The action starts in a mortuary where a dead woman gets possessed by a ghost and comes back alive. The undertaker's attempt to keep her in the coffin fails and the woman gets up and walks out.
The Doctor had promised that he would take Rose Tyler to 1860 London but when the Tardis arrives, The Doctor discovers that he's arrive in 1869 Cardiff. Once Rose gets a change of clothes, they exit the Tardis and vist a theatre where the great Charles Dickens is performing. Charles performance is interrupted by the dead woman and a ghost coming out of her and going to the gas lamp.
Whilst the Doctor talks to Charles Dickens, Rose goes outside does some investigating. During Rose's investigation, Rose is drugged by the undertaker who had come to claim the dead woman's body and is taken away. The Doctor comes out of the theatre and climbs into a horse drawn taxi and requests that they follow the hearse. The chase doesn't begin until Charles gets into the taxi then they follow the hearse.
The Doctor knocks on the door of where Rose was taken and tries to locate his companion, Rose. The Doctor breaks into the room to save Rose.
The Doctor discovers the apparitions and decides that they must do a seance in the hope of communicating with the apparitions through Gwyneth. Gwyneth is the house maid who was played by Eva Myles who went on to play Gwen Cooper, a different character in Torchwood, the adult spin-off of Doctor Who.
The apparitions call themselves the Gelf and they need to come through to our world because their world is dead. They can inhabit the bodies of the dead. Gwyneth agrees to be a vessel in which to go through and the portal is opened in the mortuary. The Gelf turn out to want to conquer the world.
As a number of bodies are inhabited by the Gelf, Charles Dickens runs off whilst the Doctor and Rose barricade themselves in a cell to prevent the undead from getting to them.
Charles Dickens returns with a plan to save the day by turning on all the gas which will suck the apparitions out of the bodies allowing the Doctor to escape. Gwyneth volunteers to blow up the place once everyone is out. Once the Doctor is out, Gwyneth lights a fuse and blows up the place.
Charles has an idea for a new story as the Doctor and Rose depart in the Tardis. The Doctor tells Rose that Charles died in the following year and no apparition story was ever written except what we know of today.