New Series Episode 19:
The Girl In The Fireplace


In the eighteenth century, Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV, is stalked throughout her life by sinister clockwork robots waiting for... something. Three thousand years later, the Doctor, Rose and Mickey find themselves on a derelict spaceship generating a vast amount of energy for reasons unknown. Somehow, the two mysteries are related, and only the Doctor can save Madame de Pompadour -- but at what cost to himself?


During 2004, Doctor Who executive producer Russell T Davies was also responsible for Casanova -- a three-part serial which had later inspired him to cast its star, David Tennant, as the Tenth Doctor. While carrying out research for Casanova, Davies had become enraptured by the real historical figure of Madame de Pompadour. Born Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson in 1721 and nicknamed “Reinette” as a child when a fortune teller predicted she would become mistress to the king of France, Madame de Pompadour had indeed ascended to such a role in service to King Louis XV in 1745. Her most famous nickname was derived from Pompadour, a residence purchased for her by Louis. During her time at court, Madame de Pompadour became renowned as a beautiful, intelligent and multitalented woman. She remained Louis' mistress through 1750 and continued to enjoy his friendship until her death from tuberculosis in 1764.

Davies wanted to include Madame de Pompadour in a story which also involved another item of true history: the “Turk”, a clockwork man invented by Wolfgang von Kempelen of Vienna. The Turk actually made its debut in 1770, and became highly popular because it appeared to be able to play chess against a human opponent. The Turk remained fashionable well into the nineteenth century, when it was destroyed in the Philadelphia fire of 1854; it was subsequently revealed that its chess-playing ability had been a hoax, and the Turk was actually operated from concealment by a human controller. Davies thought that the robot could be revealed to have a more sinister purpose, especially as it had made numerous appearances in the royal courts of Europe.

Steven Moffat wanted to write what was effectively a love story involving the Doctor

In early 2005, Steven Moffat was assigned to write the Madame de Pompadour/clockwork robot adventure. He had previously written The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances for the first season of the new Doctor Who series. Moffat was inspired by the emotional content with which Davies had invested that initial block of episodes; in contrast to the traditional pseudohistorical tale Davies had anticipated, Moffat wanted to write what was effectively a love story involving the Doctor. This was originally known as simply “Madame de Pompadour” and was later given such short-lived titles as “Every Tick Of My Heart”, “Reinette And The Lonely Angel” and “Loose Connection”. Moffat finally settled on The Girl In The Fireplace.

Late in the scripting process, Moffat rewrote The Girl In The Fireplace to include several new elements. This included out-of-order meetings between the Doctor and Reinette (in which she recalls seeing him at her convent school, which he later visits). Also revealed was that the “mind meld” with the Doctor is what actually attracts the clockwork robots to Reinette. Rose then offers Madame de Pompadour a gem which could erase all signs of contact with the Doctor from her mind, but she refuses because she does not want to forget him. It was eventually decided that neither of these ideas worked well, and they were discarded. Meanwhile, for the dialogue between the Doctor and the seven year-old Reinette, Moffat drew upon Father's Day writer Paul Cornell's 1992 Doctor Who: The New Adventures novel Love And War. This was the original source of the Doctor's claim that he is what monsters have nightmares about.

The Girl In The Fireplace had initially been pegged as the second story of the 2006 season, but when Davies realised how experimental it had become in Moffat's hands, he decided to shift it back to fourth in the running order between School Reunion and Rise Of The Cybermen. This move also made room for Tooth And Claw, which had been inserted in the season when The Runaway Bride had been held back to serve as the Christmas special. The Girl In The Fireplace was assigned to director Euros Lyn as part of the year's second production block, alongside Tooth And Claw.

Steven Moffat had pictured the clockwork robots as wearing wigs which hid their faces in shadow

Moffat's visual conception of the clockwork robots was altered at this stage. The writer had pictured the automata as wearing wigs which completely hid their faces in shadow. Producer Phil Collinson was concerned that this would limit camera angles too severely and risked appearing comical, so the creatures were given carnival masks to wear instead. The actual clockwork apparatus was a working prop, designed by Neill Gorton of Millennium Effects and constructed by Richard Darwen and Gustav Hoegan.

