David Tennant as R.D. Laing in Mad to Be Normal - (c) Gizmo Films - Photo Credit: Paul Stephenson
David Tennant as R.D. Laing in Mad to Be Normal – (c) Gizmo Films – Photo Credit: Paul Stephenson

Gizmos Films, the production company for David Tennant’s new film has been busy.  They’ve got a new Twitter account  @MadToBeNormal and a Facebook site that you can follow for updated info on the film. They’ve also released several new photos, made an appearance at the Berlin Film Festival and they might even be planning a trip to the Toronto International Film Festival.

Not bad for a movie that hasn’t even finished filming.

Mad to be Normal has a number of Doctor Who connections.  First there’s the Tenth Doctor  David Tennant in the lead role as  famed psychiatrist R.D Laing.   Fans of Matt Smith’s era and Happy Porter will recognise Michael Gambon as the the bitter Kazran Sardick from The Christmas Carol.  David Bamber who portrayed Captain Quell on the Twelfth Doctor episode, Mummy on the Orient Express is also in the cast.

First official photo of Michael Gambon on set of 'Mad to be Normal' with Lucie Glynn & Tom Richards Mad to be Normal - (c) Gizmo Films - Photo Credit: Paul StephensonFirst official photo of Michael Gambon on set of 'Mad to be Normal' with Lucie Glynn & Tom Richards Mad to be Normal - (c) Gizmo Films - Photo Credit: Paul Stephenson
First official photo of Michael Gambon on set of ‘Mad to be Normal’ with Lucie Glynn & Tom Richards Mad to be Normal – (c) Gizmo Films – Photo Credit: Paul Stephenson

Scottish-born Ronald David Laing was brought up, an only child, in the Govanhill district of Glasgow. Laing worked his way through the public school system where he was described as clever, competitive and precocious, before studying medicine at Glasgow University. He failed his final exams in 1950, but after working on a psychiatric unit he passed in 1951.

David Tennant as R.D. Laing in Mad to Be Normal - (c) Gizmo Films - Photo Credit: Paul Stephenson
David Tennant as R.D. Laing in Mad to Be Normal – (c) Gizmo Films – Photo Credit: Paul Stephenson

He continued his work in psychiatry until 1964, when Laing and his colleagues created the Philadelphia Association and started a psychiatric community project at Kingsley Hall in London. It was a charity concerned with the understanding and relief of mental suffering, based in a number of houses where patients and therapists lived together. But the psychiatric establishment regularly tried to close Kingsley Hall, seeing the occasional therapeutic use of LSD and Laing’s belief in metanoia (self-healing) as irresponsible and unscientific.

David Tennant as R.D. Laing in Mad to Be Normal - (c) Gizmo Films - Photo Credit: Paul Stephenson
David Tennant as R.D. Laing in Mad to Be Normal – (c) Gizmo Films – Photo Credit: Paul Stephenson

Always controversial, Laing challenged many beliefs surrounding mental illnesses believing that diagnosis of mental illness did not follow a traditional medical model. He maintained that schizophrenia was “a theory not a fact” and he questioned the use of antipsychotics. Laing also believed that mental illness was a sane response to an insane world.

Written and directed by Robert Mullan, the biopic focuses on psychiatrist R.D. Laing (David Tennant), the “Acid Marxist” of the 1960s and ’70s. From 1965 to 1970, Laing ran an experimental community in Kingsley Hall where patients with mental disorders and their doctors lived together as one. Kingsley Hall embraced the hippie culture and the psychotic and the schizophrenic had a refuge free of door locks and anti-psychotic drugs. But not necessarily all drugs. Several patients and doctors including Liang took LSD and smoked pot at the facilities.

Mad to be Normal also stars Elisabeth Moss, Gabriel Bryne, Michael Gambon and David Bamber. It is written and directed by Robert Mullen, executive produced Peter Gerard Dunphy and produced by Phin Glynn, Charlotte Arden, Alan Latham.

The movie is currently filming in Yorkshire and London . It is expected to be released the Autumn.


Mad to be Normal
Official Synopsis

Mad to be Normal (Previously titled ‘Metanoia’) is the story of controversial Scottish psychiatrist, R.D. Laing and the infamous anti-psychiatry experiment he ran at Kingsley Hall- a medication-free sanctuary which made headlines around the world. During the 1960s and 1970s Laing was an international celebrity. In Santa Monica, 4,000 people turned out to see him perform a lecture, a week after Bob Dylan had pulled in the same number. A radio journalist confidently referred to him as the “white Martin Luther King.” His books topped student reading lists the world over, as his language excited and enthralled them: “a child born today stands a 10 times greater chance of being admitted to a mental hospital than to a university….perhaps it is our very way of educating them that is driving them mad… [and]…”so- called ‘normal men’ have in the last 50 years killed perhaps 100 million of their fellow normal men”. It was opinions like these which turned the psychiatric establishment against him.

Director: Robert Mullan
Producers: Phin Glynn, Charlotte Arden, Alan Latham
Executive Producers: Peter Dunphy

Starring:

DAVID TENNANT
ELISABETH MOSS
GABRIEL BYRNE
MICHAEL GAMBON
DAVID BAMBER

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