Vincent and the Doctor
|Season 5, Episode 10|
|Airdate: 5 June 2010|
|Writer: Jonny Campbell|
|Director: Richard Curtis|
|Notable for: Richard Curtis wrote the scripts for Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Notting Hill, and Love Actually (which he also directed).|
Vincent and the Doctor
This is a huge testament to the main cast that they can portray a wide range of emotions extremely convincingly. But then you would expect that from leading actors Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, so what’s more impressive is the casting of Tony Curran as Vincent Van Gogh. What a stoke of luck that the Doctor Who production team were able to hire an actor who looked like a dead ringer for Van Gogh and who can act his socks off…
Full credit must go to writer Richard Curtis, of whose vast body of work I am not that familiar with outside of Blackadder. But just like Steven Moffat before him, his Doctor Who work proved to me that a good writer is a good writer. Pitching a Doctor Who story of an impressionist painter with depression and actually making it all the way to filming on that idea shows true conviction by the artist and his work. Which parallels nicely with Vincent Van Gogh. He knew his pieces were worthy; otherwise he would not have continued painting and trying to sell them. – Kasterborous
"Vincent and the Doctor" is an absolutely lovely episode of Doctor Who – simple, kind, and bittersweet–featuring an extremely moving performance by Tony Curran as the greatest painter to ever live and an uncredited cameo by the great Bill Nighy as a museum curator. What it lacks in plotting complexity, it makes up for in characterization and sheer artistry. For example, the scene in which Amy and the Doctor lie on the ground in a circle with Van Gogh and look up at the sky, in order to discover the colors and patterns that make up the world that otherwise only he can see, their shared view bursting into the dazzling colors and swirls of "Starry Night," is one of the most profound and beautiful moments in the new series’ history, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this were true for the entire span of Doctor Who. Meanwhile, the sets, which recreate landmarks of Van Gogh’s life depicted in some of his most famous paintings, are lovingly detailed and beautifully executed. – Rob Will Review
""Is it too much?" asks the Doctor, voicing the fear of anyone with an instinctive dread of Richard Curtis’ penchant for the emotional blitzkrieg. And yes, perhaps Bill Nighy’s closing hymn to Vincent is an unnecessary extra assault on the tearducts in a scene already firmly squeezing your heart. But no matter – this is a genuinely magical episode of Who, high on atmosphere (the cobbled, monster-bothered night-streets of Provence) and bursting with charm (just watch Smith and Nighy bonding over their bow-ties, all Four Weddings English awkwardness). It’s reliably witty, of course – Curtis’ Doctor is a riot, whether namedropping that "ghastly old goat" Picasso or lamenting, "Is this really how time passes? Really slowly, in the right order?" – but there’s a striking note of melancholy, too. The Doctor’s revelation that Vincent will shortly take his own life casts a shadow the episode never escapes, but it’s a shadow that gives the redemptive ending in the Musee d’Orsay its heart-clenching power. A word of praise for director Jonny Campbell, too: the gorgeous shot of Amy in the garden with the sunflowers deserves to be framed. And he makes van Gogh a gunslinger as he prepares to face the monster, silhouetted like a Leone hero in hat and coat and reaching for his trusty brushes… Lovely touch. – SFX
Roaming around the Musée d’Orsay, Amy and the Doctor spy a mysterious, evil face in Van Gogh’s The Church at Auvers and decide to pay the painter a visit in Provence. In the end, what we got from Curtis was a beautifully crafted love-letter to Van Gogh and a slightly naff monster-of-the-week run-around. Where ‘Vincent and the Doctor’ worked was in its sympathetic portrayal of the painter, tackling Van Gogh’s later life with respect and reverence. If there’s one thing to absolutely applaud, it’s the way the episode never balked at exploring the effects of mental illness – particularly brave given Doctor Who’s usually fluffy family exterior. We got insight into his situation and its impact on Van Gogh as an artist. Consider us slightly more educated. – IGN
As fans well know, the original concept for Doctor Who first hatched in 1962 and realised in ‘63, was as an educational show for children. Doctor Who, to some extent, was envisaged as a platform to transport young minds through history – albeit wrapped in family-friendly sci-fi tin foil.
More than any other episode of the re-incarnated Time Lord’s adventures since 2005, Vincent And The Doctor is true to that early inspiration. How I love it for that, for its wide-eyed wonder and unashamedly emotional, sentimental, dénouement.
The historical, educational bent is not the only thing about the episode that will conjure up memories of a few of The Doctor’s earlier personas, though. – Den of Geek