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The Lie of the Land was the eighth episode of series 10 of Doctor Who.

The conclusion of a loose story arc that began with Oxygen, it was the third part of a trilogy that pitted the Twelfth Doctor against the Monks. It also saw him enter the Vault to consult Missy, revealing his endeavour to turn her from her destructive past to a path of "good".

The episode was notable before it even aired for having one scene shown from it in the preview for all of Series 10 at the end of The Pilot: that being the Doctor starting to regenerate. Much like David Tennant after The Stolen Earth had aired, there were rumours and speculations that Peter Capaldi was actually leaving Doctor Who much earlier than he had previously announced.[1] However, the Doctor doesn't actually regenerate, as it's shown that Time Lords can actually fake a regeneration by making the usual effects appear, but with no actual change in appearance happening.


The Monks have ruled the world since humanity took its very first baby steps towards the Sun. One problem... they haven't always been there. And only Bill Potts sees the truth. But where is the Doctor? And how can Bill make the rest of the world see?


A montage of images of events in human evolution is shown, as the Doctor does a voiceover, saying that the Monks have guided humanity and helped them evolve while praising them, as a shot of the world on Earth shows that the Monks have erected giant statues of them.

Inside a house, a family is watching it, as a symbol is shown with the words "truth" underneath. Suddenly, armed men break into the house and arrest the mother for spreading information that denies the "true history" as she yells that the Monks have only been there a few months. She is sentenced to ten years in a labour camp. Bill watches them in horror, as a shot of the cities on Earth show that the statues are erected everywhere. The camera cuts to the Doctor telling everyone to relax and be obedient, assuring them that their future is being taken care of with a sinister smile.

In her flat, Bill sets down two mugs on a table, then concentrates. Another woman appears across the table. Bill greets her, saying, "Hello, Mum," revealing her to be her mother. She tells her that she did not know how the Monks had invaded. The scene changes to a flashback- Bill walking in the streets, among multiple representations of the Monks, and watching as bystanders cheer at images in a television of the Monks implementing "A swift and painless death". She remarks that it's like the population has been brainwashed. She says that she used to travel with the Doctor and Nardole, telling her mum that every day it's harder for her to remember. However, she's sure that he has a plan and "one day soon, he's going to come back and save us all".

Bill hears someone opening her door. She grabs a stool to use as a weapon but finds that the intruder is Nardole. They scream at each other in fright. She angrily asks him where he had been, who says that he had been laid up with the bacteria for 6 weeks, having been poisoned. Nardole asks Bill who she had been talking to, and she tells him that she imagined a version of her mother who she talks to "all the time". Bill notices that she knows the Monks haven't been on Earth that long, but part of her is beginning to think that it's real.

Nardole reveals that in the time after his recovery, he's done some research—he's traced the broadcasts made by the Doctor with a device he found in a drawer in the TARDIS and has thus surmised that he's being held in a prison ship. Luckily, the ships stop for supply every six weeks, and the next time the Doctor's ship does is in two days. They obtain the aid of a supply boat's captain, who isn't exactly the greatest fan of the Monks—his son got ten years in a labour camp for possessing illegal comics. After getting on the prison ship, they are stopped for a spot check (Nardole doesn't have any identity papers, and Bill is university kitchen staff) but are luckily interrupted by a Monk, who enters the room and leaves again, visibly putting off the guards and letting them go without checking Bill and Nardole's papers.

The pair quickly head into the main part of the ship, and after a while, they detect the sound of the Doctor's speech; he appears to be doing another broadcast. They find him in a room, surrounded by what appears to be speeches. The Doctor, upon noticing them bursting into the room, calls for guards and then makes a telephone call to the Monks. After inquiring as to what they were doing there, the Doctor explains that the Monks are helping human society, which is, in fact, regressing, and any extra fatalities due to them are for the greater good; the Romans did things like that as well, and saved billions more from disease, war, famine, and barbarism. Bill protests: "What about free will?" She recalls him having made her write a three thousand word essay on free will. He replies that humans had free will, and they did terrible things with it. He needed to stop them, or at least not stand in the way of someone who wanted to. Besides, she never delivered the essay. When Bill objects that it was because the world was invaded by zombie monks, the Doctor smiles dryly. "And whose fault was that?" he questions. He didn't ask for his sight back, but she had taken it upon herself to ignore him, to do what she thought best. At least they were lucky that it was a benevolent race, nothing like the Daleks.

