Masterpiece Classic (1971– )
20 user 2 critic

The Ruby in the Smoke 

In Victorian England, Sally Lockhart receives an anonymous note sending her on a mysterious quest. Her father has recently died and feeling suffocated living with her elderly aunt moves in ... See full summary »


Brian Percival


Adrian Hodges (screenplay), Philip Pullman (novel)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Billie Piper ... Sally Lockhart
Matt Smith ... Jim Taylor
Sian Thomas ... Mrs. Rees
Kay Lyon Kay Lyon ... Ellen
Robert Putt Robert Putt ... Porter
Trevor Cooper ... Mr. Higgs
Robert Glenister ... Samuel Selby
Dominic Coleman ... Jeremiah Blyth
Miles Anderson ... Major Marchbanks
Tilly Vosburgh Tilly Vosburgh ... Mrs. Thorpe
Chloe Walker Chloe Walker ... Adelaide
Julie Walters ... Mrs. Holland
JJ Feild ... Frederick Garland
Ramon Tikaram ... Maharajah
Matthew Cureton Matthew Cureton ... Young Marchbanks


In Victorian England, Sally Lockhart receives an anonymous note sending her on a mysterious quest. Her father has recently died and feeling suffocated living with her elderly aunt moves in with newfound friends, a photographer and his sister. She is soon made aware that the mysterious Mrs. Holland is out to kill her. In the end, she realizes the solution to the mystery is rooted in events that occurred long ago when she lived with her father in India and a recurring dream she has had ever since. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »


Drama | Romance



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Release Date:

4 February 2007 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


[Mr Berry has just stolen the clue to the treasure from Sally]
Mrs. Holland: Oooh, Mr Berry. This calls for a celebration. There's gin in the cupboard.
Mr Berry: I signed the Pledge in Dartmoor, Mrs Holland. Alcohol is the cause of madness, hallucinations, softness of the brain and moral decay.
Mrs. Holland: I think the damage is already done in your case.
Mr Berry: Yeah, I was *formerly* very wicked - but I intend to lead a good life from now on.
Mrs. Holland: Always excepting the odd murder or two.
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Followed by The Ruby in the Smoke (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

A bit disappointing
27 December 2006 | by indigoharmonySee all my reviews

I haven't read "The Ruby in the Smoke" which probably explains my reaction to this film. Anyway, for the other uninitiated amongst you, this is the basic plot - young Sally Lockhart (Billie Piper) is living with her aunt after her father's ship sank. It turns out there is more to this death than it seems, as Sally receives a cryptic note, eventually leading her to a man named Marchbanks who gives her a notebook and tells her she has an enemy called Mrs Holland (Julie Walters, at her villainous best). This leads Sally through a maze of clues and memories, finding out the fate of her father and the truth of her own origins, and the truth of the elusive eponymous ruby.

I feel this would have done very well as a television series, but as a film it merely felt rushed. The characters introduced promised to be interesting, but weren't really properly developed, and I had trouble keeping up with all the twists in the plot, which were rushed by in seconds. Sally seemed like a fascinating character, but her character development was left to a few scenes of her standing up to her aunt and demonstrating her ability for dealing with figures. This left the film feeling somewhat sterile - more of a puzzle than a story.

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