Reimagining Doctor Who

The Planet of Giants 

Episode notes

1964, London.  We need more jeopardy through the pacing and visuals than we get in the original version of this story; the garden insects and creatures should be terrifying, and the scale of objects when miniaturised proving almost insurmountable, Barbara clearly dying and so being caught in a race against time while later Ian is accidentally taken inside, during which time he learns the truth about DN6 and witnessing Forrester’s murder of Farrow, before the blowing up of the house and the cure of Barbara through returning to normal size.

This is Ian’s story. As an ‘action man’ and a man of science, he is – in a way – both St George and St Jerome. it is perhaps more explicitly an environmental story than even the previous one.  The story is firmly rooted in the post-WWII mass agricultural industry and its reliance on pesticides, with the tension resting between feeding entire populations and the harmful nature of certain chemicals in pesticides (including, most infamously, DDT).

To maintain the focus solely on its DDT equivalent, DN6, would be to limit the relevance of this story to a bygone era from which Ian and Barbara originate, however, so we would need to add further layers for this story to land for a modern audience. Most obviously, there is the route of environmental pollution, which is largely ignored in the original, instead focussing on the deadly impact DN6 would have on living matter, including and especially humans.  What if, instead, the DN6 formula was to have equally a profound impact on the entire global ecology? What if it could kill every living organism – animal, vegetable, and even mineral, such that the nutrients in the soil would be destroyed, the skies become polluted with a noxious by-product, and the seas become acid… (Perhaps we can even link it to the (contagious?) gas poison from “The Curse of Fenric”, such that Forester has lazily copied strictly classified notes towards research from WWII in formulating DN6?)

Ian’s role is then as an informed and intelligent scientist who solves the mystery and provides the solution, while also acting as an action hero in the shrunken dimension against domestic horrors.  Barbara’s heroic refusal to admit that she is contaminated is something that must be maintained, and the peril it poses to her once revealed drives Ian on (further impelling us to believe in their romance that will follow), while the Doctor and Susan are in the background of this story with their own subplot, involving re-interpolating the dimensions through the TARDIS (where it is revealed that the TARDIS has been in this small size since it came under the influence of the Animus).

Cold Open

The TARDIS arrives in an English country garden. When the travellers emerge, they find themselves besieged by ants (appearing as though the Earth has been invaded by the Zarbi) – before the camera pulls back and we see that they and the TARDIS have been shrunken in size.

Act One


The country cottage and its surrounding garden are actually the site of a government thinktank. In the ‘backyard shed’ laboratory adjoining the garden, Professor Farrow is sat at a microscope examining a slide. He is working on developing a pesticide, DN6, and is discussing the progress of his report with his director, Forester. It is clear that Forester is pressuring Farrow on fast-tracking a positive set of results, before Forester leaves for London, where he will be meeting with the board of directors – including the Minister – in the morning to discuss approval for the widescale manufacture and distribution of DN6. Farrow is left at the laboratory to complete his work. He is accompanied by his pet dog, George, who calls for Farrow to play with him in the garden outside.

Rushing into the yard, George runs straight for the travellers having sniffed them out. Seeing this, Barbara and Ian run for protection into the thick of the garden while the Doctor and Susan rush back into the TARDIS. George seizes the TARDIS in his mouth, unseen by Farrow, and after a few moments, Farrow returns to his work inside.

Ian and Barbara emerge from their cover, realising that they must traverse the garden to reunite with the Doctor, Susan, and the TARDIS.

The Doctor and Susan, meanwhile, are deposited in the TARDIS on a laboratory bench tabletop after Farrow fishes the ‘toy’ out of George’s mouth so that he doesn’t swallow and choke on it and places it out of reach of his dog. George is saddened, having clearly smelled and seen the Doctor and Susan and knowing that there are humans with whom he wants to play inside the little blue box.


Barbara and Ian begin their journey through the garden, encountering all manner of domestic horrors including worms, flies, spiders, wasps, crickets, cockroaches, and, most dangerously of all, magpies that swoop from above.

The Doctor and Susan, meanwhile, have used the fault locator to identify that they were shrunken before they even landed on Vortis when the Animus exerted its influence over the craft. They must now work on the calculations that will return the ship to its normal size.

Farrow returns to his work and, after some time examining the slides, becomes alarmed when he discovers something terribly amiss with his slide samples.

Barbara and Ian progress through a barren patch of earth filled with dead plants and animals. Ian surmises that the area must recently have been sprayed with an insecticide, and warns Barbara not to touch anything; however, the warning comes too late, as Barbara – unseen by Ian – has already run her hands over a decaying flower petal. She asks Ian for his pocket handkerchief and begins to frantically wipe her hands with it.

