Doctor Who and the Zarbi was the second Doctor Who novelisation ever published. It was based on the 1965 television serial The Web Planet. This was the first Doctor Who novelisation to be written by the original teleplay writer. It became an on-and-off practice for the original writer to be commissioned to write the novelisation when possible (though during the Target Books era other authors such as Terrance Dicks would often be brought in to do so when this wasn't possible).

As the second Doctor Who novelisation, this book established the title format Doctor Who and the ... which would be followed by the Target Books novelisations into the early 1980s.

Publisher's summary Edit

Target Books 1973 edition Edit

DOCTOR WHO lands his space-time machine Tardis on the cold, craggy planet of Vortis. The Doctor and his companions, Ian and Vicki, are soon captured by the ZARBI, huge ant-like creatures with metallic bodies and pincer claws; meanwhile Barbara falls into the hands of the friendly MENOPTERA who have come to rid Vortis of the malevolent power of the ZARBI...

'They're well-written books-adventure stories, of course, but with some thought...the creation of the character of the Doctor had a touch of genius about it.' Westminster Press

1991 Edition Edit

The Doctor stared about him and passed a trembling hand over his brow."The ship!" He muttered. "It's ...gone!"

Drawn to the planet Vortis by some unknown force, the Doctor and his companions find themselves in a barren, cold world dominated by the Zarbi, monstrois metallic ant-like creatures at war with delicate Menoptra. Searching for the lost TARDIS, the Doctor must struggle with the Animus-seemingly a creature of evil and light...

The Web Planet was first broadcast in 1965 and featured William Hartnell in the role of the Doctor. This novel, adapted by Bill Strutton from his own script, is a example of the early style of Doctor Who novelistions and was originally published under the title of Doctor Who and the Zarbi.

Doctor Who- The Web Planet is available on BBC video and has recently been broadcast on BSB television.

April 2016 BBC paperback edition Edit

Doctor Who stared about him and passed a trembling hand over his brow. "The ship!" he muttered. "It's...gone!"

Affected by a strange force, the TARDIS is dragged down to the desolate planet of Vortis. Until they can discover what is holding them there, the Doctor and his friends are trapped on the planet...

The Doctor, Ian and Vicki are soon captured by the Zarbi - huge, ant-like creatures controlled by the parasitic alien Animus. Meanwhile, Barbara runs into a group of Menoptera, butterfly-like creatures that have been driven from their home planet by the Animus, and plan to return with an invasion force. But the Zarbi know their plans and are waiting for the Menoptera...

This novel is based on a Doctor Who story which was originally broadcast from 13 February-20 March 1965.

Featuring the First Doctor as played by Willam Hartnell with his companions Barbara, Ian, and Vicki.

November 2016 BBC hardcover edition Edit

The Zarbi, huge ant-like creatures with metallic bodies and pincer claws, are waiting for Tardis when it’s police-box shape materialises on the cold and craggy planet Vortis. They capture Doctor Who, Ian and Vicki and take them to their weird headquarters, a city of web-like organic matter.

But the Zarbi are not the only being in Vortis. Barbara has fallen into the hands of the butterfly-creatures with soft voices and iridescent wings, whose civilisation has been destroyed by the Zarbi. She learns that her captors are only the advance party of Menoptera in exile who plan to win back their planet by and invasion form outerspace. For the Zarbi “have brought the dark age to Vortis”.

In the final thrilling chapters, Doctor Who and the crew of tardis encounter the power which controls both the Zarbi and the living Web City. How can they defeat this strange bladder of dazzling light which draws in and absorbs all who come into its presence?[1]

Chapter titles Edit

  1. The Web Planet
  2. The Zarbi
  3. Escape to Danger
  4. The Crater of Needles
  5. Invasion
  6. Centre of Terror

Deviations from televised story Edit

  • The First Doctor is mostly referred to as "Doctor Who" throughout the book, one of the few occasions where the standard naming protocol is broken.
  • The Menoptera Vrestin is male. The character was female in the televised story.
  • The character of Hrhoonda is replaced by Challis. A fourth Menoptera named Zota is also present in the cave scenes. Zota, along with Challis, is killed by a larvae gun.
  • The Menoperta radio is described as having flashing lights and an antenna. On-screen, the radio unit is crystalline.
  • The larvae guns are called venom grubs.
  • The Zarbi throw nets over the Doctor and Ian when they first capture them. On-screen, no such event happens.
  • There is a reference made to the events of TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth, concerning the Doctor and Ian's imprisonment on the Dalek saucer.
  • The scene in which the Doctor tries to give Vicki a choclate bar to calm her is removed.
  • The Menoptera slaves do not have their wings entirely cut off, merely "short-clipped".
  • The Optera Nemini is male. The character was female on-screen.
  • The Animus plans "to pluck from the earth its myriad techniques... in its hundredth Christian millennium... !", possibly indicating the time this story takes place.

Writing and publishing notes Edit

  • The book was originally published by Frederick Muller in September 1965.
  • Doctor Who and the Zarbi was one of three titles bought by Target from Frederick Muller that were used to launch the series of Doctor Who novelisations. It was released on 2 May 1973. The hardback edition illustrations were retained.
  • Quickly sold out of the first 20,000 copies and reprinted.[which?]
  • Chris Achilleos was excited by the idea of drawing giant ants but was told they had to look like those in the series.
  • The Target edition title page information includes: "THE CHANGING FACE OF DOCTOR WHO The cover illustration and others contained within this book portray the first DOCTOR WHO whose physical appearance was later transformed when he discarded his worn-out body in favour of a new one."
  • This title was renamed Doctor Who - The Web Planet in its later reprint. The paperback release on 28 April 2016 and the hardcover Frederick Muller facsimile on 3 November 2016, both published by BBC Books, reverted to the Doctor Who and the Zarbi title.

Audio release Edit

This story was released in a five-CD format. It was read by William Russell (Ian). It was later released in the limited edition in Travels in Time and Space alongside the audio releases of Doctor Who and the Crusaders and Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks.

Additional cover images Edit

British publication history Edit

First publication:

  • Hardback
W.H. Allen & Co. Ltd. UK
  • Paperback
Target (2 May 1973)


  • Paperback
Target / Virgin Publishing Ltd. UK (January 1991). Cover by Alistair Pearson (£2.50 UK)
BBC Books (28 April 2016)
  • Hardcover
BBC Books (3 November 2016). Facsimile of the Frederick Muller original.

Editions published outside Britain Edit

  • Published in Portugal in 1983 by Editorial Presença as Doutor Who E Os Zarbi.
  • Published in the Netherlands in 1974 by De Gooise Uitgeverij - Bussum / Unieboek B V – Bussum as Doctor Who En De Zarbi's.

External links Edit

to be added

Footnotes Edit