Doctor Who

Season 2 Episode 4

The Girl in the Fireplace

Aired Saturday 8:00 PM May 06, 2006 on BBC America
out of 10
User Rating
683 votes

By Users

Episode Summary


Madame de Pompadour finds the court at Versailles under attack from sinister clockwork droids. Her only hope of salvation lies with the man who has haunted her dreams since childhood – a mysterious stranger known only as the Doctor. Can a broken clock summon the Lord of Time?


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  • A love story that doesn't involve Rose.

    How wonderful it is to have two amazing stories back-to-back! The last episode was School Reunion where we saw the return of Classic companion, Sarah Jane Smith, and where Mickey decided that rather than staying home as the surveillance tin dog, he would join the TARDIS crew and go on some travels of his own. And lucky for Mickey, his first adventure in The Girl in the Fireplace is one of the best from this series. This episode, more than any other in the Davies era, has a resemblance closer to a fairy tale than to traditional sci-fi . what most people think of when they hear the term 'sci-fi'). It is written by Steven Moffat (always a plus) and literally has something for everyone. If I have to recommend an episode for a person newly interested in Doctor Who to start with, The Girl in The Fireplace is always on that list as it showcases some of the best elements of the show.

    What do I personally think of this episode? I love it! The writing is tight and has an almost magical quality to it. You have to try really hard to find a plot hole and even then there is usually a line somewhere explaining it away, so you probably just weren't listening closely enough. The sets and costumes are absolutely gorgeous and there is a nice contrast between the period language of 18th Century Versailles and the modern Rose, Mickey, and The Doctor himself. Rose wasn't annoying, Mickey was actually perceptive, and The Doctor fell in love with a woman who (while still quite young for him) is actually quite mature and wise. I give The Girl in The Fireplace a 10/10.

  • Best episode in 30 years.

    I've been watching Doctor Who since the 70s, and this is my favourite episode ever.

    Tennant isn't my favourite doctor, due to the megalomania of the character and overexposure of the actor later in his tenure. When The Girl in the Fireplace aired, I was quite enamoured of David Tennant, and thought his portrayal of the Doctor was everything it ought to be, that is, heroic, quirky, intelligent, curious, funny, compassionate and even a little romantic.

    The monsters in this episode are, as the Doctor says, "beautiful" and a touch scary - but not so much that a child wouldn't be glued to the screen (for Doctor Who always was, and always should be a kids' show - I want my kids to watch it).

    There's timey-wimey stuff, fantastic anachronisms and the Doctor's compassion enables him to see that the monsters' problem can be solved, removing the threat to humankind (so often a feature of Doctor Who).

    My review is almost over yet I have totally undersold the athletic qualities of this episode, the enigma of the opening scenes, and the closing image.moreless
  • The Girl in the Fireplace

    The Girl in the Fireplace was a perfectly entertaining episode of Doctor Who and I really enjoyed watching. The story was awesome, the enemy was creative and intriguing, and The Doctor makes another connection with a great female from the past. I liked how every thing played out and enjoyed the touching scenes in the end. I look forward to watching what happens in the next adventure!!!!!!!!!
  • And, I mean that in the sense of this having been just as wonderfully poignant as, say, any episode of "Ghost Whisperer."

    From the research I've done, on the real Madame Pompadour, she was not just a secretary, in name only. Unlike the young women introduced to strangers by their philandering married bosses of today. Nope! She started out as the wife of Lenormand D'Etoiles (the nephew of some financier). So, when she became the secretary of King Louis XV, she had the administrative training to go along with the title. In other words, she was loved for her brains as well as her beauty. And, obviously, the Doctor was no exception to that rule. For that matter, neither were the maintenance androids trying to repair that 51st-century spaceship. I admit it. The ruthless efficiency they demonstrated, in re-interpreting their basic programming, made them almost as scary--to me--as the Daleks, themselves! Just the same; action and comedy relief took second place to sentiment, this week. And, I wouldn't have had it any other way! I kind of sensed what would happen when the Doctor told Rinette to wait two minutes. Only to be told in the next scene, that Rose and Mickey had been waiting for him for almost six hours! Like I said, up top. I cried at the end, just like I do for any episode of "Ghost Whisperer." Still, being a Time Lord, it would be no problem to use the TARDIS to keep his promise (and appear for Rinette within the aforementioned two minutes). I mean; her letter didn't specify that he had broken that promise. Only that she was still waiting for him! So, he could very well have made that sixth visit, after all. And, just never got around to making a seventh one. Yet, just the same, the news of Rinette's death must have brought home the point he had made to Sarah Jane. That, with the combined life-spans of all his regenerations, he is somewhat cursed to outlive those he comes to love as friends (or even something more).moreless
  • The best episode to date, hands down. Brilliant but heartbreaking.

