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"The Doctor is worth the monsters."
Madame de Pompadour
The Girl in the Fireplace
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Series Number: Series 2
Story Number: 171
Doctor: Tenth Doctor
Enemy: Clockwork Droids
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Euros Lyn
Producer: Phil Collinson
Broadcast: 6th May 2006
Format: 1 45-minute Episode
Prod. Code: 175
Previous Story: School Reunion
Following Story: Rise of the Cybermen



The Doctor, Rose and Mickey arrive on a spaceship in the far future and find that the Clockwork Droids who run the ship are fixated on Madame de Pompadour, a girl from the 18th century and have been opening up time windows so they can interact with her. The Doctor travels back to France through the time windows to save her, falling in love during the process.



18th century Versailles, a starry night: Panic is in the castle as people run from an unseen enemy. Madame de Pompadour (a.k.a. Reinette) stands at an 18th century fireplace with her lover, King Louis of France. Reinette explains to the King 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 the TARDIS arrives on a seemingly abandoned space ship. The Doctor discovers that as well as being in a state of disrepair the ship is generating extreme excesses of power even though the space ship 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 appears to be another room with a little girl. The girl informs the doctor that she is in her bedroom, in Paris, and that the year is 1727. When Mickey comments that the Doctor said that they were supposed to be in the 51st century, the Doctor explains that due to the large excess of power that can "punch a hole in the universe" there is a "magic door" between them in the 51st century and Reinette in 1727. When Mickey asks about how he can understand French, Rose explains that the TARDIS translates languages.

The Doctor decides to explore further and, using a switch on the fireplace, rotates the door allowing him access to Reinette's bedroom. A startled Reinette informs the Doctor that even though it has been mere seconds for him, for her it has been months since they last spoke. The Doctor then discovers that the clock in her bedroom has been broken so the ticking noise they can hear must be coming from somewhere else. He traces the noise back to Reinette's bed and has a look underneath. He is attacked by a mysterious ticking creature in period dressing. The Doctor notes that the creature has been scanning the girl's brain and asks it why, however, the creature only answers questions asked by Reinette.

He manages to trick the creature into going back through the door where he freezes it with a futuristic fire extinguisher. Removing the period dress, the Doctor discovers that the creature is in fact an android made of clockwork. It teleports away, however, before the Doctor has a chance to disassemble it. Warning Rose and Mickey not to go looking for it, he returns to Reinette's bedroom. Ignoring the Doctor, they go looking for the droid anyway.

Back in Reinette's bedroom, the Doctor discovers that the girl is now, in fact, a young lady. They share a passionate kiss before she leaves the room to join her mother in the cart. 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 discovers a horse on board the ship which has wandered in through one of the windows in history.

Meanwhile, Mickey and Rose discover 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 in history. The Doctor explains that the windows to Reinette's history are all over the ship. He also explains that Reinette plans on becoming the King's mistress as they watch her flirt with him through a mirror. Spotting a clock-work droid in the corner, the Doctor crosses through the window and freezes it again with the extinguisher. The Doctor asks Reinette to order the droid to answer his questions explaining that the droids will only do what she says. Using the droid he quickly discovers that the droids used the crew of the space ship to fix it when it broke down. This explains why Rose and Mickey saw a heart and an eye earlier. The droid then explains that they require a part of Reinette for the ship as "they are the same" however 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, having a look at her past experiences. It's not long before the Doctor realises that Reinette is also using this opportunity to have a look inside the Doctor's mind at his lonely childhood. When he questions Reinette about how she managed that, she explains that " a door once opened may be stepped through in either direction." She then invites the Doctor to dance with her at the ball.

Meanwhile, back on the ship, Mickey is taunting Rose about how many women the Doctor knows. Suddenly, Rose spots a Clockwork Droid coming up behind Mickey. She tries to warn him, but he is seized by the neck by the Driod, who injects a liquid into him, knocking him out. Rose atempts to aim her gun at the Droid, but enother one apears behind her, grabbing hold of her from behind and pulling her down backwards. Rose struggles but it will not let her up. The droid injects her with the sleep liquid, and she falls unconcioss in the droids clutches.

