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The Girl in the Fireplace (TV story)

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The Girl in the Fireplace
We are the same
Doctor: Tenth Doctor
Companion(s): Rose, Mickey
Main enemy: Clockwork Droids
Main setting:
Key crew
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Euros Lyn
Producer: Phil Collinson
Release details
Story number: 171
Season/series: Series 2
Premiere broadcast: 6 May 2006
Premiere network: BBC One
Format: 1 45-minute Episode
Production code: 2.4
Confidential: Script to Screen
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The Girl in the Fireplace is the fourth episode of series 2 of Doctor Who. It was first broadcast on 6 May 2006 and was written by Steven Moffat. Sophia Myles guest-starred as the historical figure Madame de Pompadour. It continues from the events of its prequel, Tardisode 4.

The episode takes place in multiple time periods as the Tenth Doctor, Rose Tyler and Mickey Smith find time windows leading to 18th century France and Clockwork Droids use them to stalk Madame de Pompadour through her life. Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies described the episode as a love story for the Doctor. The Girl in the Fireplace was well-received by most critics despite the time constraints imposed on the plot. The episode was nominated for a Nebula Award and won the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

While working with David Tennant on Casanova, Russell T Davies researched Madame de Pompadour and decided to use her in Doctor Who.

Another influence on this story was the Turk, an 18th century robot. In reality it was a hoax, but Davies hoped to give it a sinister past. Due to its experimental nature, The Girl in the Fireplace was shifted in the running order from second to fourth episode in the series.

Synopsis Edit

For their first trip with Mickey, the Tenth Doctor and Rose end up on a space ship in the future that contains several portals to pre-Revolutionary France. When he steps through one of these portals, shaped like a fireplace, the Doctor discovers the even greater mystery of actual, romantic love.

Plot Edit

18th century Versailles, a starry night: Panic is in the palace as people run from an unseen enemy. Madame de Pompadour — or Reinette — stands at a fireplace with her lover, the King of France. She tells him about a mysterious man called the Doctor who promised to come to her rescue on this night. Desperately, she calls for the Doctor through the fireplace.

Three thousand years later, the Doctor's TARDIS arrives on an abandoned space ship. The Doctor finds that, as well as being in a state of disrepair, the ship is generating enormous power, even though it is stationary. "Enough to punch a hole in the universe," he comments. Shortly afterwards, the Doctor, Rose and Mickey, who is on his first trip in the TARDIS, find an 18th century fireplace. Although the other side of the fireplace should be the outer hull of the ship, there is another room with a little girl. She informs the Doctor that she is in her bedroom in Paris and the year is 1727. When Mickey comments that the Doctor said they were supposed to be in the 51st century, the Doctor explains that the excess of power can "punch a hole in the universe". There is a "magic door" between them in the 51st century and Reinette in 1727.

Ten en guarde
The Doctor faces a clockwork droid.
MemnarcAdded by Memnarc

The Doctor decides to explore further. He flips a switch on the mantle to rotate the fireplace into Reinette's bedroom. A startled Reinette informs him that though it has been mere seconds for him, for her it has been months since they last spoke. The Doctor notices her mantle clock is broken. The ticking they hear must be coming from somewhere else. He traces the noise to Reinette's bed and has a look underneath. He is attacked by a ticking creature in period dress. The Doctor notes that the creature has been scanning Reinette's brain and asks it why, but the creature only answers questions asked by Reinette.

The Doctor tricks the creature into returning to the space ship, where he freezes it with a fire extinguisher. Removing the period dress, the Doctor finds it is a clockwork android. It teleports away before the Doctor has a chance to disassemble it. He warns Rose and Mickey not to go looking for it, and returns to Reinette's bedroom. They go looking for it anyway.

Back in Reinette's bedroom, the Doctor finds the girl is now a young lady. They share a passionate kiss before she leaves to join her mother. The Doctor returns to the space ship, laughing at the fact that he has just kissed Madame de Pompadour.

While complaining about Rose and Mickey wandering off, the Doctor finds a horse on board. It has wandered in through one of the windows in history.

Meanwhile, Mickey and Rose find a camera with a human eye in it and a human heart wired into machinery before rejoining the Doctor and the horse at another window to history. The Doctor explains that the windows to Reinette's life are all over the ship. As they watch her flirt with the king through a mirror, he says that Reinette plans to become the king's mistress.

The Doctor spots a clockwork droid in the corner, crosses through the window and freezes it again with the extinguisher. He asks Reinette to order the droid to answer his questions, noting the droids will only do what she says. He swiftly learns the droids used the space ship crew to fix it when it broke down. This was why Rose and Mickey saw a heart and an eye earlier. The droid says that they require a part of Reinette for the ship as "they are the same", but "she is not ready yet." Horrified, Reinette orders the droid to leave. Obeying, it teleports away. Rose and Mickey pursue it, taking the horse with them.

