The Web of Fear (1968)

The Web of Fear is that rare thing in Doctor Who in that it’s a sequel that is better than the original. The first story which aired just three months before and it’s impressive that they managed to achieve what they did. The story has been moved from the monastery of Tibet to the Underground tunnels of London. This story is set some forty years or so after the events of the first story. The story also sees Nicholas Courtney return to Doctor Who but debut as Lethbridge-Stewart. A role that he would play for on and off for twenty-two years. The story is written by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln which means that there is a consistency to the feel of the story which works in its favour.

We are introduced to Travers who was one of the impressive things about The Abominable Snowmen but this time he is crankier and old because so much time has elapsed since that story. As a result we meet Ann Travers who is quite
The thing that makes this story impressive is that it’s the setting. When you set the story somewhere like Tibet. Ok it’s on Earth and you could get to it on a plane but it’s not ‘local’. Moving the action to an area of the country that is used by millions (including myself once) adds to the drama. The main aim from the Yeti is pretty much the same as it was in the Abominable Snowmen but to be honest its not necersarily a bad point. Their plan is done slightly better than it was in the first point and that is due to the setting and the characters.

Evans is a character that shines quite late in the story. With the serious tone of the story he does add a slight touch of comedy relief. It does seem like his Welsh accent is a bit over the top. I don’t know if that is how he talks or not but if it is then it’s a bit unfortunate. I was impressed with Tina Packer as Ann Travers. She does a good job and is constantly impressive throughout. She doesn’t resort to the dumb female character and is sort of a pre-cursor to Liz Shaw who would be in the show within two years. It’s only going through this story in my marathon that I appreciate that Nicholas Courtney got the role of Lethbridge Stewart nailed down straight away. Only thing that is missing are Benton and Yates.

In the latter half of the story there is a sense that there is a mole in the army group. It’s a nice plot device that is effectively used and helps move the story along just when it could get a bit tired. On that subject, I haven’t been over the top with praise on six parters in this season as I think the stories start to sag in the middle and lose something by the end. On this occasion though this story doesn’t feel like its running out of steam and it’s the inclusion of the Army that helps make this story feel different and makes its stand out against the previous Yeti story. The Web of Fear is the best story of the series (just pippin The Tomb of the Cybermen) and that isn’t something I say lightly. It has everything that even a non Sci-Fi fan would want and the story tells a good adventure and the only other thing that would have made it better were if it existed in full on VHS or DVD.


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