Bill nods, seemingly agreeing; she replies that it was like that "big fish creature under the Seine in Paris". The Doctor answers that it was a coded message—it was the Thames, not the Seine. If he had played along, she would have known he was tricking them. Bill appears incensed; she takes a guard's gun and points it at the Doctor, explaining angrily that she's spent so much time looking for him, and if he really joined the Monks, they've lost. When the Doctor tells her that she really has, she shoots him. The Doctor appears to regenerate, then stands up and congratulates Bill. He and his group had to make sure that she wasn't being controlled like the rest of the population. He just needs to make sure she isn't testing him, as he needs the Monks' trust. The last six months have been spent deprogramming all the guards, talking sense into them. The plan, the Doctor explains, for testing Bill was exchanging all their ammunition for blanks, save one person who forgot. Fortunately, the person who forgot wasn't the one whose gun Bill took. He sends someone to explain to the kitchen staff, who he called instead of the Monks—they were going to be really confused. Nardole was in on the plot, as well, and the Doctor separates Bill from Nardole after she claims that she's going to beat him up. Now, he has a job for them—they are to retrieve the only person almost as smart as the Doctor, or so he claims. "Blimey, has it really come to that?" Nardole wonders.

Bill voices they should have sneaked in, Bill thinks, but the Doctor appears to drive a giant ship up toward the school. By the time they reach the university, the Monks had already arrived. Luckily, the Doctor and Bill were not heading for the office, but the vault instead, which is free of Monk surveillance. Bill noticed that by the way he and Nardole have been acting, it seemed as if they had a monster locked up in there. "I do," the Doctor replies heavily. He opens the vault, revealing Missy.

Missy tries "haggling over the fate of [the Earth]" before playing "Hot or Cold" with the Doctor and giving him hints as to how the Monks maintain their lie to the population. He eventually deduces that the Monks, through a psychic link, use Bill as the "linchpin" to keep themselves in power, and the Monk statues transmit the signal all over the globe. Missy tells him that now all he has to do is find the linchpin and kill them to prevent the link from being passed on. Bill tells Missy she's the linchpin, to which Missy replies, "Awkward." Missy adds that it would be better if Bill's brain was simply transmitting nothing, rather than her actually dying. The Doctor confronts Missy and tells her she has not changed despite her time under his care, to which Missy replies that she will be in the Vault for a long time before she becomes good then.

In the resistance group's headquarters, the Doctor and Bill explain to Nardole that Missy told Bill she has to die, and Nardole suggests they think of something else. The Doctor explains they have to break into the Cathedral, where the Monks are powering the transmitters, so the Doctor can replace Bill's brainwaves with his and cancel out the signal. Nardole expresses doubt to the plan, but the Doctor dismisses him.

In a boarded-up building, the resistance group hides while Nardole spies on the Cathedral. There are no Monks outside, which Nardole says as such, but when he turns away he tells them there were twelve. The Doctor uses this as an example of the signal beam being stronger here, and as a precaution gives them a tape with headphones to play a recording telling them why they are there and why they are fighting the Monks.

As they enter the pyramid, two of the men are killed by the Monks. One of the guard's tapes is damaged in the struggle, resulting in the Monk's programming brainwashing him to their side. As such, he turns against the Doctor, holding him at gun point. However, Nardole knocks the man out by pinching his neck, saving the Doctor. The group enter the broadcasting chamber, which the Doctor dubs "Fake News Central". They find a Monk wired into it using Bill's brainwaves to transmit lies to the population. The Doctor attempts to override the transmission by linking into the Monk's mind. However, the Monk manages to resist him, blasting the Doctor back with a surge of electricity, knocking him out.

