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David Tennant
The Fires of Pompeii
Tenth Doctor Logo


Synopsis


Mount Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius
 Psychic powers and stone beasts run riot in old Pompeii, but can Donna dare The Doctor to change established history?

Source: BBC DVD


General Information

Season: Thirty (New Series 4)
Production Code: 4-3
Story Number: 190 (New Series: 34)
Episode Number:740 (New Series: 44)
Number of Episodes: 1
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Production Dates: September - October 2007
Broadcast Date: 12 April 2008
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: BBC Wales (Upper Boat, Pontypridd)
Location: Cinecittà studios (Rome, Italy), Temple of Peace (Cardiff), Clearwell Caves (Coleford, Gloucestershire) and Morlais Quarry (Merthyr Tydfil).
Writer:James Moran
Director:Colin Teague
Producer:Phil Collinson
Executive Producers:Julie Gardner and Russell T Davies
Script Editor:Brian Minchin
Editor:Mike Hopkins
Production Executive:Julie Scott
Production Manager:Tracie Simpson
Production Designer:Edward Thomas
Director of Photography:Ernie Vincze BSC
Casting Director:Andy Pryor CDG
Line Producer:Guido Cerasuolo (Italy)
Costume Designer:Louise Page
Make-Up Designer:Barbara Southcott
Cameramen:Jon Vidgen (Assistant), Julian Barber (Operator) and Rory Taylor (Operator)
Incidental Music:Murray Gold
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Paul Jefferies
Sound Recordist:Julian Howarth
Sound Supervisor:Paul McFadden
Visual Effects:The Mill
Special Effects:Any Effects
Prosthetics:Millennium FX
Stunt Co-ordinator:Tom Lucy
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Murray Gold
Music Performed By: The BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: David Tennant (The Tenth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 1The Companion: Catherine Tate (Donna Noble) Additional Cast: Phil Cornwell (Stallholder), Karen Gillan (Soothsayer), Lorraine Burroughs (Thalina), Tracey Childs (Metella), Francesca Fowler (Evelina), Francois Pandolfo (Quintus), Victoria Wicks (High Priestess), Gerard Bell (Major Domo)Setting: Pompeii (79 AD) Villain: Pyrovile

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
740The Fires of Pompeii12 April 200848'13"9.0Yes

Total Duration 48 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 9.0
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2008)76.47%  (Position = 6 out of 11)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)75.50% Lower (Position = 56 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)76.09% Higher (Position = 71 out of 241)


Archives


 This story exists and is held in the BBC's Film and Videotape Library.



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Notes


"The Fires of Pompeii" is heavily based on a moral question posed to The Doctor by Donna Noble: whether to warn the population of Pompeii, or to escape from the situation by quickly departing in the TARDIS.

This story was filmed, in September 2007, at the Cinecittà studios in Rome (previously home of the BBC/HBO drama series Rome). This was the first time the majority of a Doctor Who story, since the shows revival, has been filmed abroad, and the first time the cast had filmed abroad (pick-up shots were made in New York City for "Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks") and first time since "The Two Doctors" was recorded in Seville in 1985 (Although the 1996 television movie "Doctor Who: The Movie" had been filmed in Vancouver). Cinecittà had accepted the BBC's request despite the show's small budget to promote the studios. However, ironically due to the fiery subject matter of this story, several weeks before filming started, a fire disrupted the production team but the blaze didn't affect anything needed for this story.

Actress Francesca Fowler, who plays the part of the daughter Evelina, was no stranger to the set, having appeared in an episode of Series One of Rome.

The Pyrovile were originally called Pyrovillaxians and Pyrovellians. The Pyroviles are the second magma-based/lava creatures to feature in Doctor Who. In 1979, Douglas Adams created the Krargs for the Fourth Doctor story "Shada". Sadly, due to a strike, this story was never completed. An online version, starring Paul McGann, was subsequently produced for the Doctor Who website.

The Doctor refers to the eruption as 'volcano day', a phrase also used by Captain Jack Harkness and the Ninth Doctor in "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances". The word 'volcano' comes from the Roman God Vulcan. Vulcan, the God of Fire, was worshiped every year on a day called Vulcanalia. Ironically, the actual eruption happened the day after Vulcanalia.

