The Girl in the Fireplace – Episode Guide


In the court of Versailles the dignitary of France are running for their lives. Chased by an unseen pursuer the masked entourage tear down the corridors of the palace. In one of the rooms of the court King Louis XV is warning his mistress Madame de Pompadour that they are under attack by inhuman creatures that can’t be stopped.

Madame de Pompadour however is more concerned with the clock on the mantle, which stands with its face cracked. She states that the clock is broken, he is coming. Louis rants in disbelief but she turns to him, and tells him that a man is coming to Versailles, a man who has watched over her her entire life and he will not let her down now. Louis asks exactly who this man is and she explains that he is the only other man apart from him she has ever loved. He glares at her but she stops him before he can speak. She tells him to go to his queen and then turns to the fireplace below the mantle, staring into the flames.

She calls out, asking if the man is there and if he is listening. She explains the clock is broken; it is time. He promised. She calls out to him again. She calls out to the Doctor…

It is three thousand years later and on a giant spaceship floating amongst the stars the TARDIS fades into view. The Doctor, Mickey and Rose step outside and look at the decaying computer banks around them, wires pouring out onto the floor. Mickey realises where he is and marvels at getting to land on a spaceship on his first trip.

Rose observes that the ship must have been abandoned and asks if there is anyone onboard. The Doctor explains there is nothing too dangerous around but then decides to go off to check.

Rose asks when about in time they are and the Time Lord explains they are three thousand years into her future, in the 51st Century. He activates an observation hatch and above them the ceiling parts to reveal a host of stars. He identifies it as the Dagmar Cluster and tells Mickey he is a long way from home, two and a half galaxies to be precise. He turns to one of the computer banks and searches through the tangle of wires and components as Mickey and Rose look out of another observation hatch, the new companion marvelling at how realistic everything looks.

The Doctor continues to search through the computer banks and sighs at the state of the cowboy-botched patchwork that holds them together. He then realises that all of the warp engines are running at full capacity, generating enough energy to punch a hole in the universe, yet the ship remains stationary. He ponders where all the power is going and Rose joins him, asking where all the crew have gone. He checks the computers and finds no traces of life onboard.

He sniffs the air and asks if his companions can smell anything. They can, Rose exclaims that something is cooking and Mickey identifies it as Sunday roast.

Before they can continue a door slides open before them, revealing a mantle with a fire beneath. The Doctor inspects it and realises it is a genuine 18th Century fireplace, with another room beyond it. Rose explains there can’t be another room as from the observation hatch; all that can be seen is the outer hull of the ship.

Suddenly a small girl’s voice rings out from the room beyond. The Doctor talks to her and she introduces herself as Reinette. He asks where she is and she replies, somewhat confused, that she is in her bedroom in Paris. She asks what the Doctor is doing in her fireplace and he bluffs that he is conducting a regulation fire check. He asks her what year it is and she explains that it is 1727. The Doctor comments on how 1727 is one of his favourite years, but warns her to stay indoors during August. He bids her goodnight and turns back to Rose and Mickey, explaining that the fireplace is the hole in the universe that the ship is generating.

Rose, in slight disbelief, again marvels that on the other side of the fire is 18th Century France and the Doctor confirms that Reinette was speaking French. Mickey marvels as Rose explains that the TARDIS translation circuits are allowing him to here her.

Meanwhile, the Doctor has returned to the fireplace and as Rose and Mickey watch him, he activates a hidden mechanism and the mantle swings round, only to reveal an identical one on the other side.

In Reinette’s room the Doctor looks out at the night sky, covering the landscape of Paris. As Reinette stirs from her sleep he introduces himself as the fireplace man but she maintains that the last time they spoke was months ago. He taps on the mantle and realises there must be a loose connection. Reinette asks who he is and why he is in her room but he is more interested in the broken clock that sits on the mantle. Slightly confused Reinette asks what is the matter and he explains that even though the clock is broken, there is still a loud ticking noise ringing around the room.

He realises it is not a clock; it’s far to big. It must be at least six foot tall. He realises that it must be hiding somewhere in the room, having broken the clock itself to stop anyone hearing it. He slowly walks to the bed and tells Reinette not to get out. He kneels down and stares at the dark space beneath.

Suddenly he is attacked by a metal arm and he reels back. He stares again underneath the bed to find a pair of legs standing on the other side. He warns Reinette not to look around whilst he stands up, to see a masked figure, in full authentic dress, awaiting him. He leans forward and clutches Reinette’s head, realising the creature has scanned her brain, but doesn’t realise what for. Reinette explains she doesn’t understand why it wants her and asks it. It merely states that she is not ready it wants her and asks it. It merely states that it does but not yet. She is incomplete.