When the Doctor later wakes up, he is tied to a pillar in the pyramid with Bill in front of him. She tells him about her plan to override the transmission herself and the Doctor protests profusely and struggles to get free. Bill walks over to the Monk and puts her hands on it just as the Doctor frees himself from his bonds.

As she links in the Monk's mind, Bill starts transmitting her memories through the psychic link to the populace. However, the Monks begin to hijack her memories and rewrite them to bring the transmission back under their control. Just before they completely rewrite her memories, the Doctor notices that there is one memory they cannot alter: Bill's mum. The Doctor encourages Bill to think about her mum, and as she does that, the image of her mum begins to transmit to everyone else on Earth, overriding the Monk's broadcast.

As they exit the Cathedral, the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole see the populace, now free of the Monk's lies, turning against them. The Monks quickly flee and take off into space. Sometime later, the Doctor and Bill find that most of humanity have no recollection of the Monks (one student, dubbed "Appalling Hair' by the Doctor, thinks that the abandoned statue was being filmed for something). In the Vault, Missy expresses remorse for those she has killed.



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 Monks propagate falsehoods and Fake News through Bill, and have injected themselves into all of human history, taking credit for humanity's achievements.
  • The Doctor suggests he'd make some modifications to history, like ending racism, and people who talk in cinemas.
  • Jane broke the Memory Crimes Act of 1975. She is sentenced to 10 years in labour camp.
  • The Doctor mentions to Bill that the Romans saved people from disease, war, famine and barbarism.
  • The Doctor mentions fascism and fundamentalism.
  • Missy plays "Hot or Cold" with the Doctor.
  • Missy mentions Celebrity Love Island.
  • The Monks' Truth posters have been plastered all over other posters, including Kikiro: One Last Time, "socialist sports car", one that mentions Carl Payne and Paul Moloneux and one that mentions Bristol.
  • Missy briefly speaks both Spanish and French.


  • The Doctor explains that Bill is unaffected in "Fake News Central" because they are at the eye of the storm, as all the lies are being broadcast from there.


  • A montage shows a cell splitting.


  • Missy claims she "once built a gun out of leaves".


Martial arts[]


  • The Doctor had Bill write a 3000-word essay on free will, which she never completed due to the Monk invasion.
  • The Doctor says Missy is going cold turkey from being bad.



Food and beverages[]

  • The Doctor has takeaway menus in a drawer in the TARDIS.
  • The Doctor says that after spending six months of talking sense into the guards, he could use a Strepsil.
  • Missy says Nardole looks like an egg.



  • A montage shows a mudskipper crawling towards a welcoming Monk.
  • The Doctor mentions the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Weeping Angels in his broadcast.
  • Time Lords can "fake" a regeneration, seemingly by starting the process only to abort it before any actual healing, if needed. The Doctor fakes a regeneration when Bill shoots him with a gun loaded with blanks that she thinks has live ammunition.


  • Bill references Heather.
  • Nardole once had an imaginary friend.
  • Nardole won his current left hand gambling.
  • The boat captain has an identity card for the Sea Ranger IV which includes his fingerprint and the Truth logo.
  • Richard, Alan and Dave are all part of the resistance group.
  • Missy had previously defeated the Monks by pushing the girl, who was the lynchpin back then, into a volcano.
  • The Doctor talks to a student.
  • The Doctor introduces Missy to Bill as "the other last of the Time Lords".


Story notes[]


Millenium FX's Gary Pollard Talks Series 10 Monsters - The Aftershow - Doctor Who The Fan Show

This episode's Aftershow on Doctor Who: The Fan Show.

McNeice's Churchill in review copies


  • 3.01 million (UK overnight figures)
  • 4.82 million (UK final)

The episode also notably had the lowest audience share of any episode since the series revived in 2005, with only 20.3%.[2]

Filming locations[]

to be added

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 releases[]

This episode was released as part of the Series 10 DVD box set on 13 November 2017.

Blu-ray releases[]

to be added

Digital releases[]

to be added

External links[]