Vincent and the Doctor
First Broadcast 5th June 2010 @ 6.40pm (6.76m viewers)
It is difficult to come up with new superlatives to describe ‘Vincent and the Doctor’ as the unanimous positivity for the episode still reverberates around Doctor Who fandom. This story is not about the monster from another world. It is about a human being and his struggle with existence, one we have all shared at one time or another. The Krafayis is a bit hokey, a strange type of invisible monstrosity with a head resembling that of a chicken but actually only serves a small role in the story, occasionally a comedic one, to lift the seriousness provided by the subject matter.
For a popular family television programme to confront the theme of mental illness is a very bold decision however I can think of no better way of addressing the topic than to highlight the life of an individual affected by it and who better than Vincent Van Gogh. Many have heard of him as the artist that he cut off his own ear and would ultimately take his own life but through this story and the acting of Tony Curran his struggle is brought to life onscreen. It is a difficult journey to watch and the greatest tragedy is that the Doctor and his companion simply cannot save him. The Time Lord who has saved planets and the entire universe cannot save a human being from himself. He can however, offer him a moment of joy.
Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)
The most memorable scene is surely found when the Doctor takes Vincent to the Musée d’Orsay in 2010 so he can overhear an art expert expel the virtues of Van Gogh’s work. Firstly, the production team managed to get Bill Nighy, BILL NIGHY! He’s a film star but graced this small science fiction show with his gravitas. Secondly, the song ‘Chances’ from Athlete’s album ‘Tourist’ was selected to accompany the scene, not a piece of music composed by Murray Gold. This decision is a rarity in Doctor Who with so much music provided by Gold and as a result, this scene stands out a mile, with a unique feel unmatched in any other scene during the episode and the series as a whole. It is entirely focused on emotion and the cast deliver that emotional punch with the skill of a calligrapher and the power of a wrecking ball, reducing the viewing audience to tears.
It would also be remiss of me not to acknowledge the production team who somehow managed to capture the essence of the environments which featured in Van Gogh’s paintings such as the ‘Cafe Terrace at Night’ and the ‘Bedroom in Arles’. Tony Curran also fills the image of Van Gogh that viewers have beautifully, with some equally lovely costumes. The whole episode from the writing to the production is a magnificent piece of television, one which demonstrates the scope and depth of storytelling that only Doctor Who can deliver.
The Doctor – Matt Smith
Amy Pond – Karen Gillan
Vincent – Tony Curran
Maurice – Nik Howden
Mother- Chrissie Cotterill
Waitress – Sarah Counsell
Writer – Richard Curtis
Producer – Tracie Simpson
Producer – Patrick Schweitzer
Director – Jonny Campbell
Also First Aired On This Day…
- The Chase : Flight Through Eternity
- The Dæmons : Episode Three
- Doctor Who Confidential : A Brush with Genius