Inside the TARDIS the Doctor busies himself at the console when Rose enters, ready for their next landing. The Time Lord reveals that they are about to arrive in Sheffield in 1979 to see Ian Dury and the Blockheads perform live. The ship lands with a thud and the pair step outside, only to be held at gunpoint.
The Doctor glances at the soldiers in period costume surrounding them and realises they have arrived one hundred years too early. Upon hearing the guards speak the Time Lord discovers they have also landed in the wrong place, they are in Scotland. He adopts a Scottish brogue to try and relieve some tension and Rose follows suit, but fails to do so convincingly and instead reverts to her natural accent. Her fellow traveller then presents himself as James McCrimmon, a medical student.
A voice is heard from a nearby carriage the soldiers are guarding and the two time travellers step forward to greet the occupant, who is revealed to be Queen Victoria. The Doctor introduces himself to her and upon noting the monarch’s surprise at Rose’s modern attire, claims she is a savage he brought some time ago. He hands over his psychic paper as proof of his credentials, but upon examining them Victoria claims they are not those of a medical student, but of her appointed protector.
The Doctor is surprised to find the Queen travelling by coach and she explains that the train to Scotland was cancelled when a tree hit the line, not entirely by accident. Rose is shocked by the implication that an attempt was to be made on her life but Victoria claims it is not such a big problem, she is no stranger to staring down the barrel of a gun. She then tells the Doctor and Rose to join her and her guards on their journey to the house of Sir Robert McLeash, an overnight stop on her way to the city. She claims they should arrive soon, musing on the tales of wolves roaming the Scottish wilds. The procession continues with the Doctor and Rose following on behind, talking excitedly of meeting the famous monarch. Rose then bets her friend she can make the Queen say “we are not amused”, and he agrees to the wager.
Soon they arrive at the house and Sir Robert watches them arrive from an upstairs window. Standing beside him, Father Angelo warns that if he does not cooperate with his wishes then his wife Lady Isobel will suffer. Robert makes his way downstairs and greets his guests, telling them his wife is away from home, thus explaining her absence. He subtly tries to persuade the Queen not to stay but she is insistent, and claims her late husband spoke fondly of the house: the Torchwood Estate.
Again apologising for Rose’s differing dress sense, the Doctor prepares to go inside with his companion, who begins her attempts to win their bet but fails to lure the Queen into reciting the famous quotation. As the party enter the house the Queen’s guards begin to surround the building, after taking a casket from her carriage and carrying it inside.
Meanwhile, in the basement, the scared servants cower from the uncovered cage. Inside sits a cloaked man, his head bowed. He raises a finger to silence his whimpering audience as they look on in dread.
The box from the carriage is stored safely inside the house whilst Sir Robert takes the Doctor, Rose and Queen Victoria to the observatory to see a grand telescope built by his father. The Doctor examines it with gusto and comments that it has too many prisms; the magnification is far too great. Rose again tries to win her bet but her efforts amount to nothing. Victoria instead reminisces about her late husband Albert and his fascination with local stories of wolves that stalk the area.
Sir Robert begins to elucidate on the legends but Father Angelo, posing as his head butler, cuts him off by announcing the guest’s rooms are ready. Victoria claims it is time Rose put on some proper clothes, and again the young traveller takes the opportunity to push her luck in winning the bet. Victoria doesn’t reciprocate and instead claims the group is to dine together that night, to hear more about the wolf.
As the sun sets and the kitchen staff (alias other members of the brotherhood) prepare supper, Rose searches her room for clothes, and startled to find a young servant girl hiding in her wardrobe. Elsewhere in the house the already-fed guards begin to fall unconscious, observed by Father Angelo.
Flora, the girl in the wardrobe, explains to Rose that the brethren took over the house and imprisoned the staff, as well as Sir Robert’s wife. Rose comforts her and claims the Doctor will be able to help. They leave the room and find one of the unconscious guards slumped on the floor. Rose kneels down to examine him and realises he has been drugged, but before she can act the brothers attack and abduct her and Flora.
In the dining room the Doctor, Sir Robert, Victoria and her guardian Captain Reynolds are waiting to dine when Father Angelo enters to tell them Rose has been delayed. Again Queen Victoria finds herself lamenting her lost husband, before encouraging Sir Robert to tell the story of the local wolf.
Down in the cellar Rose and Flora have been tied up with the rest of the staff, not far from the cloaked man in the cage. Rose does not understand what threat the man poses but Lady Isobel, Sir Robert’s wife, explains that he is unlike any other human. Sure enough, when he raises his bowed head to look at the group he reveals to them that his eyes are unlike those of any man, they are those of a wolf.
Back in the dining room Sir Robert explains that the legend of the local beast dates back three hundred years; claiming that every full moon a howling noise rings through the valleys and soon after livestock goes missing. The Captain dismisses it as fiction to cover for thieves but Sir Robert continues, revealing to his guests that once every generation a young boy goes missing as well.