The Doctor asks what ‘incomplete’ means but it does not reply. He asks again, raising the sonic screwdriver but instead of answering the creature raises its bladed arm and advances on him. Reinette warns him to be careful but he shrugs off the situation as a nightmare. Everyone has nightmares, even the monster under her bed. The creature brings down his arm as it backs the Doctor over to the fireplace but misses the Time Lord and gets stuck on the mantle. Reinette asks what monsters have nightmares about and as he activates the fireplace, causing it to turn around again, he calls out “me”.

Back on the ship, Rose and Mickey are waiting. They realise the Doctor is in trouble but he has a plan. He runs over to the wall and dislodges what appears to be a weapon. He fires it and a cloud of smoke issues out, engulfing and freezing the masked monster. He passes the gun to Rose and explains it is a fire extinguisher and then turns to the frozen creature.

He leans forward and takes off its mask and wig, revealing a glass globe full of clockwork mechanisms ticking away. He marvels at the intricate workings and claims it would be a crime to deface it; but that won’t stop him. However, as he takes out his sonic screwdriver the robot activates an inbuilt teleport and beams away.

The Doctor realises it could still be onboard and warns Rose and Mickey not to go looking for it, before returning to the fireplace and activating the mechanism, disappearing from sight. Once he has gone Rose inspects the fire extinguisher. Mickey realises what she is implying and reminds her what the Doctor said, before coming round to her way of thinking and running to the opposite wall, picking up his own fire extinguisher. She explains he is getting the hang of being on the TARDIS crew and together they run off excitedly.

In Reinette’s room it is now daytime as the Doctor walks around calling her name. He plucks at her harp in the corner before turning to see a young woman looking at him. He asks if the room still belongs to Reinette but before she can reply her mother calls out to her to join her outside, calling her by the name Reinette. She calls back that she will be there soon before turning to the Doctor who has realised whose presence he is in.

She congratulates him for his persistence; she had assumed imaginary friends only existed during childhood. He marvels at how much she has grown but she is not amused, he has not aged at all since they last met, which is incredibly rude. He apologises and makes notice to leave, but she instead touches the side of his face, pondering that although he is made of flesh and blood, reason tells her he cannot be real.

Another voice calls for her to leave but she protests. She turns back to the Doctor and kisses him passionately. The voice rings out again, calling for Mademoiselle Poisson and she is forced to let the Time Lord go, before running off to join her mother. As the Doctor stands somewhat confused, the body of the second voice enters the room. He looks at the Doctor, who has realised that Reinette Poisson is in fact Madame de Pompadour and begins to get excited, praising her as the uncrowned queen of France. He returns to the fireplace and the man who has just entered asks who he is. The Doctor replies. He is the Doctor and he’s just snogged Madame de Pompadour. He activates the mechanism on the mantle and swings away, back into the spaceship.

There he realises that his friends have wondered off and angrily comments that there could be anything on the ship, before turning down a corridor to find a large white horse waiting for him.

In another corridor somewhere on the ship Mickey is creeping around rolling on the floor like a commando and putting on a posh accent. He is seen by a security camera, which he and the recently arrived Rose realise is actually a human eye mounted on a metal stalk. Rose hears a rhythmic beating coming from inside one of the walls and slowly removes one of the service hatches. Inside the two travellers look on, realising that wired into the computer is a human heart.

Elsewhere the Doctor is looking for his friends, whilst being pursued by the horse. He finds an ornate door way and realises this is where the horse came aboard. He opens them up and finds himself in the grounds of the Court of Versailles. On the lawn Reinette and her friend Catherine are walking together, talking of the illness of the King’s mistress and joking about how concerned they are. Catherine talks of the next mistress and hints at Reinette’s ambitions in life involving the queen, but the young women is more concerned she is being watched and sure enough the Doctor is hiding behind a stone urn, watching her walk off into the distance.

Back on the ship Mickey and Rose are still talking about the heart in the wall and stumble across a window displaying another room in the court of Versailles. Rose realises they are standing behind a mirror and observes as a man walks in with his aides. Mickey asks who he thinks he is and the Doctor appears behind him, explaining he is the king of France.

Rose asks what he has been up to and he explains he has become the imaginary friend of a future French aristocrat, picked a fight with a clockwork man and met a horse, which clops into place behind him. Mickey asks what the creature is doing on the ship but the Doctor retorts, asking what pre-revolutionary France is doing on the ship, telling him to get s little perspective. He explains the gateways are all over the ship, and are all centred around Reinette. The ship is stalking her.

