The Four Weddings and a Funeral writer revealed to the Radio Times that he would not make any jokes about the 19th Century artists ear slicing incident, to which he probably owes at least half his fame for along with such brilliant works as ‘Starry Night’ and ‘Sunflowers’.
“I tried to do well by van Gogh, to be truthful rather than cruel.”
Curtis likened his treatment of Van Gogh in Doctor Who (played in Vincent and the Doctor by Tony Curran) to historical figures in Blackadder, the sitcom he co-wrote with both Rowan Atkinson and Ben Elton.
“When we did Blackadder, our duty was to undermine the reputation of these historical characters,” Curtis added. “So the Scarlet Pimpernel was a hideous show-off and Sir Walter Raleigh a spectacular bore.”
It is thought that Van Gogh cut off his ear in a fit of rage with fellow artist Paul Gauguin the artist most famous for his work ‘Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?’
Van Gogh had invited to join him in Arles in the south of France to live with him in the Yellow House he had set up as a “studio of the south” cut his own ear off, walked 300 metres to a brothel and presented it to a horrified prostitute called Rachael.
However in 2009 it was claimed by two German historians Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans that Gauguin severed the ear with a fencing sword during a heated argument (Gauguin was a keen fencer) and then tried to hush up the story to be rid of Vincent with whom his relationship had soured.
For a comprehensive overview of those tumultuous months these two great painters spent together check out ‘The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and the Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles’ by Martin Gayford, from Amazon for as little as Â£3.56. The television adaptation featured the Master himself John Simm as Vincent Van Gogh but this is unfortunately unavailable on DVD.
Vincent And The Doctor airs this Saturday at 6.40pm on BBC One and BBC HD
(Via Digital Spy)