The Girl in the Fireplace

The Girl in the Fireplace

Infobox Doctor Who episode
serial_name= The Girl in the Fireplace

caption= The Doctor searches Madame de Pompadour's mind.
doctor=David Tennant (Tenth Doctor)
companion=Billie Piper (Rose Tyler)
companion2=Noel Clarke (Mickey Smith)
* Sophia MylesReinette
* Ben Turner – King Louis
* Jessica Atkins – Young Reinette
* Angel Coulby – Katherine
* Gareth Wyn Griffiths – Manservant
* Paul Kasey – Clockwork Man
* Ellen Thomas – Clockwork Woman
writer=Steven Moffat
director=Euros Lyn
script_editor=Helen Raynor
producer=Phil Collinson
executive_producer=Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
length= 45 minutes
date=6 May 2006
preceding="School Reunion"
following="Rise of the Cybermen"
series=Series 2
series_link=Series 2 (2006)|
"The Girl in the Fireplace" is the fourth episode of the second series of the British science fiction television series "Doctor Who". It was first broadcast on 6 May 2006, and is the only episode in the 2006 series written by Steven Moffat. Sophia Myles guest-starred as the historical figure Madame de Pompadour. [cite web|url=|title=Episode Guide: The Girl in the Fireplace|work=Outpost Gallifrey|accessdate=2008-01-23]

The episode takes place in multiple time periods as the Tenth Doctor and characters Rose and Mickey find time windows leading to 18th century France and a group of clockwork androids using them to stalk Madame de Pompadour throughout her life. "Doctor Who" writer Russell T Davies described the episode as a love story for the Doctor. Overall, "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.


The TARDIS arrives in a derelict spaceship, which is fully functional yet motionless and without a crew. The travellers —the Doctor, Rose Tyler, and Mickey Smith— are further baffled to find an 18th century French fireplace. Looking through the fireplace, the Doctor sees a young girl. He asks who she is, and she replies that her name is Reinette, and that she lives in Paris in the year 1727. The fireplace is a "time window", allowing direct access to another time and place; passing through the window, the Doctor arrives in Reinette's bedroom, although months have passed here, rather than mere seconds in the Doctor's time. Examining the room, the Doctor discovers a nightmarish ticking humanoid under Reinette's bed. The Doctor tricks the creature back through the time window to the spacecraft, where he and his companions learn that it is actually an android made of intricate, beautiful clockwork. Returning to Reinette's bedroom, the Doctor finds that she is now several years older. She remembers him, and her charm and intelligence entrances the Doctor; they kiss, but she runs off to answer a summons for "Mademoiselle Poisson". The Doctor realizes she is Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, also known as Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV, a historic figure he admires greatly.

Returning to the ship, the Doctor and his companions find several additional time windows at various locations throughout the ship, each leading to a different moment from the life of Madame de Pompadour. In one of them, the Doctor sees another clockwork creature menacing her. Stepping through the time window, he defends Reinette. Obeying her orders to explain itself, the clockwork creature tells her that the spaceship was damaged in an ion storm; the maintenance androids did not have the parts necessary to repair the ship, and killed the crew to use their organs for parts. One more part is required for the ship to be fully functional: Reinette's brain. Seeking more information on the motivation of the clockwork androids, the Doctor reads Reinette's mind, but is startled to find that she can read his as well, and has enormous empathy for his loneliness. Rose and Mickey are taken captive by the androids, but rescued by the Doctor, who has discovered that the creatures are trying to open a time window into Reinette's life at the age of 37. At that age, the literal-minded androids believe Reinette's brain will be compatible with the ship's 37-year-old systems. The clockwork androids appear at a costume ball, forcing Reinette and the rest of the guests into the ballroom. At one end of the room is an enormous mirror, which is actually a time window; the Doctor and his companions can see through it, but cannot pass through without smashing the window; this would break the connection.

The creatures threaten to decapitate Reinette, but the Doctor crashes through the mirror to save her, although he believes he has stranded himself in Versailles in the year 1758. The clockwork androids give up and shut down when the doctor tells them that they have no way to return to the ship to carry out their mission. Reinette reveals that she had her fireplace moved to Versailles, hoping that the Doctor would return; the Doctor uses the window to return to the ship, and tells Reinette to pack a bag and choose a constellation to visit with him. When the Doctor returns to the fireplace, however, he finds Reinette is not there to meet him, having died in the six years since the Doctor's last visit. King Louis XV gives the Doctor a parting letter from Reinette, and the Doctor returns alone to the TARDIS. In the letter, Reinette expresses her hopes that the Doctor will return quickly, asking him to hurry as her days grow short, referring to him as "my love" and her "lonely angel". The Doctor returns the letter to his pocket, watching on the TARDIS screen as the fireplace goes dark and the time window is closed forever. The TARDIS vanishes from the derelict spaceship, and as the now-lifeless ship drifts through space, the camera reveals the ship's name is the "SS Madame de Pompadour".