    A truly haunting love story between the Doctor and an 18th century noblewoman, Reinette, who is the focus of the clockwork crew of a ship from the 51st century. From the age of 7, Reinette has had visits from the Doctor, a man whose memory stayed with her to the day she died. Where for the Doctor only minutes have passed, for Reinette it is years, during which she longs to meet him again. A gifted, talented, remarkable woman, she captures the Doctor's heart as effortlessly as he captures hers. The exquisite actress, Sophia Myles, transforms a character that could have been merely interesting into a captivating, charismatic, delightful woman who delivers the most beautiful speeches so eloquently she wrenches your heart. Her final letter to the Doctor, watching the hearse drive away and the Doctor's subtle devastated reaction bring tears to your eyes. In addition to the love story, is some truly great comic moments – the Doctor finding a horse on the ship who follows him around; as Rose uses him as a threat, he strolls in singing, wearing sunglasses and his tie around his head!, Reinette: "This is my lover, the King of France." Doctor: "Yeah? Well, I'm the Lord of Time."; Rose tells the Doctor he can't keep the horse and the Doctor retorts that she has Mickey!

    One thing: the sight of that clockwork thing standing over the bed, very freaky, looks too much like a clown at that moment, but strangely, at the end, where you see the golden gears inside it's head, it really is as beautiful as the Doctor said.

    Lovely touch at the end – They couldn't figure out why Reinette had been chosen and the last scene shows the name of the ship: Madame de Pompadour.

    Season 2 has had great episodes but this one just blows the others away. Utterly fantastic casting and the writers went above and beyond here, the entire episode is a masterpiece.moreless
Angel Coulby

Angel Coulby


Guest Star

Sophia Myles

Sophia Myles


Guest Star

Jay Faldren

Jay Faldren

King Louis

Guest Star

Paul Kasey

Paul Kasey

Clockwork Man

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • In season 1, episodes "The End of the World" and "Boom Town," the Doctor used his sonic screwdriver to reverse-teleport and bring back escaping subjects (Cassandra and the Slitheen respectively). However, in this episode he sees the clockwork men teleport away three times, each time being disappointed, but never tries to bring them back.

    • Reinette, age 37, introduced Louis XV to the Doctor as her lover, yet by that point in her life she was no longer his mistress.

    • Rose wears a Wichita Falls, Texas t-shirt throughout the episode and in the previous episode, "School Reunion", Mickey wears a University of Texas t-shirt for a short time.

    • At the end, we see her funeral hearse leaving Versaille in the rain, and Louis XV remarks, "There she goes, leaving Versaille for the last time. Only 43 when she died... too young. Too Young.". Reportedly, Louis XV's actual remarks as her hearse left in the rain, were: "La Marquise n'aura pas beau temps pour son voyage." ("The Marquise won't have good weather for her journey.").

    • The spaceship is designed in the shape of a key.

    • Madame de Pompadour calls herself "Reinette" in 1727, whereas in actual fact, this was a nickname meaning "Little Queen" which was not given to her until 1730.

    • When the 37-year old Madame de Pompadour calls for the Doctor through the fireplace at the beginning of the episode, she talks quickly, leaving no gaps. However, when the 32-year old Madame de Pompadour hears herself, the 37-year old leaves a lengthy gap between "It is time" and "Doctor! Doctor!"

  • QUOTES (24)

    • King Louis: We are under attack! There are creatures. I don't even think they're human. We can't stop them.
      Reinette: The clock is broken. He's coming.
      King Louis: Did you hear what I said?
      Reinette: Listen to me. There is a man coming to Versailles. He has watched over me my whole life, and he will not desert me tonight.
      King Louis: What are you talking about? What man?
      Reinette: The only man, save you, I have ever loved. No, don't look like that. There's no time. You have your duties. I am your mistress. Go to your queen. (crouches down and talks into the fireplace) Are you there? Can you hear me? I need you now. You promised. The clock on the mantle is broken. It is time. Doctor! Doctor!

    • Clockwork Droid: (to Rose and Mickey) You are compatible.

