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New Series Episode 72:
Vincent And The Doctor

Plot

At an exhibition of the works of Vincent van Gogh, the Doctor and Amy discover a disturbing image hidden in one of his paintings. Travelling back to Provence in 1890, they discover that van Gogh is plagued by a ferocious monster called the Krafayis that only he can see. As the time travellers struggle to deal with an invisible monster, they must also navigate the tortured artist's swings of mood, knowing full well that, within two months, he will have taken his own life.

Production

Richard Curtis had been a well-known writer in Britain for many years. He had gotten his start in television in partnership with Rowan Atkinson, scripting both The Black Adder and Mr Bean, as well as contributing to programmes such as Spitting Image, Casualty and The Vicar Of Dibley. Curtis had also moved into film, writing such popular comedy-dramas as Four Weddings And A Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones's Diary and Love Actually (which he also directed).

In 1985, Curtis founded Comic Relief with comedian Lenny Henry, and the charity began holding biennial appeals on BBC1. This brought him into contact with producer Sue Vertue, and for the 1999 edition of Comic Relief, Curtis tasked Vertue's husband, Steven Moffat, with scripting The Curse Of Fatal Death, a Doctor Who spoof starring Atkinson. Curtis was not himself a big fan of Doctor Who, but in 2008, he was nonetheless contacted by Moffat with an offer to contribute to the programme, for which Moffat was now the showrunner and executive producer. Curtis considered Moffat's request for some time, and was finally convinced after watching the 2008 Doctor Who Christmas special The Next Doctor with his friend and neighbour David Morrissey, who had guest-starred in the episode.

For many years, Curtis had wanted to write a story about the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, but had been unable to find the proper venue for such a project. Curtis was struck by van Gogh's battle with mental illness, and especially his utter lack of success and appreciation during his lifetime, in contrast to the phenomenal esteem in which his would work would posthumously be held. Moffat was initially cool to Curtis' preferred subject matter -- worrying that it was inappropriate for the Doctor Who audience -- but was eventually persuaded by Curtis' ideas for the script. It was agreed that Curtis would avoid focussing on the more sordid aspects of van Gogh's life, such as the amputation of a portion of his left ear. Curtis also elected to fictionalise some aspects of van Gogh's timeline; for example, he set his script at the Yellow House which van Gogh had rented at Arles from 1888 to 1889, but positioned this in June 1890, when van Gogh was living in Auvers-sur-Oise.

In writing his script, Curtis invited contributions from his teenaged children, who had urged him to accept Moffat's invitation to work on Doctor Who. It was his daughter Scarlett, for instance, who suggested that the Krafayis (originally spelt “Crafayis”) could be spotted by the Doctor in van Gogh's 1890 painting The Church At Auvers, which was part of the collection of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. The Krafayis' invisible nature, meanwhile, was Moffat's idea. For much of the story's development, there were in fact two of the creatures, with the second choosing to commit suicide after van Gogh inadvertently kills its mate rather than face the agony of loneliness. Curtis wanted to call his script “Eyes That See The Darkness”, based on the description of van Gogh as having “eyes that know the darkness in my soul” in Don McLean's 1971 song Vincent, inspired by van Gogh's Starry Night (1889). Moffat, however, preferred a less abstruse title, and the adventure became Vincent And The Doctor; this referenced the 1990 Robert Altman film Vincent & Theo about the relationship between van Gogh and his brother Theodore.