A door once opened
The Doctor examines Reinette's mind - and she his.
MemnarcAdded by Memnarc

Using his Time Lord abilities, the Doctor examines Reinette's mind, taking a look at her past. It's not long before the Doctor realises she is also looking in his mind at his lonely childhood. When he asks Reinette how she managed that, she says, "A door once opened may be stepped through in either direction." She invites the Doctor to dance with her.

Meanwhile, back on the ship, Mickey is taunting Rose about the many women the Doctor knows. She sees a Clockwork Droid coming up behind Mickey and tries to warn him, but he is seized by the droid, which injects him with something that knocks him out. Rose tries to aim her gun at the droid, but another appears behind her, grabs hold of her and pulls her down. She struggles but it will not let her up. It injects her and she falls unconscious.

Rosestrapped
Rose strapped on an operating table.
MemnarcAdded by Memnarc

Rose awakens to find herself strapped to an operating table. Mickey, on a table next to Rose, has received the same treatment. The droids loom over them, threatening to dissect them, and Rose and Mickey struggle and try to reason with them, but to no avail.

However, the Doctor appears, pretending to be drunk. He explains to his captive friends that the droids are waiting for Reinette to turn thirty-seven. This is the age of the space ship and they want her brain to replace the broken command circuit of the ship. He also pours anti-oil over one of the droids and it stops moving. He stops the other droids with a lever on a nearby console. He deactivates the tables and the three of them escape.

When the Doctor tries to close the gateways he finds that he can't — one of the droids is still in France. This droid sends a message to the droids on the ship. They spring back to life and teleport.

The Doctor sends Rose to warn Reinette that the droids will return to her some time after her thirty-seventh birthday. Mickey comes to inform Rose that the Doctor has found the correct time window. Reinette rushes into the space ship and hears her own screams from the future as the Doctor fixes an audio link to the window. Reinette decides to take the "slower path" and returns to France.

Madame doctor4
Madame de Pompadour and the Doctor in the Palace of Versailles.

Rose and Mickey return to the Doctor, who has discovered that the droids have sealed off the time window to prevent him following them. He uses the horse to break through the seal, breaking the connection between France and the ship. The Doctor explains to the droids that they are no longer needed. Seeing he is correct, they cease functioning, collapse to the floor and shatter.

Just when the Doctor thinks he is trapped in France, Reinette brings him to a room with a bed covered with flower petals and shows him the fireplace from when they first met. She had the same fireplace moved to Versailles. Because she moved the fireplace, the window was offline when the link broke so there is still a connection. Using his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor reactivates the link. The Doctor promises Reinette that he will come back for her and take her somewhere in the universe.

Pompadour mystery solved
The clockwork droids' motivation revealed.
MemnarcAdded by Memnarc

Upon his return, he meets the king, who informs him that he is too late. Reinette will be in Paris by six. They watch a hearse taking Reinette from Versailles for the last time. The king hands the Doctor a letter that she wrote to him shortly before her death. The Doctor saves it for reading back in the TARDIS. The letter tells of her love for the Doctor and how she fears that she may never see him again as she grows weaker and weaker.

As the light in the fire dies, the TARDIS dematerialises, revealing that it stood in front of a picture of Reinette. As the TARDIS leaves the scene, the name of the ship can finally be seen on the outside: SS Madame De Pompadour.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics

Movement

Casting

General post-production staff

Special and visual effects

Sound







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.


References Edit

Technology Edit

Foods and beverages Edit

  • The Doctor again mentions bananas. He claims to have accidentally invented the banana daiquiri.
  • Mickey says he can smell a Sunday roast.
  • The Doctor claims to have a glass of wine with him when he saves Rose and Mickey from the Clockwork Droids. It is in fact anti-oil.

Individuals Edit

Astronomy Edit

The Doctor Edit

Music Edit

  • The Doctor examines an harp when he returns to France for a second time.
  • He said he was using Zeus plugs as castanets.

Weather Edit

  • Snow is falling outside when the Doctor arrives in 1727.

