Vincent and the Doctor (TV story)

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Vincent and the Doctor was the tenth episode of series 5 of Doctor Who.

It saw the Doctor befriend another famous figure in Vincent van Gogh and explored the lead-up to his suicide.

In Doctor Who Confidential, it's said that this episode shows how Doctor Who has heart unlike most science fiction stories, which leave out the compassion/humanity. It was also the intention to introduce the concept of mental illness to a younger audience, so they could grow up with the knowledge that they needed to be patient and understanding with those who were afflicted with it. It also marked another of the few times that the Doctor was unable to save a life; although in this case, it was because Vincent was tormented by inner demons that even the Time Lord couldn't reach. "The Doctor cannot [always] save someone from [themselves]."

Along with Amy's Choice, this story neither features a crack in time, nor does it make any mention to the Silence. However, Rory's absence is alluded to, giving the episode a defined place in the season's story arc.

The episode's addressment of mental health prompted the inclusion of a BBC Action Line tag at the end of the episode upon its original broadcast.


While taking Amy to several peaceful locations, the Eleventh Doctor's trip to a museum takes turn for the worse: his interest is caught by a painting of a church by Vincent van Gogh. What troubles the Doctor is that there's a face in the church's window; it's not a nice face, it's a curious, shadowed, creepy face with a beak and nasty eyes. The Doctor knows evil when he sees it and this face is definitely evil; it may pose a threat to the one who painted it. Only one thing will calm the Doctor's nerves: a trip in the TARDIS to 1890 so he can find out from the artist himself.


The Doctor and Amy visit the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, winter 2010. They walk into the exhibit filled with the works Vincent van Gogh, who is Amy's favourite painter. She thanks the Doctor for bringing her to see the paintings, which he accepts awkwardly. Seeing the Doctor fidgety, Amy asks him why he is being so nice to her, taking her to several places she wanted to visit and other peaceful locations, such as Arcadia and the Trojan Gardens. She jokes that she's suspicious, to which he defensively snaps that he is always nice to her and that there is nothing to be suspicious about. Amy tells the Doctor that she was just joking, but wonders why he's not.

Before she can question the Doctor further, a child says, "It's the doctor," prompting them both to look behind them to see a child looking at the painting of Vincent's doctor. The child reads his guide pamphlet to a friend, explaining Vincent painted it shortly after his mental health had started getting worse.

The Doctor and Amy looking at van Gogh's painting The Church at Auvers.

Smiling, Amy resumes looking in her guidebook, spotting The Church at Auvers on the wall in front of them. They both admire the work, however the Doctor notices that something is wrong with the painting. In the windows of the church, there is an ominous face sneering. The Doctor grimly states that the face does not look friendly.

He immediately stops the curator, Dr Henry Black, in the middle of an explanation, using the psychic paper to pose as an inspector. The Doctor asks to know when The Church at Auvers was painted, asking Dr Black to be specific as possible. Dr Black tells him that it was painted between the first and the third of June 1890, one year before Van Gogh committed suicide. Complimenting Dr Black's bow tie, the Doctor grabs Amy's hand and drags her away. When Amy tells him she wants to see the rest of the paintings, the Doctor tells her that it's a matter of life and death — they need to speak to Vincent Van Gogh!

The TARDIS materialises in Auvers-sur-Oise and the Doctor and Amy begin their search for van Gogh. Finding a café featured in one of his paintings, the Doctor questions two waitresses cleaning the tables outside. They say van Gogh is a mad drunk who never pays his bills, and, when the Doctor says he's a good painter, they laugh heartily. The café owner rushes out, followed by a red-headed man trying to bargain with him. The owner exasperatedly informs him the painting is no good for a trade, given that it will frighten the other patrons; the man must either pay or leave. The customer is none other than van Gogh himself.

The Doctor offers to pay for Vincent; either for the drink or the painting, which would allow Vincent to pay for a drink. Vincent becomes defensive, insisting he can pay for his own drinks, and warns the Doctor that to buy one of his paintings would be to bring ridicule upon himself from the townspeople. He makes to resume haggling with the café owner, but before he can, Amy interjects and offers to buy a bottle of wine which she will share with whomever she chooses, to which Vincent agrees. The café owner doesn't have a problem with this, so long as the drinks are paid for.

