The Web of Fear has a special place in the hearts of many Doctor Who fans. It's one of the iconic 60s stories, being part of the "Monster Era", and the last appearance of the Great Intelligence. I'm intrigued by this story, not least due to the fact that so little remains. It has a great premise and shares many elements with the New Series, and is written with much foresight. Jamie in particular shines here and I think the superb writing and believable characters - chiefly Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart - are the main appeal to viewers, new and old.
The sphere glistened brightly in the moonlight. Professor Travers was poking at the orb, examining its minute circuitry. He tutted nervously, trying to understand the mechanism of the device. His laboratory was a clutter of ideas, some evidently tidier than others. Test tubes lay abandoned, racks fully stocked. The door was ajar, but there wouldn’t be anyone around at this time of night - the Professor was quite sure. The lighting in the room wasn’t great, but that was to be expected at this late hour.

Trying to understand and comprehend the sphere’s inner working, Travers found himself stumped. He’d had the object since 1935, so he’d thought it high time he tried to make sense of it. He knew that the Yeti were robot hosts for something called ‘The Great Intelligence’, which transferred its commands directly to the robots, via the spheres, but that was the extent. As an inquisitive scientist, Travers was quite surprised at himself for not having investigated it before.

Travers’ glasses fell from the end of his nose, where they were perched as he worked meticulously. He sighed, knowing it was a sign that it was time for bed. He could always continue work in the morning. It’s not like it’s going anywhere, is it? he thought to himself. He left the sphere open on the workbench, packed up his equipment and sighed. The Professor drew the curtains and looked one last time to the sphere, marveling at its complexity. Whoever designed it, the Professor thought, must be a true genius. The object operated so smoothly and effectively yet it didn’t have any discernible way into understanding it.

Professor Travers sighed again, clicked off the light, and left.

* * *
Morning dawned on the laboratory. The Professor, clothes now changed, but in much the same vein as the preceding night, entered, cup of tea in hand. He drew the curtains to see the early morning sun outside. It was partly obscured by several buildings, but the Professor just appreciated the natural light and the warmth of the sun on his face.

He pulled a few implements from their storage places and sat down at the bench. Taking a long sip of his tea, he swallowed and turned to the sphere - in amazement. A small white light was flashing on the inside of the sphere.

He jumped up in ecstasy. He got it working! By himself! This was fantastic! Now, where was his laboratory record book? He scanned the work surfaces and cursed his lack of organisation at a time like this. Scurrying slowly out of the room, he began to search the building. The pulsating rhythm of the light on the sphere quickened. A window opened by itself, allowing a gentle breeze. A couple of papers were dislodged from their place, adding to the clutter. The sphere somehow resealed itself and began to roll around on the desk. Initially. It seemed like the wind was controlling the direction of movement but after a second of spatial calibration, the orb rolled contently along a worktop. It was moving by itself...

The sphere, now under the influence of The Great Intelligence, rolled up the side of the window. It reached the balancing point on top of the bottom window. It tipped smoothly - and somehow gracefully - over the edge and out. It was gone. Travers re-entered the room just a second later, still notebook-less. He once more scanned the room and spotted it on top of a collection of thick volumes next to the sink. “Aha!” he cried, ready to record the sphere’s reactions and properties.

He returned to his desk, took an excited slurp of tea and settled. Only then did he realise the sphere was missing. His eyebrows rose to a frightening level of shock and performed a quick visual search. It definitely wasn't on the workbench. The Professor dropped to his knees and began an inspection of the floor, in case it had rolled off. What with the window open, it may’ve been blown - the window was open! It hadn’t been open before, had it?

Travers crossed to it and looked out, but there was no sign of anything at all. It was still early. “Where is it? Where is it?” he mumbled to himself, “It can’t just have gone!” He looked around the room one last time before a thought struck him. The Yeti! He raced, now in a frenetic state of panic, out the room and down the stairs. He arrived in a large room, which resembled a museum - as much of Julius Silverstein’s house did. In one corner was a large, furry creature. It was tall and thick, but was definitely still in the room. None of the artifacts in the house were predictable however, and as the Professor crept towards the apparently dormant Yeti with care, he almost bumped into a baby giraffe.

Travers reached out a tentative hand and touched the Yeti. It was most definitely dormant. But for how long?

© Copyright Dave Spilsbury, Niki Hunter & Doctor Who Online, 2012.
Page Updated: 15/7/2012

Written by:
Dave Spilsbury

Artwork by:
Niki Hunter

Doctor Who is © Copyright to the BBC. No infringement intended.