This role had previous been filled by the Eight Legs in Planet of the Spiders, the Racnoss in The Runaway Bride and the Spider germs in Kill the Moon.

It also marked the debut of the new version of the time vortex in-show. Unlike previous versions, where the TARDIS flies through one single pathway, this version shows multiple different paths.

Synopsis Edit

The Thirteenth Doctor finally manages to bring her friends home, but with more time alone on the horizon, she soon discovers that something unnatural has happened to the eight-legged population of Sheffield. Why have they converged on an unopened hotel, and why is there a man going around like he owns the place?

Plot Edit

Time Vortex AitUK

The TARDIS flies through the vortex

The TARDIS flies through the time vortex. Inside, the ride is very bumpy as the Doctor works at sparking controls to get the TARDIS to cooperate.

The TARDIS materialises at an apartment complex in Sheffield, present day Earth. The Thirteenth Doctor pokes her head out of the TARDIS, happy to finally have gotten her companions back home. Yaz, Ryan and Graham exit after the Doctor, happy to be back. Yaz checks her phone, noting that she doesn't have any new messages. The Doctor tells her that its because the TARDIS has landed half an hour after they initially left. Yaz notes that they are right outside her apartment, with Ryan noting how weird it is as he and Graham only live a short distance away. Graham tells the Doctor that it's been and honour to meet her; a compliment she returns. Ryan wonders what the Doctor will do next, to which the Doctor says she'll resume traveling now that she has her TARDIS back.

Seeing how sad the Doctor is to part ways with them, Yaz asks if she wants to join her for tea. The Doctor's face brightens; she accepts the invitation, shutting the TARDIS doors. Yaz also invites Ryan and Graham, but Graham declines, deciding he wants to stop by home first. Ryan offers to come with him, but Graham kindly tells him that he needs some time to himself.

Graham stands outside his house, looking on, When he finally decides to enter, Graham looks around and imagines Grace playfully scolding him to remember where things are and when the trash is to be taken out. Graham tells his imaginary wife that he has so much to tell her about his travels.

Back at Yaz's apartment complex, she, the Doctor and Ryan pass a woman in the hall. The woman is noticeably concerned and keeps trying to get the resident of a nearby flat to answer the door. The Doctor notices, but dismisses the thought. Yaz leads the Doctor and Ryan in her flat; she calls out to her family, telling them she brought friends. Yaz then mutters to the two that she hopes they're out. However, Yaz is out of luck; her father, Hakim, pops around from the kitchen, surprised that she's brought friends home for tea. He calls to Yaz's sister, Sonya, who walks out to meet them. Unlike Hakim, Sonya is skeptical that they are Yaz's friends, asking if she paid them to pretend to be her friends.

Elsewhere, at a lavish hotel. Businessman Jack Robertson is talking with his personal assistant Frankie Ellish in the hotel ballroom. She is protesting against an idea of his. Jack reminds her that they're family through Frankie marrying Jack's niece; that's why he trusts her to get things done. Jack's bodyguard Kevin enters, informing Jack that his private plane is waiting for him; however, Jack tells him that the plane will leave when he tells it to. Another woman walks into the room, much to Jack's surprise; it's Najia Khan, Yaz's mum. She tells Robertson that she can in early to do some prep work, being the manager. However, he impatiently fires her and walks out, after telling Frankie to deal with the problem.

Back at the Kahn's flat. Yaz, Sonya and Ryan sit at the table, while the Doctor looks around and marvels at the idea of flats. She thinks to herself that she could buy a flat, rambling on; she then asks Ryan if she was being weird. Once he confirms it, the Doctor says she's trying small talk, but is a bit nervous. She then notices a large pile of junk in the room, wondering if Hakim collects it like stamps. Much to Yaz's annoyance, Hakim says that its evidence as there has to be some kind of conspiracy. The Doctor smiles, loving a good conspiracy. Yaz tells her father that she asked the police to look into it. Sonya jokes that Yaz is married to her job, to which Yaz snidely remarks Sonya is unemployed.

