How is a menacing masked figure in 18th-century France connected to a damaged spaceship in the 51st century?

With apologies for lateness, a review of the latest Doctor Who episode shown in the UK.

Cast and Crew

David Tennant as the Doctor
Billie Piper as Rose Tyler
Noel Clarke as Mickey Smith
Sophia Myles as Reinette
Ben Turner as King Louis
Jessica Atkins as Young Reinette
Angel Coulby as Katherine
Gareth Wyn Griffiths as Manservant
Paul Kasey as Clockwork Man
Ellen Thomas as Clockwork Woman
Jonathan Hart and Emily Joyce were the alien voices

Written by Stephen Moffat

Directed by Euros Lyn

Originally aired on the 6th of May 2006 on BBC One in the United Kingdom.


In eighteenth-century France, a party is interrupted by the attack of a strange masked figure. The hostess runs to the fireplace and calls for the Doctor — who has just arrived on an abandoned spaceship in the fifty-first century.

High Points

  • ‘It’s so realistic!’
  • ‘We did not have the parts.’
  • The mindreading scene.

Low Point

Why didn’t the Doctor remember the different rates at which time moves on each side of the fireplace?

The Scores

Robots get out of control, take a simple misunderstanding and turn it into a very large disaster. Sure, it’s been done before, but this had a nice polish to it. Four out of six for originality.

Rather nice effects this week. The spaceship looks very computer-rendered on the outside, but the space backdrops are superb, as is the clockwork. Five out of six.

Cracking story as well. A nice bit of tension, mystery and a good ending which doesn’t quite tie up everything, thus avoiding the problem of being too neat and self-contained. The pacing didn’t suffer from the episode length either; this story fit perfectly into its assigned time. Five out of six.

Once more the regular cast fail to disappoint on acting. David Tennant is really into the role of the Doctor in this episode, and seems to put in an even better performance than usual. Sophia Myles is a big name and comes with high expectations which the script allowed her to fulfil. Five out of six.

There’s some nice emotional response here, particularly relating to our glimpse into the Doctor’s mental state. Five out of six.

Lavish sets and extravagant costumes all round to recreate the royal court in pre-revolutionary France, while at the same time some dark, dingy and battered sets for a damaged spaceship in the future. Did they have two production teams for this? Five out of six.

Overall this episode is probably best of the second series so far. Six out of six, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get better…

And the grand total for The Girl in the Fireplace is out of thirty-five out of forty-two.