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Demons of the Punjab was the sixth episode of series 11 of Doctor Who.

The episode further expanded on Yasmin Khan's family and heritage, exploring her grandmother Umbreen's personal history in India during its partition in 1947.

This episode reintroduces the theme of the Doctor being mistaken about the intentions of aliens involved with death. Much like Twice Upon a Time, the Thirteenth Doctor believed the aliens intended to kill, but were in fact non-hostile. The Thijarians were not killing, but instead bearing witness.

This episode also had the Doctor explain more about the specific details of how the telepathic circuits worked.

In April 2019, Demons of the Punjab was nominated for a Hugo Award for "Best Dramatic Presentation - Short Form."[1] Writer Vinay Patel won "Best Scriptwriter" at the Eastern Eye Arts, Theater, and Culture Awards in 2019.[2]


With Yaz desperate to learn more about the life of her grandmother, the Thirteenth Doctor brings her friends to the Punjab in 1947 to meet her in the past. But with a marriage unknown to Yaz on the cards and the Partition of India threatening to pull her family apart, it may not be the mysterious "demons" that are the biggest threat.


Yasmin Khan is in her family's flat with her family, celebrating her Nani Umbreen's birthday. Umbreen provides each of her granddaughters with a gift. To Sonya, she gives a photo of herself and their grandfather. To Yasmin she gives a broken watch, warning her never to fix it but refuses to reveal why. Yaz gets a desire to travel back in time to see her family.

In the TARDIS, the Thirteenth Doctor is doing maintenance on the controls; she tells Yaz that she will not take her back in time to see her grandmother, as it risks wiping herself out of existence. Graham laughs that it's not like they take risks. The Doctor tells him in an annoyed tone that she has apologized repeatedly for the incident involving the Death Eye Turtle Army. Yaz begs the Doctor as she wants to go see what her grandmother was like in her younger days. The Doctor asks if Yaz has a time or place; Yaz tells her that Umbreen was in the Pakistani city of Lahore in the 1950s.

Despite trying to talk herself out of it once more, the Doctor relents and takes the watch from Yaz; she's attaching it to the telepathic circuits, allowing them to find the moment that it broke in Umbreen's timeline. Graham wonders how the TARDIS can be telepathic; the Doctor says that 'telepathic" is short-hand for a very complicated procedure, which is locating where anything has existed throughout the entirety of space-time. Graham seems to have understood and thanks the Doctor for explaining it clearly.

The TARDIS arrives in the Punjabi countryside instead of Lahore, confusing Yaz, Ryan and Graham. The Doctor takes out her sonic screwdriver and starts to get TARDIS readings from all around the area. Suddenly, they are struck by some sort of vision of dark figures and stumble into a road. There they meet Prem, who is driving an ox-pulled cart. They claim to be family friends and get a ride to see Umbreen.

In the forest, they track the "demons" to a ship of some kind, the "demon's lair". The Doctor can't get any readings. Eventually, she acquires species data, and Bio-ID. The ship is a Thijarian Hive and the Thijarians are assassins, their target is a sadhu, Hindu holy man known as Bhakti. Prem claims to have seen them before, standing over the body of his older brother, Kunal while serving in the Second World War. Then the Thijarians appear and they are forced to evacuate the hive. Out in the forest, Ryan and Prem are transported away and the Doctor notices a device on a tree nearby, a transmat lock, and confiscates it.

Ryan and Prem appear some distance away and Prem asks what happened. Ryan says he does not know, but the Doctor said to get out of the forest so they both run. The Doctor continues to find more locks. Back at the farm, Umbreen continues to argue in favour of her marriage.

Yaz becomes discouraged when she believes she doesn't truly know her Nani, and Graham comforts her. Suddenly, they hear Ryan yelling and rush to discover what is wrong. The Doctor arrives shortly after and tells them to run for the barn. Inside the barn, the Thijarians arrive and threaten everyone there with death, but the Doctor drives them away with the locks. She promises to protect them all. Then the Doctor requests oil, tree bark, saucepans, 9 containers, ox spit, a biscuit, and a chicken poo. She uses them to make "demon repellent".

Umbreen speaks with the Doctor, Yaz and Umbreen's mum sit and speak together. Umbreen says she'll go through with the wedding, and her mother adamantly protests. They need someone respectable to officiate. Remembering the Doctor, Umbreen asks her to officiate the wedding, as a doctor is a respectable position. The Doctor agrees, claiming she hadn't officiated a wedding since Einstein's, which his parents disapproved and that the wedding was non-denominational. Elsewhere, Ryan, Graham, Prem, and Manish are playing cards. Manish appears to be winning. He argues with his brother, asking Prem not to go through with the wedding.

In the barn, the Doctor is studying some material recovered from the hive and notes it is some of the densest organic material she has ever seen, and it contains carbon, phosphorus, oxygen and sulfur, creating billions of DNA fragments. Suddenly she is transmatted away to the Hive. There she learns that the Thijarian world was destroyed in the assassin's absence. They claim to have become witnesses and spent 100 generations honouring their lost world. Now they travel to witness and honour those left dead, unseen and unknown, in the wake of the Partition. Now they come to honour Prem. She asks to see how the holy man died, and they show her.

The Doctor returns to reveal that Prem must die today and that the Thijarians are not actually assassins but merely observers to those who are killed. She warns that they cannot interfere, or Umbreen will never become Yaz's Nani.

In the morning, Ryan and Graham help Prem prepare for his wedding day. He mourns that so many around him seem to have lost their minds. Muslims, Hindu and Sikhs, who lived together for decades are now in a frenzy, convinced their differences are more important than what unites them. Graham comforts him, saying the best they can be is good men.

