Fires of Pompeii


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Fires of Pompeii

Series 4

Episode 2

First Transmitted

12 April 2008

Final Ratings



Series 4 set


Series 4 Volume 1


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Regular Cast

David Tennant (The Doctor), Catherine Tate (Donna)

Guest Cast
Peter Capaldi (Caecilius), Tracey Childs (Metella), Phil Davis (Lucius), Sasha Behar (Spurrina), Francesca Fowler (Evelina), Lorraine Burroughs (Thalina), Victoria Wicks (High Priestess), Fran&ccedil,ois Pandolfo (Quintus), Karen Gillan (Soothsayer), Phil Cornwell (Stallholder).


Written by James Moran
Directed by Colin Teague
Produced by Julie Garner and Phil Colinson


the Tenth Doctor tries taking Donna Noble to ancient Rome for her first trip in the TARDIS, but seems to have miscalculated. Instead of seven hills, they find a single mountain billowing smoke – Vesuvius. They’re in Pompeii, 23 August 79 AD: the day before”Volcano Day”. However, something else is horribly wrong. The Soothsayers’ predictions seem to always be correct… so why can’t they see tomorrow’s disastrous events, the eruption of Vesuvius, the death of their city?

What is blocking their perception, and will the TARDIS team be able to walk away from a fixed point in time, saving no one from certain doom? Well, Donna has something to say about that!


  • Karen Gilan played a Soothsayer, she went on to play Amy Pond
  • Twelfth Doctor Peter Calpadi was announced as the 12th Doctor on 4 August 2013. He was also Frobisher in Children of Earth
  • The Doctor mentions visiting Ancient Rome at the time of the fire that destroyed the city &ndash, which we see in The Romans.
  • a href=”10thdoctorpage”>The Tenth Doctor also visited Rome in The Stone Rose, where he also witnessed people being turned to stone.
  • Volcano Day was first mentioned by Captain Jack Harkness in The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances.
  • Creatures made of magma were seen in Shada.
  • The Seventh Doctor witnessed Pompeiis destruction in The Fires of Vulcan
  • Donna mentions The Doctor saving the world in 2008. However, it is unclear what event she is referring to.
  • One of episode writer James Moran’s favourite stories is City of Death, so there’s a deliberate reference to that when Caecilius buys the TARDIS, thinking it’s a piece of modern art. In City of Death, the TARDIS is parked in an art gallery, causing a pair of critics (John Cleese and Eleanor Bron) to discuss its artistic merits.
  • Coincidentally, City of Death was the first episode of the classic series to involve filming outside of the UK, while The Fires of Pompeii was the first episode of the series revival to have major filming done outside the UK.
  • The Pyrovile were originally called Pyrovillaxians. This was shortened to Pyrovellians, then Pyrovile.
  • Phil Cornwell (Stallholder) parodied the Ninth Doctor in a sketch for the Christmas 2005 edition of Dead Ringers (Christmas Day at Doctor Who’s).
    BBC4 broadcast three related programmes on the same evening as the original broadcast,”Earth: the Power of the Planet” (an episode about volcanoes) at 2010BST, “Pompeii: the Last Day” at 2110BST, and “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Volcanoes” (actually broadcast at 0155BST the following morning). The Radio Times listing for The Fires of Pompeii made reference to “Pompeii: the Last Day”.
  • The fountain in this story is used as the cloning vat in The Sontaran Stratagem.
  • The ‘Petrus Dextrus’ in Lucius Petrus Dextrus translates roughly to ‘stone right-hand’. This is a reference to his right arm, which had turned to stone.
  • The Doctor jokes that Donna is from Barcelona, a reference to a running gag in Fawlty Towers. The Ninth and Tenth Doctors also talked of visiting the planet Barcelona. (The Parting of the Ways and Children in Need Special)
  • The episode addresses a long-standing issue of the “gift of translation” The Doctor or the TARDISbestows upon companions. It is revealed that while The Doctor and Donna hear the Romans speaking colloquial English (with Cockney accents in some cases), the Romans hear them speaking Latin. When Donna and the Doctor actually speak Latin phrases, the Romans hear this as Celtic (as the English language hadn’t yet developed).
  • Tracey Childs (Metella) previously played Elizabeth Klein in Colditz and the Figurehead in Time Works She would later reprise her role as Klein in A Thousand Tiny Wings, Klein’s Story, Survival of the Fittest, The Architects of History, UNIT Dominion, Persuasion, Starlight Robbery and Daleks Among Us
  • The Tenth Doctor names the Shadow Proclamation, which was last mentioned in Fires of Pompeii. Also mentioned in that episode and continued here is the idea of a planet going missing.
  • The Cascade of Medusa (or rather the Medusa Cascade) was mentioned by The Master in Last of the Time Lords
  • As is routine for post-2005 Doctor Who, a “NEXT TIME” trailer for the next episode is shown at the end of the episode.

  • trailer

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