Yasmin’s grandmother has a hidden past and is reluctant to tell anyone her secrets. Out of curiosity, Yaz turns to the Doctor and asks to take her, Ryan and Graham back in time to find out about her Nani Umbreen’s history.
Except the Doctor and her team find themselves in hot water when they arrive in 1947, right in the middle of the partition of India, and there are demons haunting the land. Can the Doctor and her friends survive this dangerous time period and work out who these demons are and what they want?
We’re now in the second half of series 11 and it’s been a pretty strong series, but last week’s episode – ‘The Tsuranga Conundrum’ – was pretty meh. So does ‘Demons of the Punjab’ put the series back on track?
Simple answer = ABSOLUTELY!!!
This was a beautifully told story that had me in tears when the credits rolled. It’s gonna be difficult to review the strengths of this episode as it relies a lot on the shocks and unexpected moments of emotional horror. But let’s give it a go…
This episode was written by Vinay Patel who wrote the BBC Three film ‘Murdered by my Father’ and he brings ‘Doctor Who’ an emotionally charged episode that is rich in setting, storytelling and complex characters and aliens.
The writing is full of heart and it is a lot of fun. What Vinay excelled at here for me was using the time travel aspect of the series and showing how painful the experience of travelling in a time machine can be, as there will be times where you can’t interfere too much, sometimes you have to just step back and let horrible events take place. This episode isn’t just brilliant storytelling, it’s brilliant Sci-Fi!
And the idea behind the ‘demons’ was really good. I loved how the writing made me think of them one way, but then at the halfway point things take a turn and we discover some new layers to these aliens which I thought was a pretty smart idea.
The characters carry the weight of the story and the actors did a terrific job at bringing them to life.
Jodie Whittaker continues to be a thrilling presence on-screen, I just adore her quirks and the energy that she brings to the Doctor, and there is a lovely speech about love which Jodie delivers fantastically.
‘Demons of the Punjab’ was Yasmin’s episode and Mandip Gill is brilliant. She totally nails every scene she’s in. I love the challenges she faces as she steps into her family’s history which gives us some wonderful scenes. This is easily Mandip’s best performance of the series so far.
Bradley Walsh is, as always, marvellous. I love how Graham comforts Yasmin in one moment, acting like a grandfather figure to her, which is kind of what I predicted in episode one, that Graham would be like the Granddad of ‘Team TARDIS’, keeping them all in check and comforting them when they need it. I just love Bradley Walsh!
And Tosin Cole is still great as ever. He does take more of a back seat in this episode, but that’s not a bad thing, because the character of Ryan has had such a journey over the past few episodes, so it feels nice that he’s just helping the Doctor out with the ‘demons’, allowing us to spend more time with Yasmin. Ryan does get a funny line though which had me chuckling, Tosin delivered that perfectly.
The guest stars of ‘Demons of the Punjab’ were all phenomenal! Amita Suman plays Umbreen – Yaz’s young grandmother – and she gives a stunning performance and works well with the other actors. I also loved Leena Dhingra as older Umbreen, who delivers some pretty funny lines.
We also have Hamza Jeetooa bringing great layers to his role as Manish.
But the star of the guest cast for me was Shane Zaza as Prem, he just shone in every moment, particularly in the episodes final moments.
Jamie Childs returns as director after penning the series debut – ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’ – and once again he gives us an episode that was just glorious for my eyes to watch.
The ‘Doctor Who’ team made a smart move in going to Spain to film the story. The locations were used really well to double as India 1947. The costumes looked beautiful, the sets were a fantastic design – particularly the alien spaceship. The design of the aliens was brilliant and I loved the sound design in their voices. And Segun Akinola’s music was stunning and served the episode well.
‘Demons of the Punjab’ was a powerful story about love, and it did a great job at presenting themes of loss, grief and sorrow. This was just beautiful ‘Doctor Who’. Not only that… it was beautiful T.V.
‘DOCTOR WHO: Demons of the Punjab’ result = 10/10