Rose awakens to find herself flat on her back on an operating table. To her alarm, she finds that she is strapped in place so that she cannot get up. Mickey, lying on a table next to Rose, has recieved the same treatment. The Droids, looming over them, threaten to dissect them, and Rose and Mickey try in vain to reason with the droids. They wrestle in their bonds, but 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 37 as this is the age of the space ship and that they also need her brain to replace the broken command circuit of the ship. He then pours Anti-Oil over one of the droids which causes it to stop moving. He stops the other droids from moving by using a lever from a nearby console. Finally he deactivates the tables, allowing Rose and Mickey to sit up. All three of them escape.

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

The Doctor sends Rose to warn Reinette that the droids will return to her sometime after her 37th birthday. Reinette then comments that it seems that wherever the Doctor is, monsters are too. Mickey then comes to inform Rose that the Doctor has found the correct time window. Reinette rushes through the time window 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 from following them. The Doctor then uses the horse to break through the seal ultimately breaking the connection between France and the ship. The Doctor then explains to the droids that they are no longer needed and, seeing that the Doctor is correct, they cease functioning and 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 explains that she had the fireplace moved there. 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. Before rushing back to the TARDIS, the Doctor promises Reinette through the fireplace 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 has died not so long ago. He hands the Doctor a letter that she wrote to him shortly before her death, which 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 the Doctor 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.




  • A "spatio-temporal hyperlink" is the Doctor's name for a "magic door".
  • Zeus plugs are mentioned.
  • The Doctor had earlier used a similar method to read the mind of his companion Bernice Summerfield as he does here with Reinette.
  • 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 who Mickey claims the Doctor affectionately called Cleo.
  • The Doctor once again mentions bananas.
  • Rose and Mickey discuss the fact that the Doctor spoke of Cleopatra with affection. The Doctor had previously mentioned Cleopatra to Duke Giuliano, citing one of her guardsmen as "the best swordsman I've ever seen". (DW: The Masque of Mandragora)
  • Rose also recalls the Daleks name for the Doctor ("The Oncoming Storm").
  • The Doctor sings a fragment of "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady.

Story Notes

  • This is Mickey's first trip in the TARDIS in the capacity of a companion. Despite this, his name does not appear in the opening credits; the first triple opening credit would not occur until John Barrowman returned temporarily as a companion in Utopia the next season.
  • 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 rumored 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, briefly, 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.
  • As seen in the Doctor Who Confidential episode "Script to Screen", the horse was not allowed set foot in the ballroom in the climatic 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 possible sexual implications throughout this episode.
    • Reinette asks the Doctor to 'dance', a word used by Moffatt in DW: The Doctor Dances as a euphemism for sexual activity. It is not clear how far the implication is carried.
    • 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 a possible seduction.


  • 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, with David Tennant in a French ballroom falling in love.
  • The Doctor Who Novels Love and War and The Witch Hunters. 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 Doctors relationship with Rebecca Nurse
  • The Star Trek:Deep Space 9 episode The Visitor in which Ben Sisko reappears at various points in his sons future culminating in Jake's death
  • Audrey Niffenegger's novel The Time Traveler's Wife, which describes a romance between 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.)
  • It is possible that the "magic door" is inspired by C. S. Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia
  • The plot element involving Arthur bears a resemblance to an incident in the novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, written by former Doctor Who script editor Douglas Adams. In it, a horse ends up in 20th century Cambridge after accidentally wandering into a time machine belonging to Professor Chronotis. Chronotis, in turn, was originally created by Adams for the abandoned serial Shada.


  • 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, and 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.
  • The "Doctor Who" question is raised again, when Reinette uses the phrase when she discusses his real name. This myth stems from the fact Sophia Myles originally thought Doctor Who was the character's name, until she learned from David Tennant that it isn't his name, and to phrase the statement as a question.