Yaz gets a call from her mum, asking her to come pick her up; she also tells Yaz not to tell anyone as they'd only get worried. When asked about the call, Yaz lies that her mum just forgot something. Hakim tells her to hurry back as he'll be making pakora for tea. Yaz gives a frightened look, telling him not to as he's really bad at making it. As Yaz leaves, the Doctor thinks about how the sisters mock each other, reminiscing about having once had sisters. She then notices a piece of mail that states their neighbor has gotten a parcel for them by mistake. Hakim confirms it, stating that he's tried to get it, but hasn't been able to get an answer from his neighbor for days. Seeing a chance to pass the time, the Doctor offers to get the parcel "while [he] makes [his] terrible pakora."

Back at Graham's house, he is smelling Grace's jackets. His imaginary Grace chides him for doing something so silly as it won't change the fact she's gone. Graham hears a thud from the attic and heads up to check. He finds it filled with webs, and an unusually large shed spider skin on the floor.

At the hotel, Frankie has become fed up with working for Robertson and heads down to an underground area out of bounds to the public. However, the remains unaware of the large amount of webs in the basement corridor. Frankie uses her mobile phone to record a testimony to reveal a secret Robertson has been keeping from the public. However, she is attacked by a spider off-screen.

Flat 27 (Park Hill)

The Doctor discovers something is wrong.

At Yaz's flat, the Doctor and Ryan leave to collect the parcel. They find the woman from earlier still outside the flat, which is the very same one they need to visit. The woman introduces herself as Jade, explaining that one of her colleagues, Anna, hasn't been to work in a few days; she hasn't called in sick, so this is concerning. The Doctor asks if she's concerned about Anna enough to force her way in, to which Jade confirms. The Doctor helps by unlocking the door with the sonic. All three enter the flat, finding it covered in spider webs. The Doctor doubles checks how long its been since Jade heard from Anna, which is only a few days. Ryan notes that it looks like more than a few days from the lack of cleanliness.

They head down to the bedroom. They open the door to find a silhouette of a person of the bed. Jade calls out to Anna as Ryan pulls back the curtains. The lights reveals a dead Anna on her bed, covered in spider webs. A panicked Ryan joins the Doctor and Jade, asking if that spiders aren't supposed to do that. The Doctor tells him that's the wrong question; the question is WHERE is the spider that did this? They carefully approach a wardrobe and open it; however, nothing is in it. The Doctor and Jade move for the door as Ryan checks under the bed. Something moves, startling him back to the door. A spider the size of a small dog crawls out. Jade and the Doctor note that its domestic, but way too big. They very carefully open the door and rush out. The Doctor orders Ryan to block the door while she gets some things. A very panicked Ryan tries calming himself, but finds the spider trying to reach under the door.

Jade joins the Doctor as Ryan yells for her to hurry. Jade realizes that the spider got in through the rubbish chute, wondering if they can force it back out through there. However, the Doctor is against the idea; it will be a bigger threat if released into the public. They have to trap it in here until they can devise a better way to deal with it. The Doctor takes some vinegar and garlic from the kitchen and spreads it on the floor, walls and ceiling in a square. She calls Ryan up and he rushes to join them. The Doctor explains that spiders smells through their feet; the strong smell of garlic and the acidity in the vinegar will dissuade the spider from following them. The spider approaches and just as the Doctor explained, the barrier works; she tells the spider to say put while she deals with this.

In the Kahns flat, Hakim and Sonya are waiting for Yaz, the Doctor and Ryan to return. Hakim notes its taking them a long time to retrieve a parcel.

Back to Yaz. She's driven up to hotel to pick up her mum, meeting her in the lobby. Yaz is impressed her mum works there, but Najia tells her that she just got fired. When Yaz asks who, Robertson enters with his bodyguard Kevin hostility pointing a gun at both Kahns. Robertson states that he fired Najia, but she is still there (now trespassing) and called in another person. Najia tells the arrogant man that she called her daughter for a ride home. However, Yaz demands to know why. Mistaking her for a teenager, Robertson says she should be in school and that if he hadn't fired Najia, he would have ten minutes ago when he saw the rooms. Both Yaz and Najia demand to know what he means.

