Writer: Vinay Patel Director: Jamie Childs
First broadcast Sunday 11 November on BBC One
Running time: 50 minutes
Broadcast at a time when some within the British National media were busy accusing the television series of a significant ratings drop due to its viewers ‘branding the show as being too PC’, Vinay Patel’s “Demons Of The Punjab” has most assuredly provided conclusive proof that the show’s critics are wrong with a decidedly moving mixture of Mankind’s darkest past and extra-terrestrial visitations. Indeed, it is hard to recall the science fiction programme providing such an emotional rollercoaster of a ride since Tom MacRae’s “The Girl Who Waited” first aired way back in September 2011, as “Yaz attempts to discover her grandmother’s hidden history” and Jodie Whittaker’s marvellous take on the travelling Time Lord “discovers demons haunting the land.”
Admittedly, those expecting a purely historical tale were probably quickly disappointed with the arguably all-too quick appearance of a pair of multi-eyed vampiric assassins and more teleporting than even Transporter Chief Montgomery Scott could have stomached. Yet such fantasy-based intrusions upon this tale’s real life events doesn't detract too much from a central plot which seemingly shares a great deal in common with the religious zeal and prejudicial persecution experienced by William Hartnell’s incarnation during “The Massacre Of St Bartholomew's Eve”.
Disappointingly however, as with so many stories penned during the ‘Nu Who’ era, this story’s telling does suffer with an over-abundance of the Gallifreyan’s sonic screwdriver. Whether used to track down this episode’s formidably-fanged alien interlopers, enable the Doctor to provide the viewer with all the information they could possibly ever want regarding the creatures’ craft within seconds, or simply helping her instantly rewire several conveniently-placed teleportation devices located throughout the nearby woodland, Whittaker’s repeated use of the audible probe makes one worryingly wonder just how the titular character has ever survived without it.
Fortunately though, even such an over-reliance upon a singular prop fails to dilute the impact of this tear-jerker’s heart-rending conclusion, which not only provides plenty of poignant personality to Yaz and her immediate family, but also reveals this adventure’s monster to actually be that of Prem’s murderous brother Manish; a truly arrogant, self-righteous bigot whose skewed beliefs for a separately partitioned Pakistan leads him to both cold-bloodedly murder a hapless Holy Man and stand idly by as his unarmed older brother is mercilessly gunned down for simply marrying a Muslim.