Inside the café, the Doctor introduces himself properly. Vincent misunderstands the title and believes him a doctor sent by his brother; the Doctor explains that he's not a medical doctor. Trying to make casual conversation, the Doctor learns from Vincent that he has arrived right before he is to paint the church. Amy sees a painting that Vincent has with him and quickly corrects herself when she praises it as one of her favourite paintings. Vincent then wonders if Amy is from Holland like himself, due to her accent; Amy honestly says no, but the Doctor "corrects" her and says "yes". Vincent and Amy begin flirting but stop at a scream from outside.

In the street, they find a young girl has been brutally killed. Her mother pushes her way forward. Upon spotting Vincent, who everyone considers a madman, she takes her grief out on him, blaming him for her daughter's death. The crowd throws stones at him, and the Doctor, Amy and van Gogh leave hastily. The Doctor learns this is the second recent murder. Vincent asks the Doctor and Amy where they are staying, which the Doctor takes as an invitation to stay at Vincent's studio.

At the studio, Vincent apologises for the mess his collective works make and leads them inside. The Doctor's questions about the church begin to make Vincent suspicious, but this is soon forgotten when Amy and the Doctor to tell him that his paintings are precious. Explaining how he paints, Vincent tells them that he believes that there is so much more than what the normal eye can see. Having travelled throughout all of time and space, the Doctor says that he doesn't need to be told.

After a bit too much coffee, Vincent begins rambling on about how he hears the colours; the Doctor tries hearing for the voices of the colours as well. Vincent then explains that every time he leaves his home, he can hear the world yelling at him to capture the mysteries on canvas. The Doctor calmly tells Vincent that he has had enough coffee and offers to make some calming chamomile tea. However, he then notices that Amy is not in the room any more. A scream is heard coming from outside.

Vincent and the Doctor find Amy on the ground. She says that something attacked her while she was looking at the paintings. Vincent begins screaming in horror and backs away from them. The Doctor thinks that he is having some kind of fit as Vincent charges past them with a pitchfork. Vincent tells them to run as he swings the pitchfork around. The Doctor encourages Amy to take cover while he calms Vincent. However, Vincent yells for the Doctor to duck as he is swept off his feet by something large and invisible. Realising Vincent is not having a fit, but can actually see the beast, the Doctor grabs a stick to help fight it. As he cannot see it, he uselessly swings the stick around to help cover more ground. Vincent wards the creature off and tells the Doctor, who is still swinging the stick around, that the beast has left. The Doctor asks Vincent what the creature looked like; Vincent says that he'll show them...

Leading them back inside, Vincent whites out a canvas of flowers — much to Amy and the Doctor's horror — and proceeds to draw the creature on it. The Doctor is shocked by what it looks like and decides that something in the TARDIS can help identify what it is. He instructs Amy to look after Vincent and make him as comfortable as possible. He tells them he'll be back before they can ask where he's gotten to; he then immediately returns to scare them silly, telling them not to ask too fast.

Unknown to the Doctor, the invisible creature has not gone too far from the studio, and begins stalking him. By the time the Doctor gets back into town and to the TARDIS, the creature attempts to attack. However, the Doctor enters the TARDIS right before it can get to him.

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor rummages through a drawer full of junk, apologising to the object he is looking for as he thought it was an embarrassing gift from a dull two-headed godmother with bad breath. Pulling out a portable device, the Doctor hooks it to the printer on the console. He smiles at the mirror-like attachment on the device, and it shows his first two incarnations and his personal information. Seeing that it works, the Doctor shows the device Vincent's painting, which it misinterprets as a parrot and polar bear, unable to clearly make out what it is. Annoyed, the Doctor tosses the painting aside; he grumbles that Vincent will have to try painting something better.

It's dawn by the time the Doctor exits the TARDIS. Strapping the device to himself, he does not notice the creature reflected by the device. Having got a clear image of the creature, the device beeps, giving the Doctor the information about it; he mistakenly believes that it needed some time to get it right. Reading the information, the Doctor feels sorry for the "poor, brutal thing," wishing to see it again soon. Upon seeing the beast's reflection, he calmly says "but not that soon", before running off to escape it. To obstruct the creature's path, the Doctor drops debris behind him to slow the creature as he hides behind a corner. Using the mirror on the device, the Doctor finds that it has left in a different direction. He turns around, only to be scared by Amy; he demands to know why she left Vincent unguarded. Amy explains that though she loves his artwork, she finds it hard to like Vincent's snoring.