Elsewhere. The Doctor, Ryan and Jade rush out of the flat and lock the door behind them. Graham joins them, telling the Doctor about what he found in his house. Catching her breath, the Doctor notes Jade wasn't surprised by the spider webs in the flat and demands to know what she knows. Jade explains that this wasn't the first incident; something is wrong with the spiders in Sheffield. She then explains that she's a scientist that works with arthropods and arachnids. As they walk off, Graham hands Ryan a letter addressed to him from his father that he found at the house; Ryan simply pockets it.

Wood Hill area map (AITUK)

The Doctor drawsa map marking the spider's location.

They head to Jade's lab, where Jade explains her lab has been working on enlarging spiders to harvest their web as its more durable than Kevlar. The Doctor agrees, noting web as thick as a pencil can stall a plane, something she and Amelia Earhart had to deal with. Pulling out a map, Jade reveals areas of unusual spider activity; but is all this out anger, confusion or fear? However, the Doctor instead realizes the spiders are sending a message, grabbing a marker and connecting the dots on the map. It forms a webs with an empty area in the middle: Robertson's hotel.

At the hotel, Robertson shows Najia and Yaz a room covered in webs, which he blames on her for poor house keeping. He fires her again, noting its time for his scheduled bathroom break; he and Kevin head for the next room, warning the Kahns to be gone by the time he's done. Yaz hears a strange sound coming from the wall and listens, unaware a large spider is on the other side. Najia gets a call, telling Yaz its a doctor; Yaz takes the call, knowing its the Doctor. The Doctor asks Yaz to let her group in the hotel.

In the bathroom, Robertson is washing up. He hears an odd sound coming from the tub, but dismisses it. Suddenly, the tub starts cracking. The tub "explodes" with Robertson backing up to the door; he yells in panic as a giant spider crawls out. Kevin opens the door, gun ready; Robertson shuts him in with it. In the lobby, the Doctor greets Najia with a hug; she tells her that she made an awesome human. Everyone hears gunshots, immediately racing to find the source. Robertson asks Kevin through the door if he killed the spider; he cracks open the door to see the spider on top of Kevin and silently closes the door in terror. He then realizes in horror that his phone was in there; unfortunately, Kevin grabs it in his futile attempts to escape as the spider drags him back into the hole.

Robertson runs back into the hall, where the Doctor uses the psychic paper to ;pass herself off as a "Crisis Investigator". She asks for a full explanation about what he just saw; Robertson recaps VERY clearly what happened. The Doctor takes Yaz with her to investigate. Robertson remains with the group, being recognized by Graham and Ryan. In the bathroom, the Doctor decides to poke her head down the hole to see what's down there. Hearing a skittering, she turns to see a spider and rushes back out of the hole; she pulls Yaz with her back to safety. The Doctor tells everyone they need to get somewhere bright and not so abandoned for some safety against the spiders. However, Robertson and Ryan are for leaving altogether. Everyone agrees and starts running. Robertson asks Graham who they are, being told that "run now, ask questions later" is the best way to stay alive. Everyone reaches the lobby, only to find that the spiders have webbed up the entrance to trap them. Realizing the spiders intend to trap them as prey, the Doctor asks Najia where the brightest room is in the hotel- the kitchen.

Everyone races into the kitchen, with the Doctor noting they need to find a way to deal with the spiders. Robertson interrupts, but becomes fearful at the idea of there being more than one giant spider. The Doctor initially mistakes Robertson for Ed Sheeran, finding out Robertson is just another greedy, egocentric businessman. Jade adds Robertson is even planning to run for President of the United States just because he hates Donald Trump. After her companions firmly say she's in charge, the Doctor begins thinking, asking for facts to help solve the problem. Najia remembers that Frankie was telling Robertson about something he wanted taken care of; Robertson reveals that the hotel is built over an old mine. They have to find out if the hotel is a target or the spiders' base. The Doctor tells everyone that they need to find out what Roberson is hiding and to capture a spider.

