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.
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.
- The Doctor - Matt Smith
- Amy Pond - Karen Gillan
- Vincent - Tony Curran
- Maurice - Nik Howden
- Mother - Chrissie Cotterill
- Waitress - Sarah Counsell
- School children - Morgan Overton, Andrew Byrne
|Executive Producers Steven Moffat, Piers Wenger and Beth Willis|
|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 exhibit is called Vincent van Gogh: The Great Innovator.
- The Doctor uses crosactic energy to stun the Krafayis.
- The Doctor makes a reference to the film Field of Dreams, saying "If you paint it, he will come..."
- 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
- The Doctor has met Michelangelo and Pablo Picasso.
- The Doctor expresses frustration with van Gogh's style, suggesting that this would "never happen with Gainsborough".
- 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 version 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 was not credited for his role.
- The song used for the scenes of Van Gogh in the museum is "Chances" by Athlete.
- 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.
- Overnight viewing figures were 5.0 million.
- Official viewing figures were 6.29 million viewers.
- Final UK ratings were 6.76 million viewers.
to be added
- National Museum of Wales 
- Trogir, Croatia 
- Roald Dahl Plass , which is supposed to double for the Musée d'Orsay in Paris
- 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.
- The Doctor and Dr Black compliment each other's bow ties, the Doctor saying again that "bow ties are cool". (TV: The Eleventh Hour, Amy's Choice)
- The Doctor once again mentions that he is ageing mentally, in contrast to his physical appearance. (TV: Time Crash, The End of Time)
- The Doctor mentions Rory, to which Amy asks, "Who?" Amy also says that the Doctor is being extra kind to her, as unbeknownst to her he is feeling guilty about Rory's erasure from time. Van Gogh also sees that Amy is crying, although she doesn't know why; he theorises that she has lost someone. After receiving a half-joking marriage proposal from Vincent, Amy tells him that she's "not the marrying kind". (TV: Cold Blood)
- The Doctor has previously tried to ask a companion who has recently left to do something. (TV: The Rescue)
- Taking a companion to a pleasant exhibit after the death of a fellow companion is something the Fifth Doctor attempted to do earlier for Nyssa and Tegan. (TV: Time-Flight)
- Vincent van Gogh has romantic feelings for Amy. Previously, William Shakespeare made advances towards Martha Jones, (TV: The Shakespeare Code) and Madame de Pompadour fell in love with the Tenth Doctor. (TV: The Girl in the Fireplace)
- The Doctor urges Vincent away from the Friction contrafibulator. Later, he would use it to stabilise the TARDIS. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)
- The Doctor has met Michelangelo. (AUDIO: Fallen Angels)
Home video releases
BBC Video - Doctor Who Series Five - Volume Four was released on Monday 6 September 2010 (UK Only) on DVD and Blu-ray, featuring Vincent and the Doctor, The Lodger, The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang.
The story was later included in the Series 5 boxset, released 8 November 2010.
- The Fourth Dimension: Vincent and the Doctor. BBC One - Doctor Who. Retrieved on 18 October 2012.
- Smith, M. (30 March 2020). #TheUltimateGinger. Twitter. Retrieved on 24 November 2020.
- Doctor Who Ratings - UK final