For the dating of this episode, see the Chronology.

While the episode appears to follow immediately from the previous episode "School Reunion", Moffat notes in the audio commentary that when he wrote the episode he had not yet read the end of "School Reunion", hence the lack of continuing animosity shown towards Mickey by Rose after he joins the TARDIS crew. After reading the Doctor's mind, Reinette says "Doctor who?", a reference both to the series' title and to the long-running mystery about the Doctor's actual name. She also says that it is "more than just a secret", but does not elaborate further. Moffat explains that he added the dialogue because he believes that, as the Doctor does not tell even his closest companions his name, there must be a "dreadful secret" about it. Moffat also explains that he did not include the word "Torchwood" (an "arc word" in the second series) in the script because Davies did not ask him to do so.


In an interview with "The Independent", Russell T Davies described the episode as "practically a love story for the Doctor... It's very understated, very beautifully done, but it's nonetheless a Time Lord falling in love and Rose's reaction to him falling in love with someone else."cite web | author=Byrne, Clar |url= | title=Russell T Davies: The saviour of Saturday night drama | work=The Independent | date=2006-04-10 | accessdate=2006-04-11 ] The scenes of Versailles were all filmed elsewhere, with Ragley Hall in Warwickshire standing in for the ballroom and Dyffryn Gardens near Cardiff standing in for the gardens at the palace. [cite web
url =| title =The Girl In The Fireplace locations guide| work| accessdate =2006-05-08
] Two horses were used in the episode: one named Bolero was used for the scenes in close quarters on the spaceship, and another, named Arthur, for jumps. As seen in "Doctor Who Confidential", 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; Tennant's head was superimposed upon that of the stunt rider in post-production. Steven Moffat states on the "Doctor Who Confidential" episode "Script to Screen" 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).cite video |people= Clarke, Noel; Moffat, Steven|date2= |title= The Girl In the Fireplace Audio Commentary|url=|format=MP3|publisher=BBC |location= |accessdate=2008-01-19] Much of the episode takes place in pre-revolutionary France and features characters of the period, including Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson. There are some historical inaccuracies; for example, Poisson calls herself "Reinette" in 1727, whereas in reality the nickname (meaning "Little Queen") was not given to her until 1730. [cite web| author=Kren, Emil; Marx, Daniel| title=DROUAIS, François-Hubert| publisher=| date=| work=Web Gallery of Art| url=| accessdate=2006-05-07]

cite web ">url=|title=TV Review: BBC's Doctor Who - "The Girl In The Fireplace" | |author=Milam, Matthew |date=2006-05-06 |accessdate=2008-01-20] other reviewers agreed that the script was excellent. [cite web |year=2006 |author=Lang, Stephen |url=|title=The Girl in the Fireplace Reviews (Pg 3) |work=Outpost Gallifrey |accessdate=2008-01-20] Another reviewer for Outpost Gallifrey decided that although there were highly questionable plot holes and elements that "strain credulity", the visual design and the relationships in the episode made it much more enjoyable than expected. The review was not without criticism, however, with the writer annoyed by the "self-awareness" of the characters to the fact that they are in a TV show.cite web |year=2006 |author=Anderson, Shane |url= |title=The Girl in the Fireplace Reviews (Pg 1) |work=Outpost Gallifrey |accessdate=2008-01-20] Other reviewers noted that the forty-five minute time constraints caused the episode to suffer. [cite web |last=Brenna |first=Shane |date=2006-05-11 |url= |title=The Girl in the Fireplace | |accessdate=2008-01-10]

The final rating for the episode was 7.90 million, making it the thirteenth most watched programme of the week. [cite web|url=|title=A Brief History of Time (Travel):The Girl in the Fireplace |accessdate=2007-04-07] The script for this episode was nominated for the 2006 Nebula Award.cite web |url= |title=2006 Final Nebula Award Ballot |publisher=Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. | |accessdate =2007-04-12] "The Girl in the Fireplace" also won the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.cite web |url= |title=2007 Hugo Awards |publisher=World Science Fiction Society | |date=2007-09-01 |accessdate=2007-09-01]


External links

* [ Episode trailer]
* [ Episode commentary by Phil Collinson, Helen Raynor and Eugene Washington] (MP3)
* [ "The Girl in the Fireplace" episode homepage]
*BBCDWnew | year=2006 | id=girlinthefireplace | title= The Girl in the Fireplace
*Brief| id=2006d | title=The Girl in the Fireplace|quotes=y
*Doctor Who RG| id=who_tv15 | title=The Girl in the Fireplace|quotes=y
*OG|2006-04|The Girl in the Fireplace|quotes=y
* episode|id=452182|title=The Girl in the Fireplace


*OG review| id=2006-04 | title=The Girl in the Fireplace|quotes=y
*DWRG| id=fireplace| title=The Girl in the Fireplace|quotes=y

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