Behind the scenes – Doctor Who – The Girl in the Fireplace (c) BBC
Behind the scenes – Doctor Who – The Girl in the Fireplace (c) BBC

The Girl in the Fireplace

First Broadcast May 6th, 2006 @ 7.00pm (7.9m viewers)

It is no wonder this episode won a Hugo award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) in 2007. Beneath the beautiful costumes and lavish set design of 18th Century France, juxtaposed by a dilapidated 51st century spaceship, is a skilfully structured tale and actually quite a dark one. Like all good Doctor Who however the drama is interspersed by some humour, some involving an unexpected horse of all things.

Clockwork Droid and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) - Doctor Who - The Girl in the Fireplace (c) BBC
Clockwork Droid and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) – Doctor Who – The Girl in the Fireplace (c) BBC

Steven Moffat is a cruel man. Monsters hiding under the bed are the stuff of nightmares and I’m sure parents across the country were grateful for the sleepless night their children endured after this episode screened. Older children would also pick up on the horrific concept of repair droids using the crew in an attempt to fix the ailing spaceship. In another brilliant move, those droids are in fact powered by clockwork and are beautifully ornate with equally attractive period costumes. It is no wonder that when one of those costumes came up for sale at auction it reached a massive £5,000! However, perhaps the most beautiful aspect of the episode is the relationship between the Doctor and Madame de Pompadour.

Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)

The Doctor (David Tennant) – Doctor Who – The Girl in the Fireplace (c) BBC
The Doctor (David Tennant) – Doctor Who – The Girl in the Fireplace (c) BBC

It is maybe a little surprising that such a strong emotional response is felt towards a character only introduced 45 minutes previously. But the scene of the Doctor reading Reinette’s letter is truly heartbreaking. Simple in its construction, composed of one shot of the Doctor and a voiceover from Sophia Myles overlayed on top, the audience are captivated by David Tennant’s acting. There are no tears. But instead there are several lumps in his throat and a crestfallen expression, masterfully conveyed through subtlety, which decimate the viewer’s composure.

In another nice touch to this episode, the Doctor and his companions depart in the TARDIS without fully understanding why the Clockwork Droids were so determined to use Reinette’s brain for their ailing spacecraft. The viewer is given this piece of information but the fact the Doctor remains in the dark is quite refreshing. As a quest for knowledge being one of the driving forces behind his continuing travels across the universe.

Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Euros Lyn
Script Editor: Helen Raynor
Producer: Phil Collinson
Executive Producers: Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner

Cast

David Tennant – The Doctor
Billie Piper – Rose Tyler
Noel Clarke – Mickey Smith
Sophia Myles – Reinette
Ben Turner – King Louis
Jessica Atkins – Young Reinette
Angel Coulby – Katherine
Gareth Wyn Griffiths – Manservant
Paul Kasey – Clockwork Man
Ellen Thomas – Clockwork Woman

Also First Aired On This Day…

  • The Faceless Ones : Episode 5
  • The Mutants : Episode Five
  • Doctor Who Confidential : From Script to Screen

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