Spyder's Web is a British intelligence department.
Exactly who or what this Web is or who Spyder is per se remains a mystery for most of the first recorded adventure and along the way there is a lot of confusion and misdirection. I know this because, having watched the episode, I was confused a bunch. And from what I have read about the subsequent adventures, it does not look like it changes much in that matter.
Our introduction to Web comes in a rather roundabout manner. First we are shown what looks like a defection in likely Germany with an agent waiting for the arrival of a running man chased by two soldiers. We will learn later that his code number is #6 but we are told that after watching the 'defector' reach the agent, pull out a gun, and shooting the unsuspecting agent. The two soldiers then toss the body in the trunk of the agent's car.
At that point we switch to a much harried balding man leaving the offices of Ely House Expertease Ltd and heading home to a pregnant woman we take for his wife. During some banter, we learn that Expertease is a cover for a British intelligence agency, he is the Chief forced to not only run the real espionage work but also make sure Expertease is turning a profit, and the woman was an operative willing to give her all for her country (quite often, according to him).
The Chief tells her that as a result of the killing, he has recalled the other agents in the 'German Section' for regrouping. The three agents in that group are #1, #2, and 'Hawksworth'. When the wife points out that no one ever refers to Hawksworth by his number, the Chief observes, "You know Hawksworth. He never does fit in."
In this way we get a brief introduction to Clive Hawksworth, ladies' man and highly independent-minded operative who will play a major role in the adventures we have of Spyders' Web. Upon his arrival at Expertease's headquarters and being told of #6's demise, he advocates taking out a Russian and an East German agent for revenge and if it should turn out that someone else was responsible, "we could always apologize". The Chief admonishes him for being always so "unsubtle".
It is at this point that Hawksworth is told he is being transferred. While the Chief has not been told to where, he hopes it is with someone ready to cope with Hawksworth's "flamboyant ways". And it is here we are introduced to some interesting standard spycraft with a coded message needing decyphering by Hawksworth saying 'Spyder will contact', a package decorated with a shadow drawing of a spider left in his vehicle containing a locker key, a briefcase inside said locker, and so on. The briefcase will contain a small number of 35mm slides which he takes back to his house to study.
Hawksworth is told via the slides that Exportese's security has been blown and all recent defectors are being targeted. A mole is causing the trouble and is either the Chief or #1 or #2. It is Hawksworth's job to find out which and to help in that matter he is to use a woman named Charlotte 'Lotti' Dean.
I mention all the above because after this events happen, things start to get a bit muddled.
We learn Dean is the owner of the Arachnid Documentary Films Ltd. It is a small documentary film company with a small reputation lending it some credibility and believability. She is, from what I gather, the only one of the people in the firm to know that it is a cover.
When Hawksworth meets Dean, it is clear to both that he is in charge yet it is also clear that she is in charge of Arachnid. However, soon after the meeting, Hawksworth goes to a church and enters a confessional booth and asks strongly to meet with Spyder. The voice on the other side of the partition admonishes him, telling him that Spyder alone decides who meets with Spyder and secrecy exists for a reason. It is then that Hawksworth complains about Dean being an amateur with no experience (how does he know?) and can he treat her as expendible and use her as bait? Also, Hawksworth is concerned about getting paid for his expenses - petrol is bloody expensive, you know!
It is the end of the first adventure that we learn the truth. Lottie Dean is Spyder. She is the one in charge and for the first time in her career in the cloak and dagger business, she has a Number Two to help out. Hawksworth is that person. Together they will handle missions too sensitive for the other departments or too beyond their abilities.
Dean smokes cheroots, saying she is trying to quit cigarettes. She is a blonde in her early 40's with a wicked and quick sense of humor and a sharp tongue which she has no qualms about using. She can be brash when it is called for and it seems to be called for a lot.
Hawksworth is a handsome man with a square jutting jaw and a penchant for puffing intensely on his pipe which he is more likely to be seen with than without. As indicated above, he is prone to choosing violence as a solution since it seems to answer a lot of problems. He definitely adores the opposite sex but seems constantly suspicious they are out to ensnare him into matrimony and monogamy.
It is an odd pair.
- Hawksworth's lament about relationships with the opposite sex, "I never know what to do with them in the mornings. They're so much less exhilarating sitting there across the corn flakes."
- From Dean/Spyder, "We exist because no one outside knows we exist."