They look on as Reinette enters and begins to talk to Louis, who exits the room leaving Reinette alone to check her reflection in the two-way mirror. The Doctor looks on at the room’s broken clock and listens to the continuing ticking. Across the room Reinette sees another woman standing with her back to her. She asks how long she has been standing there and tells her to show herself. She does so and turns, revealing herself to be another of the clockwork robots.

The Doctor takes Mickey’s fire extinguisher and pushes the mirror aside, greeting Reinette before attacking the clockwork figure. He passes the gun back but the robot has turned itself back on again, melting the ice. It raises its weapon and stares at the group. The Doctor asks who it is, to identify itself but it does not respond. He asks Reinette to ask the same question, the other robot responded to her as a child so this one could be the same. She orders the robot to answer any question asked to it. It lowers its gun and explains it is Repair Droid 7. The Doctor asks what has happened to the ship. The robot replies that there was an 82% systems failure and that they did not the parts to repair the damage.

The Doctor then asks what has happened to the crew but the robot continues to state that they did not have the parts to every question he asks until he realises that the droids did not have the mechanical parts they required so they used the crew instead. Rose explains the eyestalk and the heart they saw earlier and the Doctor explains that the droids were programmed to repair the ship with whatever they could find. The cooking they could smell earlier was a human barbeque. He asks why the droids broke into 18th Century France and not simply return to their repair yard and the robot replies by stating that one more part is required to repair the ship and Reinette is that part. The Doctor asks why they have not taken her yet but the droid maintains she is not yet complete. He realises they will continue to open up time windows and keep scanning her brain until she is complete.

Rose chirps in and asks why Reinette in particular was chosen and the droid replies that she and the other droids are the same. Reinette asks why but the robot merely repeats itself. She orders it to leave and sure enough it teleports away. Worried, the Doctor tells Rose to take Mickey and Arthur and follow the droid but not to approach it, just watch what it does. She asks who Arthur is and he explains it is a good name for a horse. She moans, explaining he can’t keep it and he protests, claiming he lets her keep Mickey, before ushering them back into the ship and closing the mirror up again.

He asks Reinette to trust him. He has to find out what the droids are after and links his mind to hers. He realises he is not the first; the cowboy repair droids have already been inside.

In one of the ship’s corridors Mickey taunts Rose about the Doctor’s relationship with Reinette and recalls his past loves including Sarah Jane and Cleopatra. Although Rose dismisses the last women, claiming the Time Lord only mentioned her once, Mickey explains that when he did he called her ‘Cleo’.

Suddenly they are ambushed by two of the clockwork droids, who grab hold of them and extend their weapon arms. They draw needle-like extensions and plunge them into their prisoner’s necks.

Back in Versailles the Doctor warns Reinette to imagine a door in the way of thoughts she doesn’t wish him to look at so he will know not to look. She marvels at his telepathic abilities as he tries to search for what the droids are looking for and why Reinette is not yet old enough to serve their purpose.

However, things begin to backfire and Reinette begins to read his thoughts, and sees his memories of a lonely childhood. She learns his name, the Doctor and begins to realise how lonely he is now, even more so than in his childhood. The Doctor reels back, severing the link and asks how she managed to read his mind. She explains that a door once opened can be stepped through either way. She asks the Doctor to dance with her but he maintains that this is the night she dances with the King, yet she persists; she shall first make the monarch jealous. Again she ponders his name, Doctor who? She realises it is more than just a secret. He asks what she saw in his mind and she replies that she saw that there is a time when every lonely little boy must learn how to dance. They look into each other’s eyes and she leads him away, out of the room.

Back on the ship Rose and Mickey have been strapped to operating tables. Rose awakens and calls out for the Doctor. Mickey also awakens and realises that the droids are about to chop them up. He asks where her precious Doctor is now as one of the droids states that the two of them are compatible. She begins to disagree, claiming they did not come alone and the robots will not want to mess with their designated driver. The droid extends his cutting arm and Rose continues to talk, asking if he has ever heard of the Daleks. She explains that their had a name for their friend. They called him the…

Before she can continue a screeching song comes riding into the room, followed by the Doctor, who is now wearing some dark glasses, has his tie fastened around his head and is carrying a glass of wine. He sings out loud before dizzily asking if his friends have ever met the French, claiming that they know how to party. Rose sighs and snipes to look what the cat dragged in; the oncoming storm. The Doctor claims she sounds just like her mother but she continues to ask where he has been and what he has been doing.

