Movie filmed in York and starring David Tennant hits cinemas this weekend

David Tennant stars as RD Laing in Mad To Be Normal

A movie starring David Tennant and shot in York is released this weekend.

Mad To Be Normal is the story of controversial Scottish psychiatrist RD Laing and the infamous anti-psychiatry experiment he ran at Kingsley Hall, London – a medication-free sanctuary which made headlines around the world.

Tennant plays Laing, and filmed scenes at various locations around the University of York. He was joined by Elisabeth Moss, best known as copywriter Peggy Olson in Mad Men, as Laing’s love interest Angie Wood.

Uni stars

Rolling back the years… Some of the student extras with Professor Koen Lamberts, University of York vice-chancellor. Photograph: Suzy Harrison
Nearly 100 staff and students were cast as extras in the film, wearing 1960s costume.

Scenes were shot outside Heslington Hall and inside the lecture theatre in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television.

Several students from that department also worked alongside the film crew as runners, in the wardrobe department, and in technical production as part of a green screen shoot in one of the university TV studios.

On location at Heslington Hall

Spellbinding monologue

Alice Mannix, content and communications manager at York, starred as an extra in the film.

“It was great to see everyone in their retro costumes, including David Tennant’s fetching velvet suit,” he said.

“There was a real buzz as we all filed into the theatre, film and television lecture theatre to watch his spellbinding monologue, and I got the feeling I wasn’t the only one who didn’t have to act when we were asked to respond with rapturous applause.

“Despite the 8am start, it was a really fun day and I can’t wait to see the university on the big screen!”

Elisabeth Moss plays Angie Wood
RD Laing (David Tennant) was a controversial psychiatrist

Mad To Be Normal has had good reviews. Tennant “is on pugnacious, mercurial and beady-eyed form in this very interesting and absorbing film”, said the Guardian.

During the 1960s and 1970s Laing was an international celebrity. In Santa Monica, 4,000 people once turned out to see him perform a lecture.

The film is released this month at over 30 cinemas across the UK. A screening will take place at City Screen, York, on Sunday (April 9) at 8pm.