Bill Nighy shares brilliant behind-the-scenes story from Vincent and the Doctor

Vincent and the Doctor is regarded as one of the best episodes of the modern era of Doctor Who and often tops votes and polls on the subject among fans.

The episode, which was first broadcast on the BBC in the UK in June 2010, sees Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor travel through time with Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) to 1890 and meet the world-renowned artist Vincent Van Gogh, played by Tony Curran. Later in the episode which was written by Love Actually and Four Weddings and Funeral writer Richard Curtis, Van Gogh is transported to the modern-day where he sees his paintings hanging in a gallery and people flocking from around the world to see them.

The gallery curator in the famous episode is played by veteran British star Bill Nighy, and he has a hilarious story about what went on just before that shoot took place.

Speaking in a Vanity Fair video, Nighy explains that he loved the role because he gets to do “what everyone wants to do, drag him [Van Gogh] from the past and say ‘look they [the paintings] are worth 20 million bucks!'”

But when it came to what the character was to wear for the episode, well, that’s when the story really begins.

“It said in the script, a bow tie, and the costume person rang me and said; ‘What kind of a bow tie would you like?’ And I said; ‘Well, erm, I dunno, how about a navy polka dot?’

“He said; ‘fine.’ Then he came back and said; ‘I can’t find a navy polka dot tie.’ I said; ‘well, don’t worry about it, it can be a green, it can be anything. It was only a thought.’”

But that’s not where the story ends, because it seems everyone on the Doctor Who production was keen to make sure that the British acting legend got the bow tie that he first asked for…

Nighy continues: “He said; ‘No, no, no, it’s okay, because the women in the wardrobe – they’re sewing the dots on one by one!’

“I said; ‘please, have they started, that, because, please tell them to stop because it’s not required.’

“He said, ‘No, no – they’re happy to do it!’”

And it turns out the heroics in the wardrobe department had spread around the set by the time Nighy arrived on set to begin shooting Vincent and the Doctor.

Nighy adds: “I get down there at 3 o’clock in the morning, and the guy who gets me out the car… he is taking me to my trailer and he says; ‘you know the ladies in the wardrobe, you know they’re sewing..?’

“I said; ‘yeah… I heard about that…’

“And then I go into make-up – and the make-up girl goes; ‘You know that bow tie?’ I said, ‘yep, I did hear… they’re sewing them on one by one.’”

But it is the Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith himself who has the final say on this sartorial adventure on the set of the show…

Nighy finishes his story by saying: “And then I go on the set and Matt Smith comes up. And he says; ‘the bow tie!’ And I said; ‘yeah, I know about the bow tie!’

“He said; ‘Well it’s only right. I’d sew shit on your tie!’

“And I said; ‘Can I quote you on that?’

“And he said; ‘Yeah!’

“’So now I am. Thank you, Matt!’”

Well, you can’t argue with the Doctor, eh!?

Matt Smith starred as the Eleventh Doctor between 2010 and 2013 and travelled with

Doctor Who will return to our screens in 2023 with three 60th-anniversary specials starring David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor alongside Catherine Tate as Donna Noble and Yasmin Finney as Rose. Neil Patrick Harris will also appear in the episodes which will be the first to air after the BBC signed a deal with Disney as the international distributor of the show on Disney+.

Season 14 of Doctor Who starring Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor and Millie Gibson as his companion Ruby Sunday is expected to begin around the festive season of 2023 with the majority of the season in 2024.