11 questions (and some answers) we have after Doctor Who: Arachnids in the UK

Series 11 episode 4's spooky spider-themed episode raised a few interesting ideas…


Doctor Who series 11’s fourth episode was a truly spooky spider-fest, with the Doctor and her team chasing mutated arachnids through Sheffield before tracking them down to a cobwebbed hotel for a final showdown.


While the episode was a little bit more light fun than the previous week’s Rosa Parks episode, it did still raise a few weighty questions, which we’ll try our very best to solve for you below.

Obviously, from hereon out spoilers are coming…

Was Arachnids in the UK too scary?


This really might depend on your personal level of arachnophobia. While the episode doesn’t go TOO scary when it comes to the spiders – it’s still a kids’ show, and once they’ve emerge from the shadows the spiders seem a bit more normal – people who already have a problem with spiders or younger kids might struggle.

To be fair, even the actors in the episode including Mandip Gill and Shobna Gulati have revealed their fear of spiders, so if you were scared you’re definitely not the only one.

But what do you think – was Arachnids in the UK a step too far even in Halloween week? Vote now!

Where have I seen that guest star before?

Doctor Who Series 11

Both the episode’s main guest stars, Shobna Gulati and Chris Noth, have long TV careers behind them, so you might have seen them in any number of roles.

Gulati, who plays Yaz’s mum Najia, is probably best known for dinnerladies and Coronation Street (as we’ve gone into more detail about in our interview with her here), while Noth (who plays US businessman Jack Shepherd) is recognised worldwide for his roles in Sex and the City and The Good Wife.

Doctor Who Series 11

Did the Doctor really have sisters?

Lonely Doctor Who

Early in the episode, the Doctor reveals some surprising details of her past, suggesting in a conversation with Yaz’s family that she may have had sisters at one point.

“Sisters. I used to have sisters – I used to be a sister, in an aqua hospital,” the Doctor says.

“Actually turned out to be a training camp for the Quistin Calcium Assassins.”

So was the Doctor just talking about nursing, or did she really mean that she once had siblings? Well, it could be both – or neither – but it’s definitely not the first time the Doctor has referred to having a now-gone family, as we’ve explained here…

How scientifically accurate is this episode?



Arachnids in the UK is absolutely peppered with facts about spiders – but are they all true?

Well, we checked with an expert and according to him some of the claims do ring true. Spiders do “smell” with their legs, spider silk could be woven stronger than steel, and a giant spider probably wouldn’t be able to survive.

That said, a few other parts of the episode are less well backed up by scientific research.

Check out our full breakdown of the episode’s scientific reality here.

Was that the psychic paper?

David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor in The Shakespeare Code (2007, BBC)
David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor in The Shakespeare Code (2007, BBC)

Good spot! When the Doctor first meets Robertson, she whips out the regularly-used gadget to convince him she has the right credentials to be a “crisis investigator.”

Blink and you’ll miss it, but it’s there.

Will Grace be back in the series again?


Sharon D Clarke’s Grace makes a surprise return in Arachnids in the UK, appearing to Graham (Bradley Walsh) in his mind when he returns to their home. It reminds viewers how difficult life will be for him without her.

In the end, this is what encourages Graham to leave Sheffield behind and go travelling with the Doctor – but will we ever see Grace again, whether as a hallucination or actually in person? Sure, she died in the series’ first episode, but Graham does now have access to a time machine…

How much is a quadrillion?


Tanya Fear’s scientist character Jade suggests that there are 24 quadrillion spiders on Earth – but what does that number actually mean? Well, in British numbering a quadrillion is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 aka 10 to the power of 24 aka A LOT OF SPIDERS IF YOU THEN TIMES THAT BY 24.

Yep – Earth has a lot of spiders on it.

Did you spot the Ghostbusters reference?

Was it just us, or was there something very Venkman, Egon and Ray about Jodie Whittaker advancing into a hotel ballroom armed with a backpack and long rod-based weapon ready to take on a mysterious monster.

No? Ah well, maybe it was just a coincidence.

Will Robertson be back?

Doctor Who series 11 ep 4 Chris Noth

At the end of the episode Chris Noth’s tycoon and wannabe President Jack Robertson never really gets his comeuppance for indirectly causing the spider outbreak, instead just shooting the largest spider and then walking out of his hotel for good.

Frankly, it felt a slightly anti-climactic end for the character – so could we see him in the series again?

After all, considering his stated bid to run for US President in 2020 (which is actually the last thing he mentions to the Doctor), he could end up being a formidable adversary for the Tardis team in a future adventure.

Maybe he’ll turn up for the series finale, maybe he’ll be back in another series, or maybe he’ll crop up in another episode altogether – the later episodes of the new series are still a mystery – but however it might work, we’re just hoping we haven’t seen the last of him.

Wait, did all the spiders just die?


The Doctor’s grand plan for dealing with Sheffield’s giant spider infestation was to tempt them back to Robertson’s hotel using music, then trap them inside his state-of-the-art panic room.

So yes, basically the Doctor decided to just lock the spiders up to suffocate or starve to death, rather than trying to shrink them down or take them to some alien zoo or faraway planet to live out their days in peace. Arguably, not much better than Robertson’s suggestion to just shoot them all dead.

What was the grime track that played during the episode?

And if you were wondering what the grime track was that the team ended up using to tempt said spiders to the panic room, well, it was Know Me From by Stormzy. Just call us Shazam.

That’s all the questions we had for this week’s episode – but did you spot anything else? Let us know on Facebook or on Twitter.

Doctor Who continues on BBC1 on Sundays


This article was originally published on 28 October 2018