    • The Doctor: Always bring a banana to a party, Rose. Bananas are good!

    • (The Doctor returns from a party, apparently drunk, to find the clockwork droids looking at Rose and Mickey, who are strapped to tables)
      The Doctor: (to a Clockwork droid) Ohhoho, brilliant! It's you! You're my favourite, you are, you're the best! You know why? 'Cause you're so thick! You're Mr Thick Thick Thickity Thick Face from Thicktown, Thickania. And so's your dad.

    • Reinette: (voiceover; her final letter to the Doctor) My dear Doctor, the path has never seemed more slow, and yet I fear I am nearing its end. Reason tells me that you and I are unlikely to meet again, but I think I shall not listen to reason. I have seen the world inside your head, and know all things are possible. Hurry, though, my love. My days grow shorter now and I am so very weak. Godspeed, my lonely angel.

    • Reinette: (to the clockwork droid) I have made a decision. And my decision is no. I shall not be going with you today. I have seen your world and I have no desire to set foot there again.
      Clockwork Droid: We do not require your feet.
      (The droid's saw comes out and it advances on her)
      Reinette: You think I fear you? But I do not fear you even now. You are merely the nightmare of my childhood. The monster from under my bed. And if my nightmare can return to plague me then, rest assured, so will yours.

    • (The Doctor returns from a party, apparently drunk, to find the clockwork droids looking at Rose and Mickey strapped to tables.)
      The Doctor: Have you met the French? My God, they know how to party.
      Rose: Oh, look at what the cat dragged in. The Oncoming Storm.
      The Doctor: Ooh, you sound just like your mother.
      Rose: What have you been doing? Where have you been?
      The Doctor: Well, among other things, I think I just invented the banana daiquiri a couple of centuries early.

    • (The Doctor is reading Reinette's mind)
      Reinette: Oh, such a lonely childhood.
      The Doctor: It'll pass. Stay with me.
      Reinette: Oh, Doctor. So lonely. So very very alone.
      The Doctor: What do you mean alone? You've never been alone in your life… when did you start calling me Doctor?
      Reinette: Such a lonely little boy. Lonely then and lonelier now. How can you bear it?
      The Doctor: How did you do that?
      Reinette: A door, once opened, may be stepped through in either direction. Oh, Doctor. My lonely Doctor. Dance with me.

    • (The Doctor is reading Reinette's mind)
      The Doctor: What age are you?
      Reinette: So impertinent a question so early in the conversation. How promising.

    • Rose: You okay?
      Reinette: No. I'm very afraid. But you and I both know, don't we, Rose, the Doctor is worth the monsters.

    • Rose: He'll be there when you need him. That's the way it's gotta be.
      Reinette: That's the way it's always been. The monsters and the Doctor. It seems you cannot have one without the other.
      Rose: Tell me about it. The thing is, you weren't supposed to have either. Those creatures are messing with history. None of this was ever supposed to happen to you.
      Reinette: Supposed to happen? What does that mean? It happened, child, and I would not have it any other way. One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel.

    • Reinette: It is customary, I think, to have an imaginary friend only during one's childhood. You are to be congratulated on your persistence.
      The Doctor: Reinette. Well, goodness, how you've grown.
      Reinette: And you do not appear to have aged a single day. That is tremendously impolite of you.
      The Doctor: Right, yes, sorry. Listen. Lovely to catch up, but, uh, better be off, eh? Don't want your mother finding you up here with a strange man, do we?
      Reinette: Strange? How could you be a stranger to me? I've known you since I was seven years old.
      The Doctor: Yeah, I suppose you have. Ha. I came the quick route.
      Reinette: You seem to be flesh and blood at any rate, but this is absurd. Reason tells me you cannot be real.
      The Doctor: Oh, you never wanna listen to reason.

    • Rose: It's kind of abandoned.. Anyone on board?
      The Doctor: Nah.... Nothing here--Well, nothing dangerous- WELL. Not that dangerous. Know what, just have a quick scan in case of anything dangerous.

    • Young Reinette: Monsieur, what are you doing in my fireplace?
      The Doctor: Oh, it's just a routine... fire check. Can you tell me what year it is?
      Young Reinette: Of course I can. Seventeen hundred and twenty seven.
      The Doctor: Right, lovely. One of my favorites. August is rubbish though. Stay indoors. Okay, that's all for now. Thanks for your help. Hope you enjoy the rest of the fire. Night night.
      Young Reinette: Good night, Monsieur.