In the cellar Rose looks at the cage, slowly creeping toward it. She asks the creature inside where it came from, noting it is not from Earth. She asks where it was born and the creature replies; its body was born not far away but was stolen by the brethren for cultivation. His soul was carved out; the creature the monks concealed from the world engulfed him and it sat in his heart.
In the dining room the Doctor enquires as to what the monster looks like. Sir Robert explains that although it may appear to be a wolf, it is really a man who transforms into an animal: a werewolf.
Below ground the creature continues to talk, telling its fellow captives of its ambitions to migrate into the body of Queen Victoria and then take over her great empire. Suddenly it roars and claims that is sees a wolf within Rose. She disregards the remark but he continues, claiming she burns like the sun, but all he needs is the moon…
Back upstairs Sir Robert explains his father’s fascination with the beast, recalling how he claimed to have communicated with the creature and learned its purpose. He then notes how the local brotherhood opposed the investigations. Although initially suspecting the opposition to be because of godly matters, he now believes it is because of something else.
He carries on talking but the Doctor’s attention is drawn elsewhere. He observes as the head butler walks over to the window and begins chanting quietly in Latin. All the while Sir Robert continues, stating how he believes the brethren have turned from God, and have begun worshipping the wolf instead.
Down in the cellar the brethren open the outer doors, exposing the creature in the cage to the full moon outside. It basks in the moonlight and begins to remove its cloak. His face slowly begins to metamorphose into that of a wolf. Rose realises what is happening and tells the other prisoners to help as she begins pulling at their chains, hoping to dislodge them from the wall.
Upstairs, Father Angelo continues to chant and the Doctor realises there is dirty work afoot. Victoria demands to know what is happening as Sir Robert apologises to her, explaining how the monks have captured his wife and he had no option but to help them in their plans. The Doctor tells them to run.
Down in the basement the creature is slowly transforming, howling at the moon all the while. Rose and the other prisoners continue to pull at the chains whilst upstairs the Captain threatens Father Angelo, demanding to know what he is doing and why. The monk turns to look at him and answers, claiming he wants the British throne. Queen Victoria looks on as he knocks out the Captain, whilst the Doctor and Sir Robert run out into the corridor.
Below stairs the wolf begins to take shape. Rose and her fellow captors shatter their chains just as the Doctor and Sir Robert arrive to save them. The Time Lord stares in amazement at the wolf as it breaks out of its cage. He quickly runs off, following the others, and then locks the door with the sonic screwdriver. The wolf howls again.
In the dining room Victoria confronts Father Angelo, realising that it was he who halted her train. He turns to her and explains that the brotherhood have waited a long time for one of her trips to coincide with the full moon, and now they have the chance they need. Despite his threatening tone Victoria stands firm and reminds him that assassination attempts are commonplace to her, and as such she has taken measures to arm herself. Pulling a revolver from her handbag she aims the barrel at him but he dismisses her as a weak woman. She retorts, and after claiming that the correct term of address is “your majesty”, she pulls the trigger.
Elsewhere, in the corridors of the house, the newly freed male servants are arming themselves against the beast, whilst the women hurry with Lady Isobel to the kitchen to flee the house via the back entrance. After the Doctor discovers the creature from the basement has escaped Rose recalls what happened when the full moon appeared. Suddenly the creature arrives and pursues the two travellers, leaving the servants to open fire. Meanwhile, the women arrive in the kitchens but find the back door locked and the brethren guarding the lawns outside.
The Doctor calls for the servants to run upstairs and escape but he is ignored. The beast, creeping around in the rafters, picks its moment to strike and kills many of them. The remaining few run off as the beast approaches the kitchen. It stops, sniffs and then runs back the way it came.
Locating the house’s safe, Victoria manages to open it and finds the box from her carriage inside. She empties its contents into her bag and then turns to find Sir Robert entering the room. She explains that Captain Reynolds has disposed of Father Angelo then watches as the Doctor arrives to tell them the doors have been blocked, so they must use a window to escape from the house instead. Sir Robert leads the way but after being fired at by the brethren guards on the lawn, returns inside. The Doctor realises their only hope now is to run. Taking the revived Captain Reynolds with them, he, Rose, Sir Robert and the Queen flee.
Sure enough a chase ensues around the corridors and stairways of the house. Eventually Captain Reynolds decides it is time to stand and fight, despite the Doctor’s warnings to the contrary. After confirming with Victoria that the ‘treasure’ is safe, he draws a gun and opens fire as the beast approaches. His bravery is to no avail. The others manage to make their way to the library and barricade the door. The Doctor puts his ear to wall and listens as the beast arrives outside. It sniffs the walls of the room and then retreats.
Tracing the grunts of the creature outside the four captives realise it is heading for another door into the room, which the Doctor and Sir Robert quickly obstruct. The beast scrapes about but does not try to force entry, causing the Doctor to ponder why. Sir Robert apologises to Victoria for allowing her to enter the house, knowing she was in danger, and Rose takes the opportunity to ask if the monarch is amused.
Turning on her, Victoria warns that their situation is not to be found funny, and asks to be told the exact species of the beast outside. The Doctor, having reverted back to his normal tone of voice, explains that although it appears to be a werewolf, it is in fact an alien. The monarch then turns on him as she did with his companion and notes the change in his accent, pondering if his denotes he is not to be trusted.