He explains that he thinks he has invented the banana dakery a few hundred years early and explains to her that you should always take a banana to a party, bananas are good. He turns to one of the droids and slurs that he’s his favourite, because he’s so thick. He explains that the droids were scanning Reinette’s mind to check her age. The ship is thirty-seven years old and the robots believe that when Reinette is thirty-seven years old her brain will be compatible with the ship’s command circuit. Why only Madame de Pompadour’s brain will do he still has no idea.

One of the droids states that her brain is compatible. The Doctor mocks him and says he needs a glass of wine. He removes his mask, tips the contents of his glass into the clockwork skull and then replaces the robot’s face. He explains the liquid was actually multi-grain anti oil and then moves to release Mickey and Rose, flicking a switch, which deactivates the other droids in the process.

Snapping out of his dizzy state he realises all of the time windows are controlled from this room. He searches for his Zeus plugs, which he was using a moment ago as castanets as Rose asks why the droids can’t simply open a window when Reinette was the right age but the Doctor explains that the ship’s damaged systems couldn’t handle it, pinpointing the 18th Century was hard enough, after that is was trial and error.

He realises that the windows won’t close and realises from a ringing sound that one of the droids is still through one of the windows with Reinette, creating an override. Suddenly the robot he covered in anti-oil expels the liquid from its system via its hand, allowing it to reactivate and then do likewise to its fellow droids. A message from the droid with Reinette is received, telling the others that the she is ready. They activate their teleports and leave; “it begins”

Back in Versailles Reinette is observing the clock in one of the rooms, finding it unbroken. She is startled as Rose enters, and claims that she does not have much time. Some time after Rose is explaining that the droids will be arriving to finally take her in five years time, at some point after her thirty-seventh birthday. In a way for her, Mickey and the Doctor it is already happening. Reinette asks that she be more exact but Rose explains there is not time. Although Reinette has five years to wait, the traveller has less than five minutes. She then asks that Rose be concise and she begins to explain that there is a spaceship filled with moments of her life. Reinette is unsettled by the idea of parts of her life lain out like chapters in a book, allowing the Doctor to walk among them without aging whilst she must age as she takes the slow path in life. She asks what can be done when the droid arrive and Rose explains they are programmed to listen to her. If she can keep them talking she can delay them, but not stop them. The Doctor has promised he will find his way there to help. Reinette takes note that the Doctor cannot deliver his promises in person, and that all her life whenever he appears the monsters appear as well. It seems you cannot have one without the other.

Rose explains that none of this was ever supposed to happen, she was never meant to meet the Doctor or the droids, they are messing in history. Reinette is confused by her terminology and explains she would not have it any other way, it is worth risking a life of demons so that one might meet an angel.

Mickey arrives calling out for Rose, explaining they have found the correct time window, right under their noses. He leads the way back but Reinette follows, making her way into the ships, despite Roses’ warnings. She hears the screams of distant beings and Mickey explains that the Doctor has fixed and audio link with the time window. Realising these screams are from her own future Reinette realises she must take the slow path to these events. She hears her own voice calling out for the Doctor to come and help, the clock on the mantle is broken. Mickey warns that he and Rose must go now but Rose turns to Reinette. She asks if she is all right but she explains she is afraid. Despite this she knows just as well as rose that the Doctor is worth the monsters. Rose watches as she makes her way back to the court and then she to leaves to find her friends.

In the court the masked entourage are being chased down corridors by the droids. They scream as they draw their weapons ready to attack. Madame de Pompadour and King Louis XV are in a chamber, Reinette calling out to the Doctor. Louis explains that they must leave and she rises from the fireplace, as three of the droids enter. She is complete. She will come.

Back on the ship Rose arrives near to where the TARDIS landed to find the Doctor and Mickey looking through the time window, down onto the main hall. The droids have already anticipated the Doctor’s arrival and sealed the window shut.

The droids are leading Reinette and Louis away to the main hall. The teleport has limited range; they must be near to the window in order to return to the ship. She comments that their words mean nothing. They are nothing.

On the ship Rose asks why they cannot use the TARDIS to get into the ballroom but the Doctor explains they cannot, they are already part of events and they cannot leave the timeline. Mickey asks why they cannot simply smash through and the Doctor explains it is too strong, they would need a truck. Rose says they must try something but the Doctor explains that if the window were smashed they would never be able to get back. If one smashes they all smash.

In the ballroom Reinette is calling for calm, reminding them they are in Versailles and they are French. She has made a decision. She will not be going with the droids. She has seen their world and she has no desire to set foot there again. Yet the droids have other ideas. They do not need her feet. They throw her to the floor and one of them approaches her with its arm drawn. She sees through them. She is not afraid of them; they are merely the nightmare of her childhood and if her nightmare can return to find her, then so can theirs.