    • The Doctor: Rose, take Mickey n' Arthur, get after it, follow it, don't approach it, just watch what it does.
      Rose: Arthur?
      The Doctor: Good name for a horse.
      Rose: No, you're not keepin' the horse.
      The Doctor: I let you keep Mickey. Now, go! Go! Go!

    • Mickey: What's a horse doin' on a spaceship?
      The Doctor: Mickey, what's pre-revolutionary France doing on a spaceship? Get a little perspective!

    • The Doctor: Space-age clock-work, I love it! I've got chills! Listen, seriously, I mean this from the heart, and by the way, count those. It would be a crime, it would be an act of vandalism to dismantle you. But that won't stop me.

    • The Doctor: Must be a spatial temporal hyperlink.
      Mickey: What's that?
      The Doctor: No idea. Just made it up. Didn't want to say 'magic door'.

    • Mickey: Huh! So that Doctor eh!
      Rose: What are you talking about?
      Mickey: Well! Madame De Pompadour, Sarah Jane Smith, Cleopatra!
      Rose: Oh, Cleopatra he mentioned her once.
      Mickey: Yeah, but he called her Cleo.

    • Rose: Who is she?
      The Doctor: Jeanne-Antionette Poisson. Known to her friends as Reinette. Most accomplished woman that ever lived.
      Rose: So she got plans for being the queen then.
      The Doctor: No, they already got a queen. She got plans for being his mistress.
      Rose: Oooh. I get it. Camilla.

    • Reinette: Doctor. Doctor who? It's more than just a secret isn't it?
      The Doctor: What did you see?
      Reinette: That there comes a time, Time Lord, when every lonely little boy must learn how to dance.

    • The Doctor: Madame de Pompadour. You look younger everyday.
      King Louis: What the hell is going on?
      Reinette: Oh. This is my lover. The King of France.
      The Doctor: Yeah? Well I'm the Lord of Time. (Walks towards the clockwork droids) And I'm here to fix the clock.

    • Young Reinette: Monsieur, be careful!
      The Doctor: Just a nightmare, Reinette, don't worry about it. Everyone has nightmares. (backing off from the clockwork droid) Even monsters under the bed have nightmares, don't you, monster?
      (clockwork droid's weapon got stuck on the fireplace)
      Young Reinette: What do monsters have nightmares about?
      The Doctor: Me! Ha!

    • Manservant: Who the hell are you?
      The Doctor: (laughing) I'm the Doctor. And I just snogged Madame de Pompadour!

  • NOTES (11)

    • International Airdates:
      Turkey: July 31, 2011 on CNBC-e

    • One character omitted from The Girl In The Fireplace in editing was Arthur's owner, a 'Choleric Man' played by Phylip Harries who threatens to whip the horse for running off.

    • Steven Moffat stated that the line from the Doctor claiming that he is what monsters have nightmares about was lifted directly from Paul Cornell's 1992 Doctor Who: The New Adventures novel Love And War.

    • This episode won "Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form" in the 2007 Hugo Awards.

    • In a Production Notes column for Doctor Who Magazine #363, 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.

    • 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.

    • Two horses were required for the episode, Bolero and Arthur. Arthur is a jumper while Bolero is an actor.

    • David didn't know that, while he had his eyes shut to read Reinette's mind, Sophia had hers wide open.

    • The final viewing figure for the BBC One airing of this episode was 7.90 million.

    • Steven Moffat, the writer, was unaware of the Torchwood theme running through this series, so there is no reference in this episode. This is the first time there hasn't been one since New Earth.

      Having said that, it would be difficult to insert a reference in context, as at that point in time (18th Century) Torchwood had not been created, and none of the guest characters were aware of the Institute.

    • David Tennant and Sophia Myles were actually dating in real life when this was filmed.


    • Mickey: Are you looking at me?

      Mickey acting as the tough guy echoes the famous phrase uttered by Robert De Niro in the 1976 film 'Taxi Driver'.

    • Doctor (singing): I could have danced all night...

      After attending the Yew Ball with Reinette (Madame de Pompadour) the Doctor channels Julie Andrews' performance as Eliza Doolittle from the musical My Fair Lady by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Lowe (1956). Both The Doctor and Eliza sing the song upon returning from a ball that was far more delightful than expected and opened their eyes to the love of another person.