Dr Who & Van Gogh

Can one episode of a TV series influence likes and dislikes of something?

Looking at Dr Who – that 50 odd year old sci-fi “hide behind the sofa” series that we all loved as kids. Would we admit to loving it as much now?

Well, I am. I love it and having been a “Whovian” since the age of three, I grab each new Dr, series and episode with the grace that it deserves. Of course we all have our favourite Drs. I tend to look at favourite episodes no matter who the Dr is. 


This leads us to Matt Smith and Karen Gillian in episode ten of series five. This episode introduced “Vincent and the Doctor”. I’d heard of Van Gogh. I will stake claim to knowing of the sunflowers, the one with the chair and the one with the dark night, maybe even the one with the church. But, I was never able to say I was really much of a fan of Van Gogh.

However, when you marry up Van Gogh with one of my favourite television shows (Dr Who) and tell his story, it begins to explain to me what kind of a man he was and introduces me to more than just his pictures.

While watching the Dr Who episode, it allows us to partake in what is going on in Van Gogh`s psyche.  Through his life he drifted in and out of ill health often suffering with depression. He also suffered from psychotic episodes and delusions and began to worry about his own mental stability.

There is of course the famous incident of Vincent cutting off his own ear and this is known to have happened after a heated disagreement with another artist by the name of Paul Gauguin. Mr Gaugin was known to “push back” against the style of Vincent and one of their discussions resulted in the razor and ear removal that became almost as famous as Van Gogh himself.

Van Gogh was a troubled soul and whether his drinking and depression simply destroyed him or influenced his paintings we shall never know. During the episode we see him in frequent arguments with cafe owners as he looks for more wine. We see him thrown out of a cafe as he has no money to pay. We see him offer his painting as payment to no avail. We see him called “that madman” which signals a very misunderstood character. All of these signs point to a tragic man who was unsuccessful in his life’s work.

During the episode, Vincent talks about his work and subsequently is taken  to see his work on display in an exhibition. His depression appears to lift as he sees that his work is remembered. However, that temporary lift in mood did not change the outcome. In 1890 his death was imminent as he committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest.

Following his death, his popularity rose. His paintings are some of the most expensive in the world and are housed in a museum that has been named after him. They are in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Some are in the Musee D`Orsay in Paris. No matter where they are in the world one thing is for sure. Thanks to Dr Who, there was a new generation of appreciation for Vincent Van Gogh, myself amongst them.

In the immortal words of Professor RiverSong........”spoilers!”⬇️