Back at the studio, the Doctor wakes Vincent, who steps into the courtyard to see Amy surrounded by sunflowers; she tells Vincent it's her way of thanking him for saving her yesterday. Amy suggests he paint them, but Vincent explains they are not his favourite; Amy is confused by this, as Vincent will paint a picture of them. Vincent explains he finds them complex, half-living and half-dying, but it would be a challenge, to which the Doctor responds that he believes that he'll rise to the occasion.

Giving Vincent a print-out of the creature, the Doctor explains that it's called a Krafayis. They travel through space in packs, a brutal race of scavengers. This one has apparently been abandoned. It will kill without mercy until it is killed — unlikely, given its invisibility. Nonetheless, he assures Vincent they can stop the killings if he will paint the church. Vincent agrees and the Doctor informs him that, afterwards, he and Amy will leave. Once Vincent has departed, the Doctor expresses concern at putting him in such a dangerous situation; if he is killed, half of the paintings on display in the Musée d'Orsay will vanish.

After a while, the Doctor and Amy have gotten tired of waiting for Vincent getting ready. Wondering what is keeping him, the Doctor finds him lying in bed, sobbing. He is devastated the Doctor and Amy are prepared to leave him, like everyone else. The Doctor tries to console and encourage Vincent, whose mood becomes more violent. He orders the Doctor to leave; shocked, he complies. Outside Vicent's room, the Doctor runs into Amy, who wonders what they're doing. The Doctor explains that they're leaving; Vincent has a fragile psyche and will kill himself in just a few short months; trying to force Vincent might accelerate his suicide and cause the disappearance of his final works. They will have to try finding the Krafayis without Vincent's help, hoping it will still arrive at the church without the presence of the painter. However, right before they can leave, Vincent arrives, calmed and ready.

On the way to the church, Amy tries to talk to Vincent about his depression. Vincent explains that his moods sometimes bother him for months at a time, but they got lucky today; he adds if she can "soldier on," then he can too. This confuses her, which prompts Vincent to reveal he can hear her sadness and believes that she has recently lost someone. He also points out she is crying, which she hadn't realised. The Doctor listens in, surprised. They stop in the road as a funeral procession, for the girl who was killed the previous night, passes; everyone glares at Vincent. Amy questions the Doctor, wondering what his plan is this time. However, the Doctor tells her he's got something like a plan, "only more greatness"; he's armed with overconfidence, a sonic screwdriver and the device in his briefcase.

At the church, Vincent begins to paint. The Doctor spends the time talking to Vincent about his past meetings with Michelangelo, who took the job of painting the Sistine Chapel despite being afraid of heights, and Pablo Picasso, who he tried getting to paint normal faces. As it becomes night, the Doctor becomes frustrated as the Krafayis is not punctual, confessing to Amy that something doesn't feel right. Just then, Vincent sees the beast in the window. The Doctor goes inside, ordering his companions not to follow. Vincent questions Amy as to if she will follow the Doctor; she responds, "of course," prompting Vincent to tell her he loves her. Inside, the Doctor "fights" the creature, but when his device is destroyed, he prepares to retreat. Outside, Amy and Vincent hear the chaos. Amy runs inside, calling for the Doctor.

The Doctor attempts to exit the church but bumps into Amy. Despite being annoyed that she disobeyed him again, he forces her to hide in the confessional with him. They whisper to each other as the Krafayis attacks them. The Doctor remarks the Krafayis has incredible hearing. As it tears the confessionals apart, Vincent appears, brandishing a chair to distract the beast, allowing the Doctor and Amy to escape. The Doctor tries stunning the beast with the sonic screwdriver, but since he can't see it, he can't tell if he has the right setting; Vincent says the attempt to stun the beast pleased it instead. As a result, the Doctor gives up on the idea and they take refuge in another chamber, with Vincent blocking the door with his chair. Thinking quickly about why the Krafayis was left behind, the Doctor accidentally refers to Vincent as Rory while rambling; Amy is confused by this, but the Doctor quickly covers up his mistake. Vincent tells them to wait there as he has an idea, promptly leaving out another exit.

In Vincent's absence, the Doctor attempts to reason with the creature (thanks to the TARDIS translation circuit), telling it he too is alone; he offers to help the creature. The Krafayis stops its attempts to break down the door and everything goes silent, and, for a moment, the Doctor thinks he managed to it to listen to reason. However, this notion is dispelled immediately when the chamber windows blow out. The Doctor and Amy take over behind a tomb as they hear the beast enter the room.

