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Doctor Henry Black (PROSE: Passion and Pain) was an art expert who worked at the Musée d'Orsay on a Vincent van Gogh exhibition. Dr Black held Vincent in high regard, considering him not only one of the world's greatest painters, but one of the greatest men to have ever lived.
While visiting the Musée d'Orsay, the Eleventh Doctor noticed a strange figure in one of the paintings of Vincent van Gogh. Using his psychic paper, he told Dr Black that he and Amy Pond were from the Ministry of Art and Artyness. He asked Dr Black when the work was painted. Dr Black said it was between the 1st and 3rd of June in 1890, less than a year before van Gogh committed suicide. Before leaving, Dr Black and the Doctor complimented each other's respective bow ties.
The Doctor and Amy returned to the museum a few days later from Black's perspective, with van Gogh in tow. The Doctor urged Dr Black toward them whilst Amy turned van Gogh's back to hide his face. At the Doctor's request, Dr Black shared his opinion of the painter. He commended him for his command of colour and "transform[ing] the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty"; that van Gogh was the first, and probably the last, artist to use "passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world." Van Gogh was reduced to tears. He hugged and kissed Dr Black to his bemusement, thanking him for his kind words before leaving. For a moment, Dr Black seemed to realise whom he had just met, but then dismissed the idea.
Behind the scenes
- Bill Nighy, who plays Black, was not credited in the episode. His credit comes from media announcements.
- During the Doctor Who: Lockdown! tweetalong of TV: Vincent and the Doctor 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 — who was, interestingly, suggested to be acquainted with Doctor Black in PROSE: Dr Black.
What if Bill Nighy is a Doctor from the future sent back to check on the progress of things?! I mean... he's a Doctor if ever I saw one!!?
- Wilkes, N. (1 February 2010). Exclusive: Bill Nighy to guest in 'Doctor Who'. Digital Spy. Retrieved on 6 July 2013.
- Doctor Who - Series Five - Episode 10 - Vincent and the Doctor. BBC Mobile - Television - Doctor Who. Retrieved on 6 July 2013. “Vincent and the Doctor was written by Richard Curtis and stars Matt Smith as the Doctor and Karen Gillan as Amy. It also stars Tony Curran and Bill Nighy and was directed by Jonny Campbell.”
- Smith, M. (30 March 2020). #TheUltimateGinger. Twitter. Retrieved on 24 November 2020.