Robertson leads the Doctor, Yaz, Najia and Jade to the basement corridor. They arrive at the door Frankie entered, but its locked; however, that's not a problem for the Doctor. The Doctor opens the lock with the sonic and everyone follows her inside. Yaz finds a fuse box and gets the power back on, revealing a tunnel covered in webs. Robertson reveals that this used to be a mine, but he bought the land and re purposed it into a hotel. They come across two cocoons, which contain the bodies of Frankie and Kevin. The Doctor smells something horrid further in, finding 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 cut corners to make their bottoms lines. The Doctor notes that this is effectively toxin waste, building up and getting more toxic; the smell is even reaching Park Hill flats, which is what make Rakim so suspicious. Jade then reveals that JLR takes their lab waste; she concludes that one of the presumed dead spiders was actually barely alive and ended up in the toxic waste. The Doctor realizes that it's augmented lifespan was mutated by the waste, causing it to grow to colossal size.

In the hotel hallway, Graham is talking to himself. It draws a spider, which slowly approaches him. However, before it can do anything, Ryan slams a pot over it and Graham slips a lid underneath to trap it. Ryan looks behind Graham in fear, telling him to run. They proceed to run back to the kitchen as a horde of spiders crawl after them. Back in the kitchen, Jade examines the specimen, wondering if its the biggest one. Ryan tells her that there's no way that they're going back out there to find another one. Jade hesitantly tells him that it's most likely the case. The Doctor asks to be shown a map of the hotel.

Graham and Ryan head to the ballroom, where Ryan reveals that he read the letter; his father wants him to come live with him, since Graham isn't his biological family. Ryan says he's not for it, making Graham happy. However, both realize that they didn't check the ceiling when they walked in. They shine their torches up and find an ENORMOUS spider on the ceiling. As they turn and run, it lands with a loud thud. It chases after them, but they manage to slam the doors in its face. At the same time, the Doctor is examining a map of the hotel to find a way to trap the spiders. Robertson reveals that his panic room isn't on the map, so its not accurate. Najia asks Yaz to explain who the Doctor is to her, but is ignored. Pestered, Yaz tells her mother that she owes the Doctor her life on more than a few occasions.

Everyone meets back in the kitchen. The Doctor wonders what they found. Graham explains that the spider was the size of a large van; the Doctor concludes its the mother spider, and the rest are its babies. The Doctor then realizes that the reason that the spiders have sudden appeared is because every living thing in the universe has the instinct to come back home. She tells Jade that Anna likely had the pheromones on her from working at the lab, accidentally calling to a spider that left to hunt for food. The Doctor asks to be shown Robertson's panic room.

Robertson reveals his panic room has six months worth of supplies inside, along with guns. Ryan tells him the Doctor is against guns. Robertson wonders what's wrong with them, as guns are a "civilized" way to deal with a threat. The Doctor says they are going to lure the spiders with the promise of food and lock them inside, allowing them to die off in peace. As spiders sense food through vibrations, the Doctor asks if anyone has any ideas. Ryan complies, playing Stormzy's song "Know Me From" over the speakers in the hotel. The spiders head for the source, all the while, with Ryan and Yaz by the gate to the panic room area, and Robertson by the actual door.

Once the spiders are secured, everyone heads to the spa, where the Doctor tells them to stock up on essential oils. She tells them to meet her in the ballroom. They enter, armed with spraying packs; the Doctor explains that its diluted strong-smelling oils, which they can hopefully use to herd the spider outside. However, Jade stops them; she notes that the mother spider has gotten too big to breath efficiently. The Doctor apologies to the spider for its fate, just as Robertson enters and shoots it. The spider roars in pain, falling over dead. The Doctor tells Robertson that it was already dying; Robertson passes it off as a mercy-killing, stating that his was of thinking will get him into the White house one day. As Robertson walks off, Ryan can only quip "God help us [if that happens]."

That night, Ryan heads out to say good-bye to the Doctor. Graham lingers, as his imaginary Grace tells him to get going. In her flat, Yaz listens to her family bicker; her mother telling her father to get rid of the trash. Hearing they're out of bread, Yaz offers to go get some. Najia thanks her, telling Yaz that she better tell her about who the Doctor is when she gets back. Yaz smiles, stating she will when she gets back.