Vincent returns with his easel, holding it like a weapon. He says the creature is making its way around the edges of the room. Amy's comment of "I can't see a thing" helps the Doctor put all the pieces together and he calls himself an idiot for not noticing this sooner. Slapping himself, the Doctor explains why the Krafayis is feeling its way around the room, how it has such perfect hearing, why it hasn't simply killed them and why it was left behind by its pack; it is blind. Vincent points out that the perfect hearing "would explain why it has now turned around and is now running right at us!"

As it attacks, Vincent stabs the Krafayis with the legs of the easel. It collapses, badly wounded and dying. It begins crying as it is afraid, and the Doctor consoles it as it dies. Vincent mourns that he didn't mean to kill it, only wound it, and that he understands its lonely existence. The Krafayis was lashing out in fear, just like the people who hate Vincent for being a madman.

Amy, Vincent, and the Doctor lie in the grass outside the church; Vincent says they are lucky to still be alive to see the wonders of the world. Vincent encourages them to see the world as he does, saying the blackness of the sky is actually multiple shades of blue. Smiling, the Doctor admits that he has seen many amazing things in his life, but nothing quite as wonderful as what Vincent sees. Vincent tells his friends he will miss them when they're gone.

The next morning, Vincent attempts to give his self-portrait as a parting gift, but the Doctor, knowing what it will be worth one day, refuses it. The painter takes this in stride; he's used to having his works of art refused. Vincent admits that, despite his experiences over the last couple of days, he won't do well on his own. As the Doctor and Amy depart, he gets an idea, asking Amy if she has the same one; she doesn't as she's thinking about grabbing breakfast at the café. The Doctor calls to Vincent, who looks out his window, half-dressed, and tells him to tidy up as there is something he wants to show him.

They take him to the TARDIS, which is now covered in circus posters; the Doctor slices through them with the TARDIS key and opens the doors of his time machine. The Doctor reminds Vincent about how they talked about the wonders of the universe before showing him inside. Seeing the inside, Vincent examines the outside and returns to the Doctor and Amy. He enters, amused, asking how he's "crazy" while they've managed to remain sane. The Doctor explains some of the buttons on the console, secretly steering the TARDIS. Vincent is amazed by all the Doctor has told him and asks that they come back to the café and explain more about the wonders of the universe. However, the Doctor tells him that there is something they wish to show him first.

Stepping outside, they reveal to Vincent that they're now at the Musée d'Orsay in 2010; the time vortex energy has also reduced the posters covering the TARDIS to cinders. The Doctor and Amy lead Vincent into the museum, leaving his hat back in the TARDIS to avoid arousing suspicion of his identity. Led through the building, Vincent looks in awe at the exhibits, then is even more surprised when he is led into the section dedicated completely to his paintings. While Vincent stares at people enjoying his work, the Doctor finds Dr Black again, and asks if he can summarise where Vincent stands in history. Dr Black is taken aback, as it's a "big question".

Vincent is close enough to hear his response, and hears Dr Black praises van Gogh for turning his pain into incredible beauty, calling him not only the world's greatest artist but also one of the greatest men of all time. Vincent is reduced to tears by these words and the Doctor starts to apologise, thinking this was too much for him. However, Vincent explains he's crying out of joy; now he knows that people will love his paintings. He hugs Dr Black and thanks him for his kind words before leaving with his friends. Dr Black is confused and suspects the truth before thinking better of it.

Vincent is returned to 1890, where he comments on what has happened and thanks the Doctor for truly helping him where other doctors have not; the Doctor is equally joyous, bidding his new friend farewell. Vincent then tells Amy that should she grow bored of the Doctor, she should return and they will have a big family. Amy tells Vincent that she's "not the marrying type"; the Doctor is subtly distressed to hear this. Leaving for home, Vincent hears the TARDIS leave and turns back to see it gone. He then leaves, happy, and sure he will use his experience to change himself into a new man.

The Doctor and Amy return to the Musée d'Orsay. Amy is certain their time with Vincent changed him. Having seen people's lives turn out better from meeting them, Amy believes that they have prevented Vincent from committing suicide, and that he would have spent a longer life painting. Ecstatic at the prospect of seeing new paintings, Amy happily skips back into the exhibit. However, to her shock, there are no new works. To her furthering sadness, she overhears Dr Black still announce to tourists that van Gogh still went through with committing suicide at the age of thirty-seven.