The first piece of filming conducted for The Girl In The Fireplace was the rain element for the scene in which Reinette's body is borne away from Versailles. This took place on October 6th, at HTV Studios in Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff. The other components of the shot were completed outside Tredegar House in Newport on the 12th; this was also the location for Madame de Pompadour's sitting room. Several studio days followed at the main Doctor Who space of Unit Q2 in Newport. Spanning October 13th to 19th (with the exception of the 15th and 16th), this session dealt with material on the spaceship and in Reinette's bedroom. The two sets were actually built adjacent to one another to avoid the need for camera moves when the action passed back and forth between time periods. October 20th saw cast and crew head back out on location, to Dyffryn Gardens at St Nicholas in the Vale of Glamorgan, where the outdoor sequence of the Doctor, Reinette and Katherine was taped alongside material set inside the palace at Versailles.

The next two days were spent at Ragley Hall in Alcester, Warwickshire, for scenes in the ballroom. Unfortunately, the Doctor Who team had been forbidden from bringing a horse onto the premises for fear of damaging the room's tiles, and it appeared that it would be prohibitively expensive to use special effects instead. Moffat was therefore asked to rewrite the story's climax, and came up with two alternatives: one in which the Doctor is thrown from the horse's back through the mirror (which was felt to be too humorous) and another where the Doctor simply smashes through the glass himself (while the horse is described in dialogue as having retreated to the TARDIS, where it proceeded to void its bowels). Ultimately, however, Lyn was able to amend his plans for The Girl In The Fireplace to make the original version affordable.

Ragley Hall vetoed the presence of a horse, so it looked as though the story's climax would have to be rewritten

The 24th was a second day at Dyffryn Gardens, still focussing on Versailles interiors, while the 25th marked a return to Unit Q2 for scenes on the spaceship and various pick-up shots. On October 26th, the footage of the Doctor on horseback needed for the climactic ballroom sequence was recorded at the David Broome Event Centre, situated in Mount Ballan Manor in Crick. The shot of the mirror breaking was recorded on the same day at Unit Q2, alongside part of the concluding TARDIS scene. This had originally been written for the spaceship set but moved inside the TARDIS due to time issues; it was completed on the 27th, alongside further pick-ups.

One character omitted from The Girl In The Fireplace in editing was the horse's owner, a “Choleric Man” played by Phylip Harries who threatens to whip the animal for running off. Moffat was also dismayed to discover that the key exchange between Rose and Reinette in which they discuss the Doctor and the monsters had largely been trimmed down to just a few lines. He subsequently convinced Lyn to reinsert the remainder of the dialogue. Meanwhile, the story had sparked romance between the actress playing Reinette, Sophia Myles, and David Tennant: after making The Girl In The Fireplace, the pair dated for two years until Myles moved to Los Angeles in 2007.

The 53-second TARDISode for The Girl In The Fireplace was recorded at Enfys Television Studios in Cardiff on January 31st, 2006. It depicted the crippling of the SS Madame de Pompadour in an ion storm and the clockwork robots subsequently attacking the crew. Writer Gareth Roberts intended it to be reminiscent the space operas seen in late-Seventies-era Doctor Who, as well as Blake's 7.