Story notes Edit

  • This is Mickey's first trip in the TARDIS as a companion. His name does not appear in the opening credits; the first triple opening credit would not occur until John Barrowman returned temporarily in Utopia the next season; it's not until TV: A Christmas Carol in 2010 that an ongoing "third companion" receives a credit in the opening.
  • In a Production Notes column for Doctor Who Magazine #363 (November 2005), writer Steven Moffat stated that the working titles for the episode were Madame de Pompadour, Every Tick of My Heart and Reinette and the Lonely Angel.
  • Sophia Myles and David Tennant started dating after working together on this story, according to an interview with Myles on GMTV (25 April 2006). It was rumoured she carries a "Doctor Who" doll in her handbag. However, their relationship ended in 2007.
  • Although Reinette dies before she is able to accept the Doctor's offer of travelling in the TARDIS, she does briefly experience time travel when she steps through one of the holes in time and ends up aboard the vessel bearing her name millennia later.
  • Throughout this episode, Mickey wears a T-shirt which has a picture of the Nintendo Entertainment System controller over the caption, "Know Your Roots". This particular T-shirt, a limited edition, could be obtained either by subscribing to the British Nintendo Official Magazine, or by being purchased at selected GameStation outlets. In Doctor Who Magazine #367 Noel Clarke admitted to being a Nintendo fan and to being the owner of a Nintendo DS console. He also comments upon the T-shirt in the commentary which accompanies the episode on the BBC Website. Appropriately, Mickey is involved in a video game-related adventure in the spin-off novel Winner Takes All. Mickey also mentions playing a Playstation in TV: The Age of Steel.
  • As seen in the Doctor Who Confidential episode "Script to Screen", Arthur, the horse, was not allowed to set foot in the ballroom in the climactic scene. The various elements of the Doctor riding Arthur through the mirror (the horse, the mirror breaking and the reactions of the extras in the ballroom) all had to be filmed at separate times and then composited together
  • There are many sexual metaphors throughout this episode.
    • Reinette asks the Doctor to "dance", a word used by Moffat in TV: The Doctor Dances as a euphemism for sexual activity. Moffat remarked in the MP3 audio commentary with Noel Clarke that Reinette's use of the word "dance" was merely done as flirtation, that no sexual activity took place and that the only "dancing" that was done was at the Yew Tree Ball.
    • In the commentary for this episode, David Tennant remarked on the "intimacy" of the mind-reading scene and the ambiguity of the scene where Reinette and the Doctor part, the bed in the foreground hinting at seduction.
  • Radio Times credits Jonathan Hart as 'Voice of Clockwork Man' and Emily Joyce as 'Voice of Clockwork Woman'. The collective on-screen credit reads 'Alien Voices'.
  • Sophia Myles' dress in the ballroom scene was originally worn by Helen Mirren in The Madness of King George. (DCOM: The Girl in the Fireplace)
  • Reinette is the first non-companion character to kiss the Doctor on-screen.

Ratings Edit

  • The Girl in the Fireplace - 7.4m viewers

Influences Edit

Myths Edit

  • Clips were seen of the clockwork droids during the promotional trailer of Season 2 which aired at the end of The Christmas Invasion. Many viewers and fans speculated that the droids were Autons due to the way they moved and the weapons coming out of their arms.
  • After the Doctor and Reinette experience their mind link, she invites him to "dance" with her. As episode writer Steven Moffat had previously established (in The Doctor Dances) that dancing is a metaphor for making love, that the Doctor and Reinette are next seen walking away, hand in hand, and that Reinette was a courtesan, there is fan speculation that some form of lovemaking occurs "off camera". When the Doctor is next seen, he is hyper and pretending to be drunk after a great party; whether he and Reinette actually "danced" is left to the imagination. However, Steven Moffat denies that any sexual activity took place.

Filming locations Edit

  • Ragley Hall, Alcester, Warwickshire (the Ballroom of the Palace of Versailles)
  • Tredegar House, Newport, Gwent (Reinette's Studio, and the location of the funeral cortege at the end of the episode)
  • Dyffryn Gardens, St. Nicholas, Vale of Glamorgan (the Palace of Versailles and the palace grounds; also Reinette's bedroon)
  • David Broome Events Centre, Crick, Monmouthshire (the horse jump - as noted above, this was later composited into the Ballroom shots: No horse actually set a hoof into Ragley Hall!)

Production errors Edit

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.
  • The inside of the spaceship can be seen before the Doctor fixes the link that is "still basically physical" in Reinette's old bedroom.
  • When a droid stops and another falls over, the original one that stopped still stands.
  • When the Doctor reads Reinette's memories, in some views his left ring finger is above her ear and in others it is below her ear.
  • When the Doctor is spying on Reinette, he ducks behind the pillar, though he is still clutching the pillar. In the next shot he's not. This error happens several times.

Continuity Edit

Home video releases Edit

Bbcdvd-ns-2-2
Series 2 Volume 2 DVD Cover
BroadcastCorpAdded by BroadcastCorp
  • The Girl in the Fireplace (Ep 4) was sold on Series 2 Volume 2, along with Tooth and Claw and School Reunion.
  • It was also sold as part of the Series 2 Box Set, which included all 13 episodes of Series 2, along with the Children in Need Special and The Christmas Invasion.
  • It was also sold on Issue Nine of the Doctor Who DVD Files, which included the episode School Reunion on the same DVD.

See also Edit

External links Edit


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