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Category:    Home > Reviews > Spy > Action > Adventure > Espionage > Mystery > Comedy > British TV > Spyder’s Web – The Complete Series (1972/Network U.K. Region 2/R2/Import DVD Set)

Spyder’s Web – The Complete Series (1972/Network U.K. Region 2/R2/Import DVD Set)


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: C+     Episodes: B-



PLEASE NOTE: This DVD set is only available in the U.K. from our friends at Network U.K. and can be ordered from them at the website address links provided below at the end of the review or at finer retailers.  This is a Region Two/2 DVD set, so you must have a machine that can handle that format.



At the end of the British TV spy cycle, The Avengers and the successes that followed were starting to go into syndication and still, various series were trying to imitate its style and success.  So many in fact that many have not been seen in years and others never really made it outside of the U.K., including an interesting attempt called Spyder’s Web, an ATV-produced series first broadcast in early 1972.


Anthony Ainley (The Master on Doctor Who in the 1980s, other spy related appearances on The Avengers, Department S, The Champions, The Adventurer, You Only Live Twice) plays spy Clive Hawksworth, a former military man good at handling a gun as well as he handles an assignment, ready to join the Spyder Organization.  At first, he is uncertain as to what is going on, even when he meets Lotte (Charlotte) Dean (Patricia Cutts (spy related appearances on T.H.E. Cat and North By Northwest) doing more than a little channeling of Honor Blackman as Ms. Catherine Gale from The Avengers) who is an award-winning documentary filmmaker for Arachnid Films and turns out to be the head of the organization as well.  The witty duo is set.


Also working with them, though in the clouds about all that is really going on are the sexy secretary Wallis (Veronica Carlson (Old Drac (aka Old Dracula), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Horror Of Frankenstein, Dracula Has Risen From The Grave, spy related appearances on Department S, The Saint) looking very sexy) and cameraman Albert (Roger Lloyd-Pack, whose spy related appearances on The Avengers, The Protectors, Jason King) round out the crew at the office which serves as a cover as it would on The Adventurer and U.F.O., both ITC shows.


Among the qualities in this variant is an attempt to add Noir elements to the genre much the way The Corridor People (reviewed elsewhere on this site) tried, but ended earlier before getting into the kind of trouble this series does.  Unlike older shows, the various guest stars had showed up in spy shows, but from rival companies which was not the case for earlier shows, but the cycle was coming to an end and Associated British was gone by this time.  Note the ITC spy memorabilia in the Arachnid office.  Episodes include the shows the guests appeared on before and after, all of which you can find elsewhere on this site:


1) Spyder Secures A Main Strand (January 21, 1972) with guest stars John Savident (The Avengers, Man In A Suitcase, The Saint, Department S, The Adventurer) as Chief.


2) The Executioners (January 28, 1972) with guest stars André Morell (the original Quatermass, The Avengers, Secret Agent, The Saint, The Adventurer).


3) Romance on Wheels (February 4, 1972) with guest stars John Cazabon (The Avengers, The Prisoner, Adam Adamant Lives!, The Saint, The Baron, Secret Agent, Department S, Jason King, The Protectors), Helen Lindsay (Strange Report) and Derek Ware (Adam Adamant Lives!).


4) The Hazif Affair (February 11, 1972) with guest stars Earl Cameron (The Prisoner, Secret Agent, Thunderball) and Horace James (Adam Adamant Lives!, Man In A Suitcase, Espionage).


5) Life At A Price (February 18, 1972) with guest stars Michael Mellinger (The Avengers, The Saint, Department S, Goldfinger), Harold Kasket (The Avengers, The Saint, Secret Agent, Department S, Jason King) and Julia McCartney (Callan).


6) Emergency Exit (February 25, 1972) with guest stars Jon Laurimore (The Avengers, The Prisoner, Callan, Gazette, Hadleigh), Barry Lineham (The Avengers, The Saint, Adam Adamant Lives!), Kenneth Griffith (The Prisoner, Secret Agent, Callan, Strange Report) and Donald Webster (The Avengers, The Baron, The Protectors, The Corridor People, Callan).


7) Red Admiral (March 3, 1972) with guest stars John Barron (The Avengers, The Saint, Department S, The Protectors) and Gordon Whiting (The Avengers, The Saint, Secret Agent).