Amy is heartbroken that they didn't make a difference in Vincent's life at all, but the Doctor rejects this. He says that good things can't remove the pain of bad things, but bad things can't spoil the good things either, and they certainly added a large amount of good to Vincent's life. The Doctor shows Amy that the face of the Krafayis is no longer visible in the window of the church. Another change becomes evident as they prepare to leave. Amy sees Van Gogh's painting of sunflowers, now dedicated to her. Amy jokes that if she had a child with Vincent, they would have had really red hair. The Doctor jokes back, saying it would be the "Ultimate Ginger". Amy cries as they both laugh.


Uncredited cast[[edit]]


General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.

This was the first episode of the BBC Wales series to have two credited script editors. Oddly, Emma Freud was credited at the end of the roll, suggesting she was considered more "senior" than Brian Minchin.  As on The Vampires of Venice, Patrick Schweitzer was double-credited as both producer and line producer.


The TARDIS[[edit]]

  • The paper placed on the exterior of the TARDIS is incinerated once it is brought into the time vortex.
  • The Retro-version of the TARDIS console has a friction contrafibulator, two switches with a red and yellow head that the Doctor notes are "Ketchup" and "Mustard", and near these two switches is a Type V 310-A AC/DC receiver constructed by Magpie Electricals.

People from the real world[[edit]]

Story notes[[edit]]

