The TARDIS arrives in 1920s England, the Doctor, Jamie, Ben and Polly finding themselves in a wintry dusk beside a railway line. The station nearby appears deserted, but there are figures watching from the shadows, all of them waiting for a dead man's train...
The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Jamie, Ben and Polly to a train platform in Kent. It gets partially damaged by a passing train and the four are forced to leave and give it time to repair itself. They visit the signalman to inquire about any damage accidentally done to the train and he treats them to tea upon discovering Ben's and Jamie's credentials, thinking they've just returned from World War I. He tells them some scary stories about terrible train accidents. Polly, wanting a breath a fresh air, steps out, followed by Jamie and Ben while the Doctor stays behind to talk trains with the signalman, having got on well with him and the signalman tells him the train story of the "Phantom Light".
While exploring the station, the three get an uneasy feeling and Ben spots an eerie figure in a dark coat who disappears. They go to the waiting room and find a woman named Frances whom Polly talks to alone. The woman reveals she is waiting for her fiance's body to be brought back from the war. Meanwhile, outside, Ben explains to Jamie about the First World War, the Unknown Warrior and the Unknown Warrior's Funeral. They see a lamp in the distance and decide to go warn a mysterious figure they see to get off the train tracks. Ben, after a closer inspection, reveals the figure is actually 'figures' and they look like his Uncle's crew from the Lion moving towards them. He and Jamie find the Doctor and explain the situation. The signalman tries to send a warning to the train through the signals to slow down while Ben explains what he saw to the Doctor. Jamie runs outside to see the shadowy figures approaching the waiting room in the station where Polly and Frances are...
Frances tells Polly about her fiancé Michael Thomas who fought at the Somme. They hear the train and Frances explains she feels the body for the Unknown Warrior is him, so they go outside to check. However, once outside, they get a strange feeling about the train but the driver steps out and begins asking the girls questions. He goes off to talk to the signalman for more answers and Francis decides to go inside the train, but they get distracted by some approaching shadowy figures.
Jamie sees the girls board and approaches but despite what Ben described, Jamie sees the shadowy figures as his fellow Highlanders. Frances goes to see the coffin and Polly follows. The Doctor stops Jamie from leaving, saying that what they're seeing may be spectral. The signalman goes to try and clear off the figures on the track but they end up killing him much to the fright of the three. The Doctor explains that it may be the TARDIS's doing, and that its telepathic circuits may have been damaged when the train hit it earlier as Jamie and Ben saw different forms and figures in the shadows. Since it has landed in a post-war climate, the feelings of death and destruction so strongly associated with this war and with the Unknown Warrior and its coffin are being channeled through it into the TARDIS, causing it to manifest the strange shadowy figures that killed the signalman.
Polly and Frances look at the coffin and she explains that she wishes Michael would've returned to her alive. Suddenly a shadowy figure appears. Polly tries to stop Frances from reaching out and joining them but discovers that her pity, acting like two magnets of the same polarity repelling another, causes the figures to move away. The Doctor, Ben and Jamie are discovered by the figure Ben saw earlier, who turns out to be Michael Thomas. The Doctor realizes that the shadow figures don't seem to effect Thomas so he explains that they need to confront the shadowy figures and that they will need to use Thomas to guide them since the creatures do not effect him. They make their way to the train which is stopped at a signal when Thomas stops and explains he can't continue because he can't bear to face his fiance Frances and that the only reason he came was because he had hoped to see her get comfort from seeing the passing coffin of the Unknown Warrior. Inside the train, a figure approaches Polly and Frances, which Frances slowly realises is Michael, despite the scar on his face. She is over-joyed to see him much to his astonishment and after he explains himself, she places hers and Thomas' hands on the sword on the coffin and swears to always love him. It begins to glow and the shadowy figures begin to disappear and the Doctor explains that the coffin, the focal point for the TARDIS, is now being filled with the emotions of love and compassion by the two, driving the dark figures away and making them disappear. The Doctor heads back to the station and alerts the next signal box that the train is clear to continue.
They head for the TARDIS and the Doctor explains to Jamie that the body of the unknown soldier is going to be buried in Westminster the following day. Jamie asks the Doctor what forms the shadows took when he saw them and he gives him a puzzling explanation. When Jamie asks the Doctor about other world wars and if the world is at peace now, which the Doctor affirms that it is for now but simply replies "Only the dead have seen the end of war."
- The Doctor/Jamie/Michael Thomas - Frazer Hines
- Polly/Frances - Anneke Wills
- Ben/The Signalman - Elliot Chapman
- The TARDIS keeps track of the Gregorian calendar, the Hebrew calendar and the Islamic calendar, among others.
- 1920 equates to 5681 in the Hebrew calendar.
- Kent is known as the garden of England.
- Ben served in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Frances' fiancé Michael Thomas was killed in World War I. He fought in the Somme.
- The Unknown Warrior was buried in the cemetery of Westminster Abbey.
- Jamie initially assumes that the First World War was fought against aliens.
- Ben's uncle fought in the Battle of Jutland. He was a crewmember of the Lion.
- Jamie describes Bonnie Prince Charlie as "the Boy Prince".
- The signalman tells the Doctor the story of the Phantom Light seen after the crash of Tay Bridge.
- The TARDIS has a proximity alarm.
- The Doctor uses the TARDIS scanner.
- The Doctor recognizes a Southeastern and Chatham leaver frame and a Walker's two-position block and knows Rule 55.
- Ben expresses his surprise with the Australian slang word "Strewth".
- The station is just outside Canterbury.
- Reversing the polarity is mentioned by the Doctor, comparing it to how the TARDIS's projections of grief had been reversed to joy.
- This story was recorded on 27 October and 16 December 2015.
- This story is told from Jamie's and occasionally Polly's perspective.
- This is the first known occurrence of the Doctor's TARDIS materialising on a train station platform in the 1920s. It would later do so again, both times during the Doctor's fifth incarnation, in Cranleigh on 11 June 1925 (TV: Black Orchid) and in Calcutta, British India on 31 December 1926 (AUDIO: The Emerald Tiger).
- Jamie refers to having fought in the Battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746. (TV: The Highlanders)
- The signalman refers to the collapse of the Tay Bridge on 28 December 1879. (COMIC: The Weeping Angels of Mons)
- The TARDIS's telepathic circuits were damaged on collision with the train, causing the formation of the shadowy figures by channeling all the grief of the post-war climate of the UK focused onto the coffin of the Unknown Warrior. The telepathic circuits can also read minds and use emotions such as love and loss, and the Twelfth Doctor used them to help Clara locate Danny Pink after he died. (TV: Dark Water)
- Ben uses the exclamation "Strewth", an Australian phrase Tegan often used. (AUDIO: Ghost Walk, et al.)