During this story The Doctor admits a minor responsibility for the Great Fire of Rome, which was depicted at the end of the 1965 First Doctor story "The Romans". Writer James Moran deliberately included it as a 'fun continuity thing'. Other 'Italian' stories that have been in Doctor Who is the 1976 Fourth Doctor story "The Masque of Mandragora". The Seventh Doctor also visited Pompeii during the time of the eruption in the Big Finish Productions Doctor Who audio story "The Fires of Vulcan". So in theory two incarnations of The Doctor witnessed this tragic event.

The sale of the TARDIS as 'modern art' was included as a reference to the 1979 Fourth Doctor story "City of Death".

When The Doctor calls himself Spartacus, it's the first Roman-type name he can think of. Donna then says "So am I", as a joke, referring to the film Spartacus - the scene in which everyone stands up shouting "I'm Spartacus!"

The line 'Don't worry, she's from Barcelona' was a reference to an apologetic catchphrase from Fawlty Towers, attributed by the production team to Sybil Fawlty.

Some of the character names came from the Cambridge Latin course - Caecilius, Metella and Quintus. Except Evelina - they didn't have a daughter, so writer James Moran had to add her, and pick a suitable name. In the books, the family are killed in the eruption.

The Shadow Proclamation, an intergalactic code invoked in "Rose", "The Christmas Invasion", and "Partners in Crime" is used by The Doctor when speaking to the Pyrovile.

'Praesidium Arca,' the words written on the marble TARDIS at the end of this story, means 'Committee Box'. Not just any committee though - a committee to a higher power!

The end of this story contains a trailer for the next story "Planet of the Ood".

Following on immediately after this story, on BBC3, was the second chapter of the fourth series of Doctor Who Confidential, "The Italian Job" presented by Anthony Head.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first trip in the TARDIS for companion Donna Noble played by Catherine Tate.

 The first time the majority of a Doctor Who story, since the shows revival, has been filmed abroad, and the first time the cast has filmed abroad.

 The first Doctor Who story to be written by James Moran.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
Taking in the Sights
Taking in the Sights

The Doctor and Donna Noble arrive in what The Doctor is convinced is Ancient Rome in the First Century. However, it soon becomes apparent that he is wrong. The First Century it may be. Italy yes. But after an earthquake, and the site of a very large smoking volcano towering over the town they realises that they are not in Rome: they have in fact materialised in Pompeii on 23rd August 79 - one day before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius!

Knowing the terrible fate that will soon befall Pompeii, and so the danger they are both in, The Doctor and Donna are faced with a moral dilemma: whether to escape from the situation or to stay and try to save the population of Pompeii. Donna’s instinct is to do the later. But the doctor knows that they must not tamper with established history and so, with an angry Donna in tow, he rushes back to the market place where they left the TARDIS so they can depart at the earliest opportunity. But on arrival they find that the TARDIS has disappeared. On investigation they discover that it has been sold to one Caecilius Iucundus - a marble sculptor. And so a trip to his nearby residence is in order.

There they get to meet local augur Lucius, who has come to visit Caecilius, and Caecilius' daughter Evelina – both of whom exhibit extraordinary flashes of precognition and telepathy and seem to know a lot about The Doctor being ‘A Lord of Time’ and Donna being the ‘daughter of London’. The Doctor is disturbed by their knowledge of his and Donna's lives. But he is even more concerned by Lucius' latest commission, a marble circuit board. Could there be an alien presence at work in the city?

Mount Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius

Meanwhile Donna discovers that Evelina is slowly turning into stone. Could this have something to do with the volcanic vapour that Evelina has been consuming as part of her induction to The Sybilline Sisterhood - who make prophecies but who know nothing about the impending volcanic eruption.

Unbeknown to them the volcanic rock dust, they have been breathing in, have made them become incubators for the Pyroviles - a race of giant rock-like creatures whose home planet was destroyed and who are currently inside Mount Vesuvius where they are converting the human race to become new Pyroviles.

Modern Art
Modern Art

To discover what the marble circuit breakers are for The Doctor breaks into Lucius' home and discovers that Lucius is using them to create an energy converter. The Doctor also discovers that Lucius is also turning into stone. After being accosted by Lucius, The Doctor manages to escape but is pursued by Pyrovile.

Back at Caecilius’s residence they manage to defeat the Pyrovile by throwing a bucket of water over it but in the confusion the Sisterhood kidnap Donna and take her back to their shrine. After being freed by The Doctor they both escape into the Sisterhood's hypocaust system which leads them deep into the centre of Mount Vesuvius.