  • Richard Curtis' preferred title for the adventure was Eyes That See the Darkness. It drew upon the description of van Gogh as having “eyes that know the darkness in my soul” in Don McLean's 1971 song Vincent, which was itself inspired by Starry Night. Steven Moffat, however, preferred a less abstruse title.
  • Unlike most stories in this series, this story focuses much more on characters than plot, and has hints and references to van Gogh's struggle with bipolar disorder and suicide, something the series has not explored deeply before. A message and phone number for the "BBC Action Line" was broadcast following the "Next Time" trailer for those wanting more information on "issues raised in this program".
  • Pictures of the First and Second Doctors are printed on the TARDIS' typewriter.
  • The accordion player in the café is clearly playing a rendition of "I Am The Doctor" from the series 5 soundtrack.
  • This is the second story in the series to lack any cracks, silence, or other foreshadowing of the series finale, the first being Amy's Choice. However, it does tie in to Rory's death and establishes that, on some level, Amy is aware he has died.
  • Bill Nighy agreed to take the part on condition that he was not credited, no publicity photos were taken of him, and he did not have to give any interviews.
  • The song used for the scenes of Van Gogh in the museum is "Chances" by Athlete. This was Matt Smith's idea, as he was a fan of the band.
  • This is the first episode since 1963 to end on a cut to black.
  • Van Gogh works referenced in the episode include: Church at Auvers (1890), Bedroom in Arles (1887), The Café Terrace (1888), Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers (1888), Portrait of Dr. Gachet (1890), The Starry Night (1889), Wheatfield with Crows (1890), Vincent's Chair with His Pipe (1888), Self-Portrait with Straw Hat (1887), and Almond Blossoms (1890).
  • During the Doctor Who: Lockdown! tweetalong of this episode in 2020, Matt Smith opined that "Doctor Black" may in fact be an alias of a future incarnation of the Doctor checking back on his younger self and helping him along, quite like the Curator. This would retrospectively make Vincent and the Doctor a backdoor multi-Doctor story, although such an identity is not known to have been anybody's intent in the filming, and has yet to be confirmed by any sources deemed valid on this Wiki.[2]
  • The self-portrait of Vincent is not an exact replica; it is altered slightly to resemble Tony Curran. This painting would later show up as an image in an historical archive in Smile.
  • Richard Curtis had been fascinated by the life of Vincent Van Gough. Though it was a subject he knew "quite a lot" about, he still read a 200-page biography of Van Gogh, which was more research than he normally would have done if working on other projects; he took Van Gogh very seriously. As such, he wanted to be "truthful rather than cruel" and refused to write any jokes about Van Gogh's ears after he famously cut one of them off.
  • Bill Nighy filmed his key cameo in a day.
  • The scene with the Doctor, Amy and Vincent lying in a field was inspired by the painting Starry Night.
  • Steven Moffat named this as his favourite Eleventh Doctor episode.
  • To write the script, Richard Curtis and his wife Emma Freud, who routinely worked as his script editor, took their four children to Italy for a month. After a week in which little headway was made, the family had the idea to arrange a spare room in their rented former schoolhouse in the manner of van Gogh's 1888 painting Bedroom in Arles. Curtis then enjoyed quick progress, bolstered by nightly viewings of past Doctor Who episodes. Input came from his children, with daughter Scarlett suggesting that it could be The Church at Auvers in which the Krafayis appeared. The family had seen the original masterpiece in the collection of the Musée d'Orsay.
  • Due to time constraints, several scenes were cut. These included several scenes involving Madame Vernet - the mother of the slain Giselle - as well as the revelation that the Doctor knows of the Krafayis from a book of scary stories he read as a child on Gallifrey. The latter plot strand would have caused the Doctor to be jittery throughout his time in Auvers, and would also have presaged the climactic revelation about the Krafayis' handicap, since the book was titled Blind Fury.
  • When writing the script, Richard Curtis put up prints of Van Gogh paintings around the house as well as a board with index cards outlining the plot.
  • Richard Curtis asked Steven Moffat to criticise "anything and everything" and later said he was very honest. Moffat told Curtis that it needed to "start quicker" and that the meeting with the Doctor and Vincent was "dull" and needed to be something "cute" like Curtis had done in his films. He also noted that the Doctor did not talk as much as Curtis had written and recommended Curtis watch some episodes to see he was "rather efficient in the way that he talked". Curtis enjoyed the experience, commenting that it was "fun" to work within boundaries rather than doing it all himself. After seeing a read-through performed by Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, Curtis made more changes. He commented that it was easy to write for them as they were "so delightful and modern and relaxed".
  • The producers have stated that they cast someone as high profile as Bill Nighy for such a small part was because they needed the audience to listen to what the character said (which in this case were important biographical information about Vincent Van Gogh).
  • Bill Nighy and Tony Curran have both appeared in the Underworld series, playing elder vampires Vincent and Marcus.
  • It was Steven Moffat's idea that the Krafayis be invisible.
  • When the Doctor and Amy say goodbye to Vincent and he stands in the field, the wide shot of him as the TARDIS fades has two branches cut through the middle of the frame which somewhat resemble half of the crack from Amy's bedroom.
  • The original script was a pure character piece where the Doctor and Amy visit Van Gogh and spend an uneventful few days with him. The execs insisted they needed to fight a monster.
  • Richard Curtis wanted to write for the show because he thought it would be "something my kids would like."
  • In 2020, Karen Gillan later revealed on Twitter that her father got her a Van Gough Sunflowers painting for her birthday.
  • Matt Smith named this as one of his favourite episodes because it was shot in Croatia.
  • Steven Moffat met Richard Curtis at Red Nose Day 1999, where Moffat contributed The Curse of Fatal Death.
  • Steven Moffat knew that Richard Curtis wasn't a fan of the series and the writer pondered his offer to contribute a script for some time. However, he happened to live next door to David Morrissey, who was co-starring in The Next Doctor. Their families watched the broadcast together, after which Curtis' children demanded that he accept Moffat's invitation.
  • Richard Curtis had enjoyed the show's historical episodes and felt comfortable writing one. He had the idea of a story centred on van Gogh for "a long while" and was particularly interested in the fact van Gogh never knew he would be famous, as well as his inspirational story. Steven Moffat was initially cool to this approach, which he worried would be inappropriate for the programme's audience, but he was eventually persuaded by Curtis' ideas for the script. Nonetheless, it was agreed that the story would avoid focusing on the more sordid aspects of van Gogh's life, such as the amputation of a portion of his left ear.
  • Richard Curtis chose to fictionalise some aspects of van Gogh's history; for example, he set his script at the Yellow House which van Gogh had rented in Arles from 1888 to 1889, but he reimagined the associated events as taking place in June 1890, when van Gogh was actually living in Auvers-sur-Oise.
  • Krafayis was originally spelled Crafayis.
  • For much of the story's development, there were in fact two Krafayis, with the second committing suicide after van Gogh inadvertently killed its mate, rather than face the agony of loneliness.
  • This episode formed Block Five of season five, along with The Vampires of Venice.
  • Although principal photography was scheduled to take place in November and December 2009, Jonny Campbell made the unusual decision to film material for one scene months earlier. This was the shot of the wheat field used at the beginning of the episode, which would have been out of season in late autumn.
  • A six-foot turntable was used for the sequence where van Gogh realised the enormous impact which his artwork had had upon the world.
  • Bill Nighy collaborated with Richard Curtis on the films Love Actually, The Boat That Rocked and About Time.
  • The first day of filming in Trogir was hit by rain, so the cast and crew travelled ten kilometres west, to the village of Vrsine, where, Jonny Campbell taped the scene of the Doctor, Amy and Vincent lying in a field.
  • Though it was a subject he knew "quite a lot" about, Richard Curtis still read a 200-page biography of van Gogh, which was more research than he normally would have done if working on other projects; he took van Gogh very seriously. As such, he wanted to be "truthful rather than cruel" and refused to write any jokes about van Gogh's ears after he famously cut one of them off. However, he did incorporate other humour as he naturally wanted to "try to make things funny".
  • Richard Curtis stated that casting an actor to play van Gogh was done carefully, as he wanted him to feel to the audience as van Gogh, not "like a bloke they've seen acting lots of other parts, in an orange wig".
  • Richard Curtis called Tony Curran a "wonderful actor" who "really could not look more like" van Gogh.
  • Tony Curran, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan got to know each other very well, which Gillan hoped would be evident in their chemistry in the episode.
  • The cafe was modelled after the painting Café Terrace at Night. This proved challenging for the art department, which looked extensively for a suitable building in Croatia to use. Once the artists found the one they wanted, they had to redesign it to look like the painting; this involved putting an awning up, changing the windows, and adding a platform with tables and chairs.
  • Richard Curtis stated that the climactic scene in the art gallery has transcended the episode.
  • It was Matt Smith who suggested "Chances" by Athlete be used in the ending, as he was a big fan of the band.
  • During his commentary for the 2020 Doctor Who Lockdown watchalong of the episode, Richard Curtis said that the episode was inspired by and a tribute to a family member who had struggled with depression.
  • Bill Nighy had previously been rumoured as a candidate for the Ninth or Tenth Doctors. He joked that he lost the latter because David Tennant was better looking.