Outside the TARDIS, Yaz, Ryan and Graham have gathered. Graham knocks on the TARDIS and the doors open on their own. They walk inside, finding the Doctor at the console. She asks if this is really good-bye. However, Graham states that he's changed his mind, as he wants to see more of the universe to help him move past his grief. Ryan doesn't want to go back to his job, having found life in the TARDIS to be more fulfilling. Yaz states that traveling with the Doctor is better than being driven insane by her family. Happy to not have to travel alone or find a new companion, the Doctor welcomes her 'fam" back to the TARDIS However, finding that it doesn't sound right, the Doctor asks if Team TARDIS sounds better; they agree. Together, they pull the lever to start their new adventures through time and space.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.

References Edit

People Edit

Locations Edit

Species Edit

  • Giant spiders and their mother have infested Robertson's hotel.
  • Jade and Anna are studying arachnids and arthropods.
    • One of the spiders is given the Latin name Hirsutus.
  • Spider-web can be as strong as kevlar, as indicated by Jade.
  • The Doctor says that she and the others are like flies.

Businesses Edit

  • Najia briefly works as General Manager for Robertson Luxury Hotels.
    • Robertson says that it is only one in a very successful chain of hotels which is only one small part of his business portfolio.
      • The one in Yorkshire used to be a coal mine.
  • Royal Mail have delivered a parcel which needs collecting from Flat 27.
  • JLR Disposal gets rid of waste.
  • On the bottle that the Doctor carries, it says Trapex Export.
  • Robertson says he's gonna get into the White House by any means.

Music Edit

  • Ryan plays "Know Me From" to attract the spiders.
    • The music is on Raze, which Ryan calls "Sheffield's sickest grime station!"

Technology Edit

Food and beverages Edit

  • The Doctor agrees to come for tea in Yaz's flat.
  • The Khan family has cornflakes, apples, cinnamon rolls and shished chicken.
  • Hakim offers to cook pakora - a dish which Yaz states that he's terrible at.
  • Graham and Grace had a bowl of lemons and pears.
  • Anna has tins of chickpeas, baked beans, crisps (including nacho crisps), Organic Raspberry Burst tea, bovril, garlic and vinegar in her flat.
  • After saying she eats danger for breakfast, the Doctor says she prefers cereal or croissants or a little portuguese thing.
  • Robertson has food and water in his panic rooms.
  • Yaz says there's no more bread.

Chemicals Edit

  • The spiders don't like the acetic acid in vinegar.
  • The spider carcasses have been reanimated and grown to giant size due to toxic waste of methane, sulphide and trichloroethylene.
  • The spiders' pheromones caused disruption in the normal spiders' behaviour.
  • The Doctor uses peppermint and tea tree oil diluted with water as a spider repellent.

Story notes Edit

  • This story introduced the new version of the Time Vortex, providing an in-depth view of the TARDIS flying through it.
  • This is the second Doctor Who story to feature giant spiders following Jon Pertwee's regeneration story Planet of the Spiders.
  • While the Doctor says in this episode she's never had a flat before, previous stories such as PROSE: Verdigris and PROSE: Endgame indicate otherwise.
  • The plot of the episode 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, along with the spiders using an abandoned mine as their lair.
  • The first place the Doctor checks for a spider in Anna's flat is in the wardrobe, echoing back to what her eleventh incarnation said about face spiders.
  • The title of this episode is a play on the Sex Pistols song title Anarchy in the UK.
  • Almost every science fiction fact about spiders mentioned or done in the episode has its ground in real-world science.[1]
  • Internationally renowned zoologist and conservationist Dr Niall Doran was consulted for this episode.[2]

Ratings Edit

  • 6.43 million (UK overnight)[3]
  • 8.22 million (UK final)[4]
  • 900,000 (US figures)[5]

Filming locations Edit

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.

to be added

Continuity Edit

Home video releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

to be added

Blu-ray releases Edit

to be added

Digital releases Edit

to be added

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit

  3. Doctor Who viewer ratings
  4. Ratings, UK final
  5. [ Doctor Who ratings, United States]