Filming Locations

to be added

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • The inside of the space ship can be seen before the doctor fixes the link that is "still basically physical" in Reinette's old bedroom.
  • In the beginning of the episode shown 18th century French but after that, there were shown scene of space ship and appear title saying 3000 years later. So in fact, story setting should the 48th century, not 51st century (although this is clarified when The Doctor mentions to Rose that it is about "3000 years into your future, give or take").
  • When the Doctor was reading Madame de Pompadour's mind, and she was talking about his childhood, in one scene, he had his index and middle fingers in front of her ears, but in the next shot of them, his index, middle, and ring fingers are there. He moves his fingers.
  • The behaviour of the fireplace window is quite strange. When the Doctor is talking to Reinette through the fireplace, the time in France and on the spaceship is synchronized, as it is when he is on the French side of it. However, when he's on the ship side and not talking to Reinette, time flows much faster (and at a variable rate) on the French side. Interestingly, we never see any hint of this effect with the other time windows - Reinette doesn't seem to go missing when she walks through to the spaceship. The Doctor states that there is a "loose connection" and so it's not like so many seconds to so many minutes. This would explain why Rose shouts that the Doctor would be furious if Reinette went through to the spaceship as the group don't know exactly how much time would have passed. As for the other windows not time jumping, perhaps it's only the fireplace that doesn't work properly. When people are communicating through the windows (like when the Doctor and Reinette are at the start of the episode) maybe the window recognises this and lets time flow correctly.
  • At the end of School Reunion, Rose hated the idea of Mickey being aboard the TARDIS. Here, she seems fine with the idea of him coming along, and not much time has passed in-between, as Mickey says that it's his first trip. We can assume the Doctor took Mickey and Rose back home after School Reunion, possibly to pick up clothes etc. for Mickey. Also Rose has clearly used irons on her hair to give it a wavy look so perhaps it has been a few days at the most and therefore Rose has warmed to the idea of Mickey joining them.
  • Why doesn't the TARDIS translate Reinette saying "Monsieur"? This is standard French and very nearly all English people know what Monsieur and Mademoiselle means so maybe the TARDIS recognized that Mickey and Rose didn't need this translated. Or, as later established in The Fires of Pompeii, she may have used an English word, such as "Sir" at this point, for some reason.
  • Reinette says she was seven when she met the Doctor as a child, and yet she also says that it is 1727. However, she was actually born on the 29th of December 1721, so she can't possibly be seven.  Children often round their age, records of births are not 100 per cent accurate in historical records from that time period.
  • How do the clockwork robots wire human body parts into machinery? The two examples we see have no biological systems to maintain the body parts in working condition. A lot of technological advancements can happen in 3000 years. The support systems would not necessarily be recognizable to us.
  • As Mickey asks, just what is the horse doing on the spaceship? Did it just happen to walk through one of the time windows (and, if so, why was that window left wide open for anything to walk through) and avoid being taken apart for parts by the robots, or was it already on the ship and somehow avoided being taken apart for the year since the ship was stranded, and didn't show up when the Doctor scanned for lifeforms. It is never made clear exactly when the horse walked through and it is stated that the robots needed Reinette's brain for their ship and so they could have just dismissed the horse if it wondered through after all but that one repair had been made. The Roberts kept entering at different points in her life and didn't close all of them off.
  • Why doesn't the service robots' programming prevent them from using the crew for parts? It is entirely possible that it never occurred to the crew that the robots would try to use them for parts, so they never thought to rule it out in the programming. It's also possible that in addition to the damage to the ship, the robots themselves were damaged and acted a bit outside of their normal programming, or they could just have been defective all along without anyone noticing until it was too late - perhaps they were new models without all the bugs worked out. A less likel'y but still possible explanation is that there was some sort of sabotage at work.
  • There are several scenes where the robots put their dissection tools next to a human's body, yet we never see them even attempt to use them. They are stopped in those instances, as shown in the episode.
  • Why, exactly, does being part of events mean that the Doctor can't use the TARDIS to get to France? He's used it to travel around within an adventure before - as long as he doesn't arrive before he left, he isn't breaking any kind of causality. And why - at the end - doesn't he return to pick up Reinette by using the TARDIS instead of using the fireplace? The Doctor read Reinettes letter, where she says she never got the chance to see the stars. If The Doctor went back to do so, he would've changed the past, possibly resulting in a paradox.
  • If, as the Doctor says, the fireplace window is offline when the robots attack the party then how does the audio link clearly pick up Reinette's words shouted through the fireplace, which is nowhere near the window? Especially as there is no background noise of party goers screaming in this scene. It's possible he turned off the ability to go through them but not the sound.
  • When the Doctor puts the time window back online wouldn't the robots come back online to? The robots only have short range communication with the ship and would've been out of range with the fireplace. They had recognised a lack of purpose and shut down - future technology
  • What happens to the robots after the Doctor leaves, since space age clockwork in France in the 18th century would change history? It is likely that the robots would be burned or otherwise destroyed, as the people of 18th centuray French would have been terified of the robots coming back to life.
  • Why do the Clockwork Droids need the body parts of Rose and Mickey, when they have all the parts they need except for Reinette's Brain? Maybe for spares. They have all the peices they need, that doesn't meen they wouldn't want others.The more parts you have, the better, they may also be needed but not essential to repair.
  • Why build the robots with their blades, knifes, knock out syringes or short range teleport what exactly is them point of any of them? They are repair robots so the blades and knives would have been understandable (as of use for cutting ropes and wires). The knock out syringe could have been used in the event of coming across a 'stow-away' or hi-jacker, unbeknown to the programmers that they could uses the little imagination that they had to take over the ship themselves. The short range teleport would have been useful if they were in a place of danger such as a pipe leak, if there was something that was in urgent need of attention or simply if the crew needed the robots to do something for them and get it to them in as little time as possible.
  • Why would the clockwork robots specificaly need Reinette's brain? Just because the ship had her name on the side? That seems quite unbelievable.It's established that the robots are not thinking clearly due to memory bank damage, and as such, cannot be expected to come to a logical conclusion. Maybe the ship's name caused them to believe that they needed the brain of a 37-year-old Madame de Pompadour, leading them to stalk Reinette.It was never fully established why.


