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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Features The Ruby in the Smoke (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

A bit frantic
10 January 2007 | by steve-3171See all my reviews

First thing: I've not read the book. Comments have been seen elsewhere that Billie Piper didn't fit the character described in the books, but of course I wouldn't know. All I can say is that I've watched this movie and mostly liked what I saw.

Costumes looked believable, the sets looked OK, but budget constraints meant that camera angles seemed to be carefully constrained to keep the Victorian exterior shots looking authentic. This was evidently easier in the docks scenes (filmed mostly in Liverpool I believe?) than in the city's nicer streets.

The character acting was a bit of a problem for me. Don't get me wrong, the actors did a fine job with what they had, they just seemed to be rather shallow. You meet them, they do their stuff, they go again. Maybe this is a feature of the story being based on a children's' book (I find the same problem in the Harry Potter movies).

To compensate for this, it seemed that the whole story was rather "rushed" as if to try and inject some action to try and cover the shallow characters. There were IMHO far too many named characters introduced at breakneck speed, sometimes only to do one or two small things and then go again. I spent most of my time trying to remember who everyone was. Maybe this was just me not paying attention, but I've heard similar complaints elsewhere.

I liked the atmosphere of the whole thing, and (contrary to some opinions) thought Billie Piper in the lead role was just fine. I look forward to the next one in the series hoping for slightly fewer confusing incidental characters!

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