The Doctor officiates the wedding by a small stream, at the border of India and Pakistan. Using her sonic screwdriver she removes the rope border markers Manish had placed up earlier. She admires the certainty of Prem and Umbreen, the certainty of love. She says right now, they are the strongest people on the planet, maybe even the universe. She then admits she doesn't know how to formalise the ceremony. Umbreen says she does, and picks up one of Manish's boundary ropes and asks Yaz to tie their hands.

Later, inside the barn, Umbreen offers Manish reconciliation, and Manish coldly casts her and his own brother aside. After that, Prem offers Umbreen his watch but drops it on the ground, where it breaks. Umbreen's mother says the day is truly cursed, but Umbreen says it is instead perfect, and that the watch is theirs forever, their own moment in time.

Manish leaves to find his brother's rifle and the Doctor follows him. He then points the rifle at the Doctor and warns her to take her friends and leave if they want to get out alive. The Doctor realises he has betrayed his whole family as well as murdering the holy man. Men on horseback are charging down the road to take their land. The Doctor warns Prem and Umbreen to run. Prem tells Umbreen to go to the house and take anything essential.

In the house, Yaz finds a map of the Earth, with Sheffield marked on it. Umbreen says she just pointed to a map and that was where her finger landed, and so that is where she will go one day.

In the barn, Prem offers to stay behind and distract the groups of thugs and tells them all to go ahead, across the border into the forest, and kisses Umbreen goodbye. He tells the Doctor to go as well, claiming he must face these demons alone. He confronts his brother and the thugs. He recognises a man named Kanon, a soldier he fought with during the war only to now see his former ally is prepared to shoot him. Nothing he says changes their minds, however, and Kanon shoots Prem, killing him. The Thijarians stand vigil, honouring Prem, as everyone flees.

Back on the TARDIS, Yaz worries if Umbreen managed to escape; if Umbreen died then, Yaz will fade away. The Doctor tells a stunned Yaz that her grandmother made it out alive, and will eventually end up in Sheffield.

At Flat 27, Yaz speaks with her Nani. Umbreen notices the design on Yaz's hands, saying it isn't much good but asks if the wedding was at least any good. Yaz affirms, her Nani not knowing it was her wedding she had seen. Yaz asks her if she is happy with how her life turned out. She says she is happy with it because it gave her Yaz, Yaz's mum and sister and offers to tell her the story about the watch if she really wants to know. Yaz says she no longer wants to know about the watch and tells her Nani she loves her.


Uncredited cast[]

  • Bhakti, Hindu holy man - Bikramjit Gurm[3][4]


General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics


General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.


The Doctor[]

  • The Doctor awards Ryan a gold star but quickly remembers she forgot about points.
  • While participating in the pre-wedding celebrations, the Doctor muses that she never used to do this kind of thing when she was a man, a reference to her previous thirteen male incarnations.
  • The Doctor can officiate weddings, having previously officiated Albert Einstein's.


  • The Doctor mentions the TARDIS' telepathic circuits and says that any object amasses all sorts of fragmentary spatio-temporal particles through its life and the TARDIS can read it like date stamps.


  • The people of Punjab speak Punjabi.
  • A Hindu wedding custom is to have the couples hands tied together during their vows.
  • A Muslim wedding custom is for the groom to give a prized possession to the bride, a so-called mahr.
  • Henna is body art used to celebrate weddings in the Punjab. They are mehndi sun patterns.
  • Umbreen says doctor is respectable.
  • The men are playing cards.
  • Prem mentions how Muslim, Hindu and Sikh used to live together.
  • Hasna calls Umbreen bheti. She in turn uses the same term talking to Yasmin.



Food and beverages[]



  • Umbreen has been conditioned to a wheelchair in her older days.
  • Prem drives an ox cart and the Doctor requests ox spit.





Story notes[]


Doctor Who Theme (Demons of the Punjab) Doctor Who Series 11

A special arrangement of the Doctor Who theme for this episode.

  • For the second time this series, the usual Doctor Who theme does not play over the ending credits. In contrast to Rosa, this episode plays an Indian music inspired version of the theme with Shahid Abbas Khan, who sang throughout the score, vocally performed the melody for this arrangement.
  • This is the first episode of Series 11 that isn't written or co-written by Chris Chibnall.
  • This episode was broadcast on Remembrance Sunday and the centenary of the armistice that ended the First World War. As such it focuses on themes of remembrance.[5]
  • This is the second episode of Series 11 in which the title may be considered to have a double meaning, following The Woman Who Fell to Earth. In this case, "Demons" may refer to the Thijarians or the Hindu thugs who kill Prem, as he refers to them as demons.
  • This episode marks the first time the six crystals around the TARDIS console are shown moving while in-flight. The tips of the six crystals move in rhythm with sinking and rising of the crystal pillar in the console, seemingly "pulling" the pillar up, giving a more "organic" feel to the control room. While in this episode we only glimpse one of the crystals moving in the blurred-out background as the Doctor is talking to Yaz, we see the crystals moving properly in Kerblam!.
  • Sacha Dhawan was offered a role, but turned it down because of a scheduling conflict. A year later, he was cast as the Spy Master.


  • 5.77 million (UK overnight)[6]
  • 7.48 million (UK final)[7]

Filming locations[]

Production errors[]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.

to be added


Home video releases[]

DVD & Blu-ray releases[]

  • This story was released as part of the Complete Eleventh Series boxsets on DVD and Blu-ray in region 1/A on 29 January 2019, in region 2/B on 14 January 2019 and in region 4/B on 6 February 2019.

Digital releases[]

  • In the United Kingdom, this story is available on BBC iPlayer.

External links[]