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 Shadow in the North (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

Very interesting and fascinating if rather rushed...
21 November 2009 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Overall, I did enjoy The Ruby in the Smoke. I confess I haven't read Phillip Pullman's book, so I can't judge how faithful or not it was. I enjoyed it, but I did feel that also it was too short and rushed and underdeveloped in places. It starts off promisingly, but then there are characters that appeared here and there and disappeared without explanation. In particular Trembler. As I said, the adaptation could have done with being at least half an hour longer, so that it was less rushed. The plot is on the whole complex, involving and fascinating, and the script was sharply observed in general as well. The music was lovely, and the adaptation was really nice to look at, with clean photography and lavish costumes. However, some of the sets didn't quite feel like the 1880s, it looked a bit too clean. Though I must say the scenery was breathtaking. The acting was impressive; while Billie Piper looked luminous and made the most of her protagonist, Sally Lockhart could have done with more character development. JJ Field, Tony Maudsley and Hayley Atwell give stellar performances and the brilliant Julie Walters is exceptional as Mrs Holland. All in all, a well done adaptation, if rather rushed, short and underdeveloped. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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