Back in the kitchen Lady Isobel notices the guards outside are all wearing necklaces fashioned from mistletoe, and are not being attacked by the marauding beast. Realising this may be the key to safety; she and her servants begin scouring the kitchen for more scraps of the plant.
In the library the Doctor notices a carved emblem of mistletoe mounted on the door and then discovers traces of the plant have been mixed with the varnish on the walls. He realises that Robert’s father must have discovered the creature is repelled by the blossom and used it to protect the room. He then turns to the bookshelf, hoping it will provide him with more information
In the kitchen the servants begin brewing the mistletoe in boiling water. All the while the other survivors begin scouring the many tomes in the library to try and find out more about the beast. They discover a spaceship fell to Earth in 1540 near to the brethren’s monastery. The alien inside managed to keep itself alive by inhabiting the body of a young boy. It would see each body through to old age then find another. Now it wants to take over the throne and create its own empire, accelerating technology so that the Victorian era will be capable of space travel.
Victoria speaks up and claims that if she is to die in the house she would rather destroy herself than let the wolf infect her. She asks Sir Robert to find a safe place for the treasure she is holding, then opens her bag and produces the Koh-i-Noor diamond. She quips that the jewel’s legend appears to be coming true: whoever possesses the stone is doomed to die.
The Doctor takes the jewel and examines it. He asks why Victoria was carrying it with her and she tells him she was taking it to be re-cut, her late husband having never been happy with its shape. The Doctor recalls the stories of how Albert always wanted it cut down and Victoria adds that he claimed the stone’s shine was not right.
The Doctor suddenly begins to piece things together. The house may be a trap for the Queen but Albert and Sir Robert’s father, having heard of the wolf and its motives, realised what would happen and set a trap within a trap to stop the creature. The Time Lord is cut off from his train of thought when the captives realise the beast has found another way into the room. They look up to see it crawling around on the glass skylight mounted in the ceiling.
A moment later the glass gives way and the beast descends into the room. The Doctor and Sir Robert unblock one of the doors and flee with Rose and the Queen. The beast gives chase but is repelled when Lady Isobel and the other servants douse the creature in mistletoe water. Safe for a moment she and Sir Robert embrace, before being parted again in order for Isobel to lead the servants to safety.
The Doctor announces they must get to the observatory and sure enough they arrive soon after. Sir Robert claims he will offer a last line of defence, remaining in the corridor to do battle with the beast whilst the others go inside. The Doctor and Rose begin to manoeuvre the telescope so that it points at the moon, whilst outside Sir Robert grabs a sword and confronts the wolf, hoping his act will reclaim his honour. He braces himself for the attack, but is dead within seconds.
The Doctor explains that the telescope is really a light chamber, a device that amplifies luminosity. He and Rose slowly move the apparatus into place and it powers up, magnifying the light of the moon into a powerful beam that is aimed at the door. Suddenly the beast bursts in and towers over Victoria. The Doctor grabs the Koh-i-Noor and throws it into the path of the light beam, causing it to intensify further. The beast is captured in the light and rises up into the air, reverting to human form. The host body begs the Doctor to increase the light further and let him die. The Time Lord concedes and watches as the boy is reduced to dust. Meanwhile, Victoria nurses a wound on her wrist. The Doctor asks if the beast attacked her but she insists it is a scratch obtained when the door gave way.
The next day the Doctor and Rose kneel before the Queen, who dubs them Sir Doctor of TARDIS and Dame Rose of the Powell Estate. They get to their feet and thank her. The Doctor then tells Victoria that he thinks Albert’s trap with the light chamber and the diamond was really a message from beyond the grave, the one she has been searching for since she lost him. The Queen tells him there is something else he must think about: she is not amused. Rose rejoices at winning her wager with the Doctor but is silenced when it becomes clear the monarch is being serious.
She tells the two travellers that they are henceforth banished from her kingdom, never to return. Disproving of their apparent lust for danger and activities threatening death, she announces that events such as those she has witnessed must not be allowed to continue. She tells them they must consider how they have strayed from the path of good and contemplate how much longer they may hope to survive such lives as they lead. She then tells them to leave, and never return.
Some time later the Doctor and Rose appear back on the hillside where they arrived. The Doctor recalls the fact that Queen Victoria was a haemophiliac, which could be a cover-up for her really being a werewolf. Her royal descendants also had the illness, which could mean the infection from the beast may still be present in the 21st Century, by which time the disease will have reached maturity. Amazed by this prospect the two travellers depart in the TARDIS, howling as they go.
That night, back at the house, Queen Victoria says farewell to Lady Isobel. She asks what she will do now her husband has gone and she tells her that the house will be sold or pulled down. However, the Queen has other ideas. She decides that the sacrifices of the night will not have been in vain. Now she has seen the terrors facing Great Britain, she claims an institute must be set up to combat such foes. The institute will be named after the house, and should the Doctor ever return then he must beware, because Torchwood will be waiting…