In order to achieve a believable representation of a nineteenth-century French village, it was decided that many of the exteriors for Vincent And The Doctor would have to be filmed abroad. To this end, Curtis' script was paired with The Vampires Of Venice to form Season Thirty-One's fifth production block, directed by Jonny Campbell, part of which would take place in Trogir, Croatia. While principal photography was scheduled to take place in November and December 2009, Campbell made the unusual decision to film material for one scene months earlier -- namely, the shot of the wheat field used at the beginning of the episode, which would have been out of season in late autumn. This footage was captured on August 20th at Penllyn Farm Estate at Pentre Meyrick in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Three months later, the cameras were rolling again on Vincent And The Doctor, with Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff posing as the Church at Auvers on November 24th. The next two days were spent at Upper Boat Studios recording the TARDIS scenes. Then, on the 27th, the material in the Vincent van Gogh room at the Muséee d'Orsay was recorded at Cardiff's National Museum of Wales. The cast was joined on this day by Bill Nighy, who was making an uncredited appearance as Dr Black. Nighy had never before appeared in Doctor Who, but had been a strong contender for the role of the Ninth Doctor in 2004 -- and, indeed, had been announced by some newspapers as having won the part before Christopher Eccleton's casting was confirmed. Nighy was a good friend of Curtis', and had appeared in Love Actually.

Campbell's team then travelled to Trogir, where filming began on November 30th. The first day was spent outside the city near Vrsine; this included material at the edifice which would represent the exterior of the Yellow House (as well as Vincent's bedroom), together with the scene of the Doctor, Amy and Vincent lying in a field which was inspired by Starry Night. On December 1st, the Café Toras in Trogir was dressed as the establishment in van Gogh's 1888 work Café Terrace At Night. The next two days were spent at Vrsine for more material at the Yellow House; the shot of the funeral procession was also taped there on the 2nd. It was back to Trogir on the 4th, with the discovery of Giselle's body filmed at Capo Junction.

The next work for Vincent And The Doctor took place on December 8th, with a Trogir alley providing the site where the TARDIS lands in Arles. The only recording for the episode on the 9th were some pick-up shots for the café scene, completed alongside the River Pantan. The last day in Croatia was December 10th, when Campbell filmed the Doctor's melee with the Krafayis at Capo Junction, as well as the remaining TARDIS exterior scene in which Vincent is escorted to the time machine.

Back in Great Britain, cast and crew spent two days at Sutton Farm in Llandow on December 14th and 15th, for the remaining sequences in the Yellow House. This was the last material to be filmed for Vincent And The Doctor in 2009. Work in 2010 began on January 4th with several insert shots on the TARDIS set at Upper Boat. Additional material in the Church at Auvers was taped on the 5th, this time at Neath Abbey in Neath. January 6th began with a return to the National Museum for footage both within and without the Musée d'Orsay. The day continued with some inserts, recorded at Upper Boat. On January 7th, some sequences outside the Church at Auvers were filmed at Llancaiach Fawr near Nelson in Treharris. Material in the confessional booth was also filmed there on the 8th, with this subsequently completed at Upper Boat on the 13th. Finally, two months later, an insert of Vincent's chair in the Yellow House was captured at Upper Boat.

In editing, Vincent And The Doctor was found to be vastly overlength. It was eventually agreed that the episode would be broadcast in a 50-minute timeslot as opposed to the usual 45 minutes, but Campbell was nonetheless forced to excise a number of elements. Most notably, this 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. Given the sensitive issues raised in the episode, it was also decided to conclude the broadcast of Vincent And The Doctor with an onscreen graphic offering information about a helpline for those affected by mental illness.

Sources
  • Doctor Who News.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #27, 16th March 2011, “Vincent And The Doctor” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.

Original Transmission
Date 5th Jun 2010
Time 6.41pm
Duration 46'36"
Viewers (more) 6.8m (17th)
· BBC1 6.3m
· BBCHD 471k
· iPlayer 1.2m
Appreciation 86%


Cast
The Doctor
Matt Smith
Amy Pond
Karen Gillan
Vincent
Tony Curran
(more)
Maurice
Nik Howden
Mother
Chrissie Cotterill
Waitress
Sarah Counsell
School Children
Morgan Overton
Andrew Byrne


Crew
Written by
Richard Curtis
Directed by
Jonny Campbell
Produced by
Tracie Simpson
Patrick Schweitzer
(more)

