a real world point of view
|The Girl in the Fireplace|
|Main enemy:||Clockwork Droids|
|Premiere broadcast:||6 May 2006|
|Premiere network:||BBC One|
|Format:||1 45-minute Episode|
|Confidential:||Script to Screen|
|Doctor Who television stories|
|School Reunion||Rise of the Cybermen|
|Tooth and Claw||Rise of the Cybermen|
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.
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.
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.
For their first trip with Mickey, the Doctor and Rose end up on a space ship in the future. However, something's screwy; there's no crew and random portals into Pre-revolutionary France fill almost all of the ship. Adding onto the oddness, there are broken clocks, but the sound of them ticking is still heard...
18th century Versailles, a starry night: Panic is in the palace as people run from an unseen enemy. Madame de Pompadour (a.k.a. Reinette) stands at a fireplace with her lover, King Louis 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.
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.
Using his Time Lord abilities, the Doctor examines Reinette's brain, 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.
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.
Luckily, 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 he 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.
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 shows him the fireplace where they first met. She had had the 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.
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 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.
- The Doctor - David Tennant
- Rose Tyler - Billie Piper
- Mickey Smith - Noel Clarke
- Reinette - Sophia Myles
- King Louis - Ben Turner
- Young Reinette - Jessica Atkins
- Katherine - Angel Coulby
- Manservant - Gareth Wyn Griffiths
- Clockwork Man - Paul Kasey
- Clockwork Woman - Ellen Thomas
- Alien Voices - Jonathan Hart, Emily Joyce
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner|
|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.|
- A spatio-temporal hyperlink is the Tenth Doctor's name for a "magic door".
- The Doctor states the portals to 18th century France are time windows.
- The Doctor was going to use Zeus plugs to close the time windows.
- Mickey believes the Clockwork Droid to have been defeated by an ice gun, when in fact it was a fire extinguisher.
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.
- The Doctor has an unidentified drink in a wine glass when he talks with Reinette before she shows him the fireplace.
The Doctor Edit
- The Doctor claims 1727 is one of his favourite years.
- The Doctor examines an harp when he returns to France for a second time.
- He said he was using Zeus plugs as castanets.
- 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", 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 onscreen.
- As is routine for post-2005 Doctor Who, a "NEXT TIME" trailer for the next episode is shown at the end of the episode.
- The Girl in the Fireplace - 7.4m viewers
- Writer Steven Moffat states on Doctor Who Confidential that the clockwork people were inspired by the Turk, a clockwork man who played chess around the same period (and which was later revealed to be a hoax). The story of The Turk later inspired an ongoing story arc in the TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
- Casanova featured David Tennant in a French ballroom falling in love.
- The Doctor Who novels Love and War and The Witch Hunters influenced this story. Love and War is referenced several times (see continuity) while the whole romance with the Doctor changing time zones has a similar feel to the Doctor's relationship with Rebecca Nurse.
- The Star Trek: Deep Space 9 episode The Visitor featured Ben Sisko reappearing at various points in his son's future culminating in Jake's death.
- Audrey Niffenegger's novel The Time Traveler's Wife describes a romance about a man who randomly jumps in and out of a woman's life at various points along her timeline (including her childhood), while she has to live her life linearly. (Niffenegger's 2009 novel, Her Fearful Symmetry, includes a scene where the characters are watching this episode on television.)
- 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, 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
- 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.
- This episode probably follows immediately after TV: School Reunion, with Mickey saying he got a spaceship on his "first go" as he exits the TARDIS with the Doctor and Rose.
- The Seventh Doctor had previously responded to the question, "What do monsters have nightmares about?" with "Me!" (PROSE: Love and War, The Dying Days and PROSE: Continuity Errors)
- The Doctor had encountered (unrelated) clockwork robots before in PROSE: The Clockwise Man and AUDIO: Time Works.
- Bernice Summerfield (who is from the 26th century) used a quantum imager to recreate the life of a 20th century man. He saw her as a ghostly figure appearing at key moments throughout his life. (PROSE: The Least Important Man)
- The Doctor managed to convince a crowd of his skill at the harp once, at first without playing a single note, later playing it, albeit briefly. (TV: The Romans, The Five Doctors)
- The Doctor repeats his liking for bananas. (TV: The Doctor Dances)
- Reinette asks, "Doctor Who?", continuing the long running in-joke.
- The Seventh Doctor used a similar method to read the mind of his companion Bernice Summerfield as he does with Reinette. [source needed]
- Before they are attacked by the Clockwork Droids, Rose and Mickey briefly discuss the women with whom the Doctor has had relationships, including Sarah Jane Smith, Madame de Pompadour and Cleopatra, whom Mickey claims the Doctor affectionately calls Cleo. The Fourth Doctor had previously mentioned Cleopatra to Duke Giuliano, citing one of her guardsmen as "the best swordsman I've ever seen". (TV: The Masque of Mandragora)
- Later on, the Eleventh Doctor would meet another young girl, Amelia Pond), during her childhood, before leaving and meeting her again when she is older. Reinette also called the Doctor her imaginary friend, as Amy later would. (TV: The Eleventh Hour)
Home video releases Edit
- 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
- The Girl in the Fireplace at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- The Discontinuity Guide to: The Girl in the Fireplace at The Whoniverse
- The Girl in the Fireplace at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Girl in the Fireplace at The Locations Guide