In the Zarbi control chamber a glass dome descends from the roof and covers the Doctor's head. He hears a powerful female voice demanding to know why they have come here...
The unseen speaker believes the time travellers to be Menoptra, who are threatening to invade Vortis. The Doctor assures her that he knows nothing of these creatures, but agrees to help defend against them. By way of coercion, a tendril on the wall - a form of weapon - rises and fires at the TARDIS. It has no effect, as the TARDIS power has returned and its defences are now active.
The voice is that of the Animus, which controls the Zarbi, and this organic lair which it is creating for itself is known as the Carzenome.
The Doctor is able to convince it that he can be trusted to help. Ian is taken into the TARDIS to treat the stings he previously received from the web trap on the surface. He is planning an escape. They have learned that Barbara has been captured as well, and is being held in a place called the Crater of Needles. Ian intends to go there and find her.
The Doctor has Vicki bring the TARDIS Astral Map device out of the ship. He tells the Animus that he cannot get it to work due to interference from the control chamber systems, and requests that they be temporarily shut down - a ruse to allow Ian to escape.
The Animus agrees, and the Zarbi become dormant.
Ian runs through the passages of the Carzenome in search of the portal leading outside. He finds himself trapped by closing wall panels as a Larvae Gun approaches. It fires on him, but this proves beneficial as it actually opens a gap for him to dash through. He reaches the entrance and escapes onto the surface of the planet. As he takes cover on a crag overlooking the Carzenome, he is suddenly joined by a Menoptra - Vrestin - who swoops down.
In the control chamber the Doctor is able to convince the Animus that Ian was acting alone, as he and Vicki have not tried to leave.
When Ian accuses Vrestin's people of being invaders she explains that Vortis was once their home as well, but they were forced to abandon it when the Animus took control over the Zarbi. It had arrived unnoticed, only discovered when it was too late. The Menoptra took refuge on the nearby planet of Pictos, but this is remote from their sun and they will eventually die out if they stay there much longer.
The Animus has established itself at the planet's magnetic pole, and has attracted several small moons to the orbit of Vortis.
In the Zarbi control chamber, the Doctor has managed to break into the Menoptra communications and learns of their massing on Pictos, prior to invading Vortis to retake their planet. They have selected the nearby Sayo Plateau, which lies above the Crater of Needles.
The Doctor decides to keep this information to himself, to keep the Animus at bay for a while longer. He sends Vicki to fetch a recording compound from the TARDIS but his directions cause her to bring him a specimen of a large spider-like creature instead. The Zarbi guards appear frightened by this.
Outside, Ian and Vrestin are being pursued amongst the crags.
As the Zarbi close in on them, they are forced to hide in a crevice in a rockface. The ground suddenly collapses beneath their feet and they plunge into the darkness...
Next episode: Crater of Needles
Written by: Bill Strutton
Recorded: Friday 5th February 1965 - Riverside Studio 1
First broadcast: 5:40pm, Saturday 27th February 1965
Ratings: 12.5 million / AI 53
Designer: John Wood
Director: Richard Martin
It was decided back in December 1964, due to the unavailability of certain technical equipment, that this episode would record later in the evening - between 9 - 10.15pm.
Things got off to a bad start when parts of the Vortis and TARDIS sets had not been delivered to the studio. The floor of the Zarbi control chamber had not been painted. In the afternoon there were problems with the lighting, which led to a loss of 40 minutes rehearsal time.
Once recording got underway, a camera broke down and there was an 18 minute break which disturbed the concentration of the cast.
A well-known fluff from this episode saw a Zarbi, pursuing Ian through the Carzenome, collide very noticeably with a camera.
The Animus' weapon - known as a spine gun in the script - was operated simply by having a crew member insert their arm from behind the set into a long glove attached to the wall.
Roslyn De Winter's flight was supposed to have been pre-filmed at Ealing, but this footage was not used - possibly due to the costume adaptations - and so she had to perform the action in studio using a Kirby flying harness.
Recording did not finish until 10.52pm, by which time it was too late for the cast to have their regular late drink at the pub across the road from the studios (known as "Studio 3" - see below). The lights throughout the building had already been switched off, and the cast had to negotiate their way outside in the dark.
The lair of the Animus is called the Carzenome - from 'carcinoma', a cancer. This signals the malign presence of the creature on this planet, destroying the natural order of things and turning parts of it against the rest.
"Animus" can mean hostility or ill-will, as in animosity. Psychologist Carl Jung defined 'animus' as the unconscious masculine side of females (and 'anima' as the unconscious feminine side of males).
"Anima" is also the Latin word for the soul - as in the animating spirit. It used to be believed that all living creatures had varying amounts of anima, which could not be destroyed. Instead it transformed into other life. A decaying corpse produced maggots and flies and this was seen as anima in action.
On the Monday following broadcast of Escape to Danger it was announced that Verity Lambert would be leaving the series, to become producer on a new soap called 199 Park Lane. This had replaced the fashion magazine soap Compact. In the end, this transfer did not take place. Morris Barry (future director - and supporting actor - on Doctor Who) took on the role instead. The series failed to take off.
Another change at the BBC saw the arrival of Huw Weldon to replace Donald Baverstock as Controller of BBC 1. The latter had never been a friend of the series. He quit after being asked to take over BBC 2, which he saw as a demotion. Weldon was a big fan of Doctor Who - especially the Daleks.
(Baverstock went on to help set up Yorkshire Television, and one of his projects was the successful soap Emmerdale Farm
, later just Emmerdale
, which has been home to companions such as Frazer Hines, Louise Jameson, Richard Franklin, and Jenna Coleman).
Barbara does not feature in this episode, as Jacqueline Hill was on holiday the week that it was rehearsed and recorded. This led to a formal complaint from Hill as she did not receive a credit on the episode. During the first season, whenever any of the regulars took a week or two's break, they continued to be credited on the episode(s) even when they did not feature. She expected the matter to be resolved with a credit reinstated for overseas sales of this episode, but this failed to happen.
As Barbara was carrying the Menoptra side of the story they are all absent save for De Winter's Vrestin, who allies with Ian - whom she calls "Heron" - for the remainder of the tale.
- The viewing and appreciation figures remain healthy - in fact unchanged since the previous week.
- Later on the evening of Saturday 27th February, Bernard Cribbins appeared as the Doctor in a sketch in his own show. Little would he have known that his very last job would have been an appearance on Doctor Who some 58 years later, after being a regular on the series as well as appearing in a Dalek movie.
- The following weekend, the pop magazine Fabulous featured a photo-story in which Screaming Lord Such played "Dr What", fighting the Daleks.
- It was just before recording of this episode that Radio Times filmed the trailer which Richard Martin objected to so much. Part of it featured Zarbi arriving at the BBC studios for work and being shown to their dressing rooms.
- Should you wish to follow in the footsteps of Hartnell and company, "Studio 3" still exists. It is a mock-Tudor pub called "The Chancellors", at 25 Crisp Road, Hammersmith, W6 9RL. Reviews on Facebook and Trip Advisor are very good.
- The Web Planet was one of the stories which was recreated for the 50th Anniversary drama An Adventure in Space and Time. Writer Mark Gatiss' husband Ian Hallard played director Richard Martin (centre below).