A rhythmic beating begins to ring out and suddenly, the Doctor smashes through the giant mirror at the top of the hall riding Arthur. He has managed to break through the time window. Reinette introduces him to Louis her lover and he shrugs him off, introducing himself as the lord of time. He’s come to fit the clock. He steps up to one of the droids and takes off their mask, unveiling the clockwork mechanisms beneath. He tells it it’s over, for the both of them. He looks up at the broken mirror and comments on the phrase ‘seven years bad luck’, only this time it’s more like three thousand.

On the ship Mickey asks what has happened to the time window, which has now disappeared and how the Doctor will get back. Rose does not answer, she simply stands staring at the space before her where the time window once stood, weeping.

In Versailles the droids are attempting to teleport back to the ship but to no avail. The Doctor explains there is no point. The link is severed. They haven’t got the parts. He stares at the unmasked robot as it taps at its teleport and ponders how many ticks it has left. A day? And hour? It’s over and he’s not winding them up. Slowly the droid realises and it deactivates, it’s fellows following suit. The Doctor looks on and explains to Reinette that they have no purpose. They’ve stopped.

On the ship Mickey simply state the obvious. The Doctor is the only one who can fly the TARDIS; they have no way of getting back. Rose looks up at the stars through the observation window, and three thousand years ago; the Doctor is doing the same in Versailles.

Reinette joins him and admits that while she was in his mind she found that he knew the names of every star in the sky. He ponders exactly what meaning there is in a title, and Reinette relates his name ‘the Doctor’, before he relates hers ‘Madame de Pompadour.’ They look up again at the sky and Reinette admits she would love to look at the stars a little closer, as he has. She asks him to confirm what she suspects, that he knew that saving her would mean he could not return to his own life. He explains that he did know, but he came anyway.

She asks if there is another time window he can return by but he explains the shockwave of severing one link would sever all of them. He offers to pay for any more broken mirrors and tapestry where the windows were but she laughs it off, whilst he ponders where he will find money to live on.

She ponders that her lonely angel is also on the slow path of life now and he toasts to it, before drinking deeply from his wine glass. On the verge of tears she explains she would have enjoyed the slow path with him and when he replies, stating he isn’t going anywhere, she challenges his view and leads him away,

They arrive in her chamber, where she shows him her old fireplace, which she haad moved from Paris to Versailles many years ago with the hope that one day he would return. She asks if it will work and the Doctor admits that when she had it moved it she broke the bond with the ship and do it was offline when the link was severed, which would have saved it. However the link is basically physical and since it is still physically here and if he is very lucky…

He begins to tap away at the mantle, searching for the mechanism. He zaps it with the sonic screwdriver and thumps it with his fist. He asks her to wish him luck but she refuses, watching him leave, returning to the ship. He talks to her through the flames, asking her if she still wants to see the stars. She says she does and he tells her to pack a bag and then pick a star, any star.

She rushes away to the window as the Doctor runs back to the TARDIS where he rejoins Rose and Mickey. He returns to the fireplace and walks back into Versailles, where he meets Louis, who explains he has missed her, she will be in Paris by six o’clock. He realises that the man he is talking to is the Doctor and explains Reinette was right, it has been so many years since they last met yet he has not aged at all.

He walks to a dresser and takes out a letter. Reinette had hoped he would visit again and wrote him a letter. He hands it over before watching his loved one ride away from Versailles forever, this time laid out in a coffin.

She was only forty-three when she died, after being attacked by disease. He turns from the window and asks the Doctor what is written in the letter. He says nothing and instead places the letter inside his jacket. The King agrees, “quite right”. The Doctor walks away and soon he is back inside the TARDIS.

Rose asks again why the droids in particular wanted Madame de Pompadour’s head to repair the ship but the Doctor explains that perhaps they’ll never know, perhaps the computer got confused. He uses the TARDIS to close the time windows once and for all. Rose asks if he is all right and he claims that he is, but she sees differently. Mickey too sees that the Time Lord needs to be alone and asks Rose to show him the rest of the TARDIS. They walk away, leaving the Doctor alone.

He takes the letter from his jacket and reads it. Inside Reinette claims that she realises her time on Earth is coming to an end. Reason tells her that they shall never meet again. Yet she has seen inside his head and knows anything is possible. She shall not listen to reason. She calls for him to hurry, her days grow shorter and she is weak. She finally wishes god speed to her lonely angel, and thus bids him farewell forever. He folds up the letter and places it inside his jacket, looking at her fireplace once more on the scanner screen before taking off.

Outside the TARDIS departs, revealing a portrait of Reinette hidden behind it and outside, on the side of the ship its name is written. SS Madame De Pompadour.


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