  • Overnight viewing figures were 5.0 million.
  • Official viewing figures were 6.29 million viewers.
  • Final UK ratings were 6.76 million viewers.[3]


to be added

Filming locations[[edit]]

  • National Museum of Wales [4]
  • Trogir, Croatia [5]
  • Roald Dahl Plass [6], which is supposed to double for the Musée d'Orsay in Paris

Production errors[[edit]]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • When running through the streets with his mirror, the Doctor screams, "Ahh", but his mouth is not synced with his screaming.
  • For most of the episode, Amy is wearing tights. During the church scene, when van Gogh starts painting the church, they're gone. Later on, when the group are hiding from the monster, she's wearing them again.
  • When in the chapel looking for the monster, the Doctor switches the mirror from his left to right side while holding his sonic screwdriver. For each change, the camera angle also changes, and the sonic screwdriver changes from being in closed mode and extended mode.
  • At the beginning, when looking at the painting of the church, the Doctor scratches his head. When the camera is behind the Doctor, he uses his right hand but when the camera cuts to in front of him, he is using his left hand.
  • When the Krafayis first appears in the visual recognition system, it is directly behind the Doctor, who is next to the TARDIS. When the Doctor runs away, it is heard chasing him. The Doctor hides behind a wall and using the mirror sees the creature, but it is still beside the TARDIS.
  • When in the chapel running away from the Krafayis, the Doctor is attacked by the monster, knocking him off his feet and into a nearby wall. For one shot, the wire that lifts Matt Smith off his feet and into the wall can be seen clearly.
  • When visiting the museum for the final time, the Krafayis is still slightly visible in the painting.


Home video releases[[edit]]

Series 5 Volume 4 DVD Cover

DVD & Blu-ray releases[[edit]]

  • Series 5, Volume Four was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in region 2/B on 6 September 2010 and region 4/B on 7 October 2010. The volume features Vincent and the Doctor, The Lodger, The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang, and the featurette The Monster Diaries.
  • The episode was later released in the Complete Fifth Series boxset on both DVD and Blu-ray, in region 1/A on 9 November 2010, in region 2/B on 8 November 2010 and in region 4/B on 2 December 2010.
  • A DVD-only release of Series 5, Part Two, containing the latter seven episodes of the series, was released in region 1 on 26 July 2016.

Digital releases[[edit]]

  • In the United Kingdom, this story is available on BBC iPlayer.

External links[[edit]]