Original Transmission
Date 6th May 2006
Time 6.59pm
Duration 44'40"
Viewers (more) 7.9m (13th)
· BBC1 7.9m
Appreciation 84%

The Doctor
David Tennant
Rose Tyler
Billie Piper
Mickey Smith
Noel Clarke
Sophia Myles
King Louis
Ben Turner
Young Reinette
Jessica Atkins
Angel Coulby
Gareth Wyn Griffiths
Clockwork Man
Paul Kasey
Clockwork Woman
Elen Thomas
Alien Voices
Jonathan Hart
Emily Joyce

Written by
Steven Moffat
Directed by
Euros Lyn
Produced by
Phil Collinson

1st Assistant Director
Peter Bennett
2nd Assistant Director
Lynsey Muir
3rd Assistant Director
Adam Hill
Location Manager
Gareth Lloyd
Unit Manager
Rhys Griffiths
Production Co-ordinator
Jess van Niekerk
Production/Script Secretary
Claire Roberts
Production Runner
Sarah Davies
A/Production Accountants
Debi Griffiths
Kath Blackman
Bonnie Clissold
Non Eleri Hughes
Script Editor
Helen Raynor
Focus Puller
Steve Rees
John Robinson
Camera Assistant
Penny Shipton
Boom Operators
Jeff Welch
Rhydian Yeoman
Mark Hutchings
Best Boy
Peter Chester
Ailsa Berk
Stunt Co-ordinator
Dave Forman
Stunt Performer
Peter Miles
Supervising Art Director
Stephen Nicholas
Art Dept Production Manager
Jonathan Marquand Allison
Standby Art Director
Lee Gammon
A/Supervising Art Director
James North
Set Decorator
David Morison
Design Assistants
Ben Austin
Peter McKinstry
Rob Dicks
Al Roberts
Standby Props
Phill Shellard
Trystan Howell
Standby Carpenter
Silas Williams
Standby Scenic Artist
Louise Bohling
Property Master
Adrian Anscombe
Production Buyer
Joelle Rumbelow
Props Storeman
Stuart Wooddisse
Props Chargehand
Paul Aitken
Forward Dresser
Matthew North
Practical Electrician
Albert James
Art Department Driver
Martin Griffiths
Storyboard Artist
Shaun Williams
Specialist Prop Maker
Mark Cordory
Prop Maker
Penny Howarth
Construction Manager
Matthew Hywel-Davies
Construction Chargehand
Allen Jones
BBC Wales Graphics
Costume Supervisor
Anna Lau
Costume Assistants
Lindsay Bonaccorsi
Barbara Harrington
Make-Up Artists
Anwen Davies
Steve Smith
Moira Thomson
Prosthetics Supervisor
Rob Mayor
Prosthetics Technicians
Jo Glover
Martin Rezard
Special Effects Co-ordinator
Ben Ashmore
Special Effects Supervisors
Paul Kelly
Mike Crowley
Special Effects Technicians
Danny Hargreaves
Richard Magrin
Casting Associate
Andy Brierley
Assistant Editor
Ceres Doyle
Post Production Supervisors
Samantha Hall
Chris Blatchford
Post Production Co-ordinator
Marie Brown
On Line Editor
Matthew Clarke
Mick Vincent
3D Artists
Chris Petts
Matthew McKinney
2D Artists
Simon C Holden
Joseph Courtis
Russell Horth
Visual Effects Co-ordinator
Kim Phelan
Digital Matte Painter
Alex Fort
Dubbing Mixer
Tim Ricketts
Sound Editors
Paul McFadden
Doug Sinclair
Sound FX Editor
Paul Jefferies
Finance Manager
Richard Pugsley
Original Theme Music
Ron Grainer
Casting Director
Andy Pryor CDG
Production Accountant
Endaf Emyr Williams
Sound Recordist
Simon Fraser
Costume Designer
Louise Page
Make-Up Designer
Sheelagh Wells
Murray Gold
Visual Effects
The Mill
Visual FX Producer
Will Cohen
Visual FX Supervisor
Dave Houghton
Special Effects
Any Effects
Neill Gorton and
Millennium Effects
Crispin Green
Production Designer
Edward Thomas
Director of Photography
Rory Taylor
Production Manager
Marcus Prince
Associate Producer
Helen Vallis
Executive Producers
Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner

Working Titles
Madame de Pompadour
Every Tick Of My Heart
Reinette And The Lonely Angel
Loose Connection

Updated 6th July 2014