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Published on June 25th, 2010 | by Patrick Riley

Van Gogh’s Rock Music Mishap

This week brings a bit of anti-news from AntiMusic, unfortunately.  The music news site has reported some misinformation as part of the buildup for tomorrow’s North American premiere of Vincent and the Doctor.

Doctor Who once featured the Fleetwood mac tune The article claims that the appearance of the song Chances by Athlete at the episode’s emotional conclusion is the first rock song ever to appear on our beloved 47-year-old Doctor Who.

Simply put, this is false.  Rock music, in all its various sub-genres, has featured several times across multiple eras of the programme.  This pattern began in 1965, when Ticket to Ride by the Beatles (who themselves appeared in the story) was featured in Season 2′s The Chase.  Since then, Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well – Part One (pictured here) accompanied the action of 1970′s Spearhead From Space, Soft Cell’s Tainted Love served as a traditional Earth song on Platform One in 2005′s The End of the World, and The Master sang along to I Can’t Decide by the Scissor Sisters in 2007′s Last of the Time Lords.

I won’t say anything about Britney Spears’ Toxic ballad on Platform One’s “iPod,” because that hardly counts as rock.

At any rate, it’s hard to tell where the falsified information stems from, but it’s hard to blame AntiMusic, as Athlete themselves appear to believe the same story:

“We are delighted that our song Chances was chosen by the legendary Richard Curtis to be used in Doctor Who,” comment lead singer Joel Pott. “The show is such a long standing and iconic BBC drama and to be the first band to ever have a song on the soundtrack really is an honour.”

That being said, there’s no arguing that Doctor Who very rarely uses music not created specifically for the show, so to be one of the few bands to break this sound barrier so to speak, especially when another set of that small number of musicians happens to be the Beatles, is indeed something for Athlete to be proud of.

If you spawn from the vast empire of North America, you’ll get to watch Vincent and the Doctor, starring Matt Smith as the Doctor, Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, and Tony Curran as Vincent Van Gogh, tomorrow evening at 9PM ET on BBC America or Space, depending on your nation of origin.

Anything Else?

Since music from popular culture in Doctor Who is such an unseen breed, this article has mentioned a hefty percentage of them already.  But what songs have been given the award of landing in the programme that haven’t been named by this article?  Leave your comments below, and don’t feel limited to rock music!


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About the Author


Patrick is a temporal hitchhiker who spends most of his time in the future. His favourite Doctor is the Fourteenth. If you're especially lucky, you might even hear him tweet to all you merry folk in the past @10PatrickRiley.

9 Responses to Van Gogh’s Rock Music Mishap

  1. avatar Andrew Reynolds says:

    “Mr Blue Sky” by ELO in Love and Monsters springs to mind. As well as Elton John, who appears in the episode in Eltons video diary playing (i think) Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

  2. avatar 23skidoo says:

    Let’s not forget the 1950s rock and roll soundtrack to Delta and the Bannermen that included a bunch of re-recordings of tunes like Rock Around the Clock.

  3. avatar Andrew says:

    The Beatles have had 3 songs played on Doctor Who. Aside from The Chase, there was “Paperback Writer” on the juke box in the cafe the Doctor and Jamie visited in “Evil of the Daleks”. And in another cafe in the set in the 60s “Do You Want To Know a Secret” in “Remembrance of the Daleks”.

  4. avatar castellanspandrell says:

    Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division – in the background in the cafe – School Reunion.

    Over the years, I’ve read time and again that Oh Well by Fleetwood Mac is in Spearhead from Space; I think it’s meant to be in the first glimpse inside the plastics factory, but I can’t hear it anywhere, just the normal incidental music.

    I’m familiar with the longer, slower Oh Well Part 2, but it’s not on there either.

    Can anyone tell me exactly when it’s on the soundtrack?
    It doesn’t even seem to be on a radio in the factory.

  5. avatar Andrew says:

    @ castellanspandrell: It was edited out of the DVD release due to copyright laws but it originally featured in episode 1 as the dolls are being assembled in the factory. It was actually in the soundtrack, not on a radio.

    Also in Revelation of the Daleks, the DJ on Necros plays Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire” and “Eruption” by Van Halen also “Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum.

  6. avatar Christian Cawley says:

    More specifically the bit from “Oh Well” is the main riff.

    I only ever had the VHS version and it was definitely on that.

  7. avatar Patrick Riley says:

    Since I said don’t limit it to rock music I’m now going to mention the Weakest Link jingle from Bad Wolf in the EccleSeason. :D

  8. avatar YorkshireNed says:

    I am still bitter that some third-rate, dreary indie band were allowed to spoil an otherwise perfect episode. Their song already sounds dated. When I heard their debut EP on Regal Records a few years ago, I liked it but since then their only success has been “Wires” which the song used in Doctor Who sounded like a sad, desperate attempt to recreate.

  9. avatar castellanspandrell says:

    Thanks Andrew and Christian.

    Oh well! (pun intended)I don’t recall it being on the VHS version, but I’ve still got that, so may have another listen.

    I agree that the song in Vincent and the Doctor was completely useless; the scene would’ve been better with some Murray Gold, and the use of a song in this way is very obtrusive; I felt the same about the Scissor Sisters in Last of the Time Lords and a few others.

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