The Doctor then realises why there has been no prophecies about the eruption – because there is not going to be one. However, to stop the Pyroviles The Doctor has to switch off an energy converter that the Pyroviles have been using – but in doing so this will trigger the eruption and the death of thousands of Pompeii citizens. And so The Doctor himself will be creating history – as well as causing the death of thousands!

The Soothsayer
The Soothsayer

Soon it appears that the destruction of Pompeii may not be a natural occurrence at all. Realising the dilemma they face The Doctor has no choice but to sacrifice the town and so create this tragic historic event. Using an escape capsule The Doctor and Donna manage to flee from the exploding volcano and they reach Caecilius’s residence and so the safety of the TARDIS before Pompeii is completely buried under the volcanic ash that is falling from the sky and suffocating all who remain in the town.

Donna though is distraught that they weren’t able to save even one person and so persuades The Doctor to return and at least save Caecilius and his family. They all finally end up on a hillside, overlooking Pompeii, watching its destruction.

 
Lucius Petrus Dextrus
Lucius Petrus Dextrus
Caecilius and Metella
Caecilius and Metella
The Sybilline Sisterhood
The Sybilline Sisterhood
A Pyrovile
A Pyrovile
 
The Eruption Starts
The Eruption Starts
Trying to Escape from Pompeii
Trying to Escape from Pompeii
Pompeii Burns
Pompeii Burns
Saved By The Doctor
Saved By The Doctor




Quote of the Story


 'Some things are fixed, some things are in a flux, and Pompeii is fixed... That's how I see the universe. All the time every waking second: what is, what was, what could be, what must not. That's the burden of a Time Lord, Donna.'

The Doctor



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Video
DVD
Partners in Crime - The Fires of Pompeii - Planet of the OodJune 2008BBCDVD 2605Photo-montage
Video
DVD
The Complete Fourth SeriesNovember 2008BBCDVD 2609Photo-montageBoxed set containing all 11 stories
Audio
CD
Original Television Soundtrack - Series 4October 2008SILCD1275Photo-montageMusic by Murray Gold
Video
DVD
Series 1 - 4 Box SetOctober 2009BBCDVD 3058Boxed set containing all 43 stories on 23 Discs
Video
Blu-Ray
The Complete Series 1-7 Box Set (Limited Edition)December 2013BBCBD 0242Photo-montageLimited Edition Blu-Ray boxed set containing all Series 1-7 stories at full 1080p high definition
Video
DVD
The Complete Fourth Series (2014 Re-release)August 2014BBCDVD 3968Photo-montageBoxed set containing all 11 stories
Video
DVD
The Complete David Tennant Years Box SetNovember 2014BBCDVD 4000Photo-montageBoxed set containing all 37 stories on 26 Discs
Video
Blu-Ray
The Complete Fourth Series Box SetAugust 2015BBCBD 0264Photo-montageBlu-Ray boxed set containing 11 stories
Video
Blu-Ray
The Complete Fourth Series Box Set (Limited Edition Steelbook)August 2019Photo-montageLimited Edition Blu-Ray Steelbook boxed set containing 11 stories


In Print

No Book Release
Doctor Who Magazine - PreviewIssue 394 (Released: April 2008)
Doctor Who Magazine - ReviewIssue 395 (Released: May 2008)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArticleIssue 395 (Released: May 2008)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 471 (Released: April 2014)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 558 (Released: Winter 2020)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 22 (Released: November 2009)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companion

 
David Tennant
The Tenth Doctor

   

 
Catherine Tate
Donna Noble
 
   




On Release

DVD Cover
DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Complete Series DVD Box Set
Complete Series DVD Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
Original Television Soundtrack Cover
Original Television Soundtrack Cover

BBC
AUDIO
   
Series 1-4 DVD Box Set
Series 1-4 DVD Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
Complete Series 1-7 Ltd Edition Blu-Ray Box Set
Complete Series 1-7 Ltd Edition Blu-Ray Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
Complete Series DVD Box Set<BR>(2014 Re-release)
Complete Series DVD Box Set
(2014 Re-release)

BBC
VIDEO
   
Complete David Tennant Years DVD Box Set
Complete David Tennant Years DVD Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set
Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
Complete Series Blu-Ray Limited Edition Steelbook Box Set
Complete Series Blu-Ray Limited Edition Steelbook Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
   


Magazines

Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 394
Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 394

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Review: Issue 395
Doctor Who Magazine - Review: Issue 395

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Article: Issue 395
Doctor Who Magazine - Article: Issue 395

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 471
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 471

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 558
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 558

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 22
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 22

GE Fabbri
   

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