8) Ladies & Dolls (March 10, 1972) with guest stars Mark Eden (The Prisoner, The Sandbaggers, The Avengers, The Saint) and David Nettheim (The Prisoner, The Avengers, The Saint, The Baron, Man In A Suitcase).


9) Things That Go Bang In The Night (March 17, 1972) with guest stars Joe Ritchie (The Avengers, The Baron) and Nicholas Smith (The Avengers, The Saint).


10) An Almost Modest Man (March 24, 1972) with guest stars Peter Birrel (Adam Adamant Lives!, The Saint, Man In A Suitcase, The Adventurer), Edwin Brown (The Sandbaggers, The Baron, The Saint, Strange Report) and Mike Pratt (The Saint, The Baron, Secret Agent, Man In A Suitcase, Callan, Jason King, U.F.O.)


11) Nobody's Strawberry Fool (March 31, 1972) with guest stars John Savident as Chief, Allan Cuthbertson (The Avengers, The Saint, Man In A Suitcase, Callan, The Persuaders!, Jason King) and Charles Lamb (The Avengers).


12) The Prevalence Of Skeletons (April 7, 1972) with guest stars Ferdy Mayne (The Avengers, The Saint, Secret Agent, The Sentimental Agent, Man In A Suitcase, The Persuaders!, The New Avengers), John Moreno (The Persuaders!, Return Of The Saint) and Frederick Peisley (The Avengers, Secret Agent).


13) Rev Counter (April 14, 1972) with guest stars Joe Gladwin (The Prisoner), Paul Haley (The Sandbaggers), Steve Peters (Adam Adamant Lives!), Kenneth J. Warren (The Avengers, Adam Adamant Lives!, The Baron, The Saint, The Persuaders!) and Lloyd Lamble (The Avengers, The Prisoner).



The show was created by Writer Richard Harris (The Avengers, The Saint, Adam Adamant Lives!, co-creator of Man In A Suitcase) and also included the talents of Malcolm Hulke (the shows Script Supervisor who had previously worked on The Avengers, Secret Agent), Alfred Shaughnessy (The Saint, Hadleigh, The Informer) and Roy Clarke (The Power Game, Open All Hours), the latter of which is much more known as a comedy writer than anything else, but some of his work here is actually not bad.  Unfortunately, the shows would not be as consistent as a show like this needed to be and it never found a direction or a distinction to be a success.


The first three shows are fine and make the series promising, then Episodes 4 & 5 drop the ball.  Episode 6 (Emergency Exit) gets the show back on track and is the way the show should have continued.  However, the plots that followed ranged from dull to mixed with only a few more really good shows to follow.  Part of the problem is a less-exciting, less-eccentric, more obvious version of Britishness that broke little new ground and the density of the show was not enough to work either.


Cutts and Ainley are definitely well-matched in the “can stand their won ground” way and there is some odd chemistry there, though like Adam Adamant Lives! is not totally realized thanks to the inconsistent teleplays, including by some writers I had never heard of and did not get how a show like this worked.  Carlson and Lloyd-Pack are good in supporting roles too, with an attempt to pair them later having some potential results that are not realized.


I did appreciate how smart the show was and witty it tried to be, succeeding more often than not, even in shows that did not always work.  It is an ambitious show just the same and definitely deserves to be on DVD after all these years.  Fans of the spy genre will want to see it and most will not be disappointed as long as they know the series has its share of peaks and valleys.  Spyder’s Web is also fun.



The show was originally produced in full color, with the indoor shots taped on professional PAL video and outdoor work on 16mm film, but most episodes have been lost in their original color form, leaving only two shows in color.  That is sad, but at least they survive somehow.  The 1.33 X 1 image is second-generation in almost all cases, but the few color shows do look really good and it is a shame the whole show did not survive this way because this is a decent-looking show.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also second-generation, but can have some nice moments of clarity for its age.  However, other audio is distorted and I wished for closed captioning at a few points.


Extras include stills for every single episode on their respective discs (this is a 4 DVD set) and DVD 2 adds stills of Stanley Mills’ Production Design for the show.  Trevor Patterson also did that kind of work on the show.



As noted above, you can order this DVD set import exclusively from Network U.K. at:









-   Nicholas Sheffo


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