1st Asst Director
John Bennett
2nd Asst Director
James DeHaviland
3rd Asst Director
Heddi-Joy Taylor-Welch
Runners
Nicola Eynon Price
Laura Jenkins
Location Manager
Gareth Skelding
Unit Manager
Rhys Griffiths
Production Manager
Holly Pullinger
Production Co-ordinator
Jess van Niekerk
Production Management Asst
Claire Thomas
Production Runner
Siân Warrilow
Asst Production Accountant
Carole Wakefield
Script Editors
Brian Minchin
Emma Freud
Continuity
Non Eleri Hughes
Camera Operator
Ian Adrian
B Camera Operator
Matthew Poynter
Focus Puller
Steve Rees
Grip
John Robinson
Camera Assistants
Tom Hartley
Jon Vidgen
Boom Operator
Dafydd Parry
Sound Maintenance Engineer
Jeff Welch
Gaffer
Mark Hutchings
Best Boy
Pete Chester
Electricians
Ben Griffiths
Steve Slocombe
Bob Milton
Alan Tippetts
Stunt Co-ordinator
Crispin Layfield
Supervising Art Director
Stephen Nicholas
Associate Designer
James North
Art Dept Co-ordinator
Amy Oakes
Production Buyer
Ben Morris
Set Decorator
Keith Dunne
Props Buyer
Catherine Samuel
Standby Art Director
Tristan Peatfield
Set Designer
Ben Austin
Storyboard Artist
James Iles
Concept Artists
Richard Shaun Williams
Peter McKinstry
Graphic Artist
Jackson Pope
Standby Props
Phill Shellard
Tom Evans
Standby Carpenter
Will Pope
Standby Rigger
Keith Freeman
Standby Painter
Ellen Woods
Props Master
Paul Aitken
Props Chargehand
Matt Wild
Dressing Props
Martin Broadbent
Rhys Jones
Props Fabrication Manager
Barry Jones
Props Makers
Penny Howarth
Nicholas Robatto
Practical Electrician
Albert James
Construction Manager
Matthew Hywel-Davies
Construction Chargehand
Scott Fisher
Scenic Artists
John Pinkerton
John Whalley
Graphics
BBC Wales Graphics
Title Sequence
FrameStore
Costume Supervisor
Bobbie Peach
Crowd Supervisor
Lindsay Bonaccorsi
Costume Assistants
Sara Morgan
Maria Franchi
Make-Up Supervisor
Pam Mullins
Make-Up Artists
Abi Brotherton
Morag Smith
Casting Associates
Andy Brierley
Alice Purser
Assistant Editor
Becky Trotman
VFX Editor
Cat Gregory
Post Prod. Supervisors
Ceres Doyle
Chris Blatchford
Post Prod. Co-ordinator
Marie Brown
Dubbing Mixer
Tim Ricketts
Supervising Sound Editor
Paul McFadden
Sound Effects Editor
Paul Jefferies
Foley Editor
Helen Dickson
Colourist
Mick Vincent
On-Line Conform
Matthew Clarke
Mark Bright
Original Theme Music
Ron Grainer
Casting Director
Andy Pryor CDG
Production Executive
Julie Scott
Production Accountant
Ceri Tothill
Sound Recordist
Bryn Thomas
Costume Designer
Ray Holman
Make-Up Designer
Barbara Southcott
Music
Murray Gold
Visual Effects
The Mill
Special Effects
Real SFX
Editor
Jamie Pearson
Production Designer
Edward Thomas
Director Of Photography
Tony Slater Ling
Line Producer
Patrick Schweitzer
Executive Producers
Steven Moffat
Piers Wenger
Beth Willis


Working Titles
Eyes That See The Darkness


Media
DVD Release
Doctor Who: Series 5 Volume 4 (single disc; 2010)
Buy: UK
Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series (2010; boxed set)
Buy: Canada · UK · USA
Blu-ray Release
Doctor Who: Series 5 Volume 4 (single disc; 2010)
Buy: UK
Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series (2010; boxed set)
Buy: Canada · UK · USA

Updated 4th August 2013