Farrow has telephoned through to his director, Forester, and tells him what he has discovered; that DN6 is poisonous to all life forms, and that it kills every plant and animal cell and even contaminates mineral matter with its toxin. DN6 cannot be distributed. Forester tells Farrow to do and say nothing and to wait for his arrival. The Doctor and Susan overhear the conversation through the Space/Time Visualiser in the TARDIS.

Turning Point

We cut to the other end of the line, and see Forester in his study. He informs his secretary that he won’t be needing her for the rest of the evening. After she leaves, he goes to a safe and draws out a gun and a cache of bullets, loading it into the gun and cocking it in readiness.

Act Two

Rising action

The Doctor and Susan have found a way to resolve the issue of their shrunken status; however, it will mean that they will need to dematerialise back into the Space/Time Vortex before readjusting the dimensional stabilisers upon rematerialisation. After overhearing the telephone conversation between Farrow and Forester, they resolve to find Ian and Barbara outside in the garden, having first to navigate their way safely beyond the DN6 material on the benchtop, then out of the laboratory, and finally passed George the Labrador. They emerge from the safety of the TARDIS to begin their journey outside.

Forester speeds to the government thinktank location, arriving late at night. In his rush, he knocks a policeman off his bike. In the darkness, the officer is unable to catch the number plate but is able to see the make, model, and colour of the car before phoning in an APB (all-points bulletin) for the driver when calling for assistance.

Ian and Barbara locate an entrance to the laboratory via a drain pipe. Night has by now fallen, and they begin to scale their ascent. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Susan find the sink that is at the other end of the drain, and as they talk in the echoing bowl of the sink their voices can be heard down the drain pipe by Ian and Barbara. Ian and the Doctor agree that they will wait for Ian and Barbara to arrive before they depart in the TARDIS. The Doctor incidentally tells them to be careful of any insecticide, to which Ian says that they found the same in a barren patch in the garden.

Crisis point

At that point, Forester and Farrow enter the laboratory and begin to argue. As they do so, the Doctor and Susan run for cover on the laboratory bench table top while Ian and Barbara continue with their climb up the drain.

Things become heated between Forester and Farrow, with Forester refusing to hear Farrow’s argument as it would mean the ruining of his life’s work and expose criminal negligence. Forester cannot placate Farrow, who now insists that he will go over Forester’s head to the board.

Forester pulls the gun on Farrow, but Farrow overpowers him and knocks the gun to the floor, letting it off in the process. Forester reached for a DN6 canister and forces some of the pesticide into his eyes and mouth, killing him, while George barks madly outside before he runs off. Struggling for breath, Forester extricates himself from the dying grip of Farrow before going to the sink to wash his hands.

The Doctor and Susan cry out to Ian and Barbara, but it appears too late.

Act Three


Ian and Barbara narrowly avoid being swept to their deaths by narrowly clambering into the overflow just in time. They emerge as Forester drags Farrow’s body away, and it becomes clear that Barbara has been exposed to DN6. The travellers now face three problems; how to save Barbara, themselves, and everyone else exposed to DN6; how to prevent DN6 from being distributed; and how to bring Forester to justice.


Ian carries Barbara into the TARDIS and begins to work on identifying how to break down the chemical compound of DN6 using the analysing computer in the TARDIS’ own laboratory (which we saw in Flight Through Eternity).

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Susan attempt to call for the police but their voices are inaudible over the telephone. Instead, the Doctor plans to blow up the laboratory and all of the DN6 cannisters by torching the laboratory’s gas tap.

Ian is able to develop an antidote and cure Barbara, and transmits the schematic of the solution (as well as an account of what has happened here, including the murder of Farrow by Forester) to the Royal Institution of Science, of which he is a member, using the telephone line from the laboratory and a fax signal he codes from within the TARDIS. The Doctor and Susan enter into the TARDIS just in time as the laboratory is about to explode, the Doctor carrying wrapped in his cape a single wheat seed.

All of the Animus’ victims recover quickly. Susan is near tears as she realises the evil creature is now dead. Even the Doctor begins to stir. They have won.


George and then the following explosion have alerted the police and fire brigade. Meanwhile, Forester is pulled over by two police officers who recognise his car as being the one that previously knocked a fellow officer from his bike from the APB. They discover the body of Farrow in the boot.

With everyone safe and the TARDIS in flight through Space-Time Vortex, the Doctor returns them to their normal size (as confirmed by the shrinking of the wheat seed he carried on board the TARDIS from one of the samples on Farrow’s laboratory desk) at the moment of their next materialisation, which appears to be inside of a treasure-filled tomb.

Remember to share your thoughts in the comments section below, please.

(Available 23 July 2023)


(Previous episode: The Web Planet)

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