  • This episode probably follows immediately after DW: School Reunion, with Mickey saying he got a spaceship on his "first go" as he exits the TARDIS with the Doctor and Rose.
  • The Doctor had previously responded to the question "What do monsters have nightmares about?" with "Me!" (NA: Love and War, The Dying Days and ST: Continuity Errors)
  • The Doctor had encountered (unrelated) clockwork robots before in NSA: The Clockwise Man and BFA: Time Works.
  • Bernice Summerfield (who is from the 26th century) used a quantum imager to recreate the life of a 20th century man, who then sees her as a ghostly figure appearing at key moments throughout his life. (BFBS: The Least Important Man)
  • The Doctor has (briefly) played the harp before in the The Five Doctors.
  • The Doctor repeats his affection for bananas.
  • Rose tells the Clockwork Droids that the Doctor is know to the Daleks as "the oncoming storm".


DVD and Other Releases

Series 2 Volume 2: DVD Cover

See also

External Links

  • Doctor Who Reference Guide - Detailed Synopsis - The Girl in the Fireplace
  • The Whoniverse - The Discontinuity Guide to: The Girl in the Fireplace
  • Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) - A Brief History of Time (Travel): The Girl in the Fireplace
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures: Story Locations - The Girl in the Fireplace
Series 2
Mini-episode: Children in Need Special  • Christmas Special: The Christmas Invasion

New Earth  • Tooth and Claw  • School Reunion  • The Girl in the Fireplace  • Rise of the Cybermen  • The Age of Steel  • The Idiot's Lantern  • The Impossible Planet  • The Satan Pit  • Love & Monsters  • Fear Her  • Army of Ghosts  • Doomsday

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at The_Girl_in_the_Fireplace. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the TARDIS Index File, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).

This article uses material from the "The Girl in the Fireplace" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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