Last Night’s TV – Van Gogh: Painted with Words

I must say, the BBC came up trumps yesterday; with vacuous and largely yawn-making scheduling on other terrestrial channels, Aunty Beeb went all out to provide thought provoking and entertaining shows that required an IQ bigger than your shoe size to appreciate.

And appreciate I did when all about me, well worn movies and vapid game shows tried to suck out my brain cells. Most especially appreciated was this docu-drama about the utterly mad and utterly gifted Van Gogh…

Narrated by Alan Yentob and starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Van Gogh – don’t you just love that name?? It should really appear in the pages of Harry Potter – we heard and saw just how this legendary man came to acquire his posthumous status as one of the world’s greatest artists.

And a fascinating story it was too, made all the better knowing that every word and deed was faithfully adapted verbatim from over 900 letters that Vincent wrote to his brother Theo.

It was a tale of a descent into madness that would ultimately end in Vincent’s untimely death, and a life where debauchery and an apparent total lack of self-control saw him shunned by his own family and society at large.

We heard about his nomadic existence as he flitted from one place to another, looking for work and failing in pretty much everything he tried to do, with the exception of producing beautiful drawings and paintings. But of course, he wasn’t destined to live long enough to enjoy the wealth and adulation that were coming.

Instead, he was a tortured soul, and, some might argue, a pervert. But that his work belied his utterly chaotic life and mind is without question, and it’s a legacy that will ensure that Vincent Van Gogh is not likely to be forgotten.

If you missed this drama, you can catch it here on BBC’s iPlayer.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.