Mark Gatiss, (born 17 October 1966) credited on three occasions as Sam Kisgart and once as Rondo Haxton, has been a major creative force in the production of Doctor Who fiction since the 1990s. Given his accomplishments as a Doctor Who author, screenwriter, audio writer, audio actor, screen actor, documentary narrator, and documentary subject, his contribution to the Doctor Who franchise is unique.
For Doctor Who, Gatiss writes it so the Doctor usually cannot gain a complete victory or someone else has to step in to save the day. For the former, Victory of the Daleks has the Daleks escape to rebuild their race, but the Doctor save the Earth from a bomb. With the latter, it tends to fall to the companions or a one-off character.
Televised Doctor Who[edit | edit source]
In terms of televised Doctor Who, as of 2020[update], Gatiss has contributed nine scripts and made five guest appearances since the series' revival, and been a narrator and a subject of Doctor Who Confidential.
Gatiss holds the distinction of being the very first credited contract writer of the revived series - the story The Unquiet Dead was the first broadcast not to be written by showrunner and Executive Producer Russell T Davies (who wrote the debut episodes Rose and The End of the World). Gatiss would remain the only credited writer other than Davies for the first five weeks of the show - almost half of the first series.
Although other writers had enjoyed small roles in the 1963 version of Doctor Who, he was the first to have not just one, but two large speaking roles — Professor Richard Lazarus, the titular villain of The Lazarus Experiment, and "the Captain" in Twice Upon a Time. During Steven Moffat's time as showrunner, Gatiss was the only writer other than Moffat himself to write a script for every season.
He later returned to make two brief, uncredited appearances during the Matt Smith era as a Spitfire Pilot in Victory of the Daleks and A Good Man Goes to War. He then made a credited return to the programme as Gantok in The Wedding of River Song.
In series 5's Victory of the Daleks, Gatiss became one of few people to have written and acted in the same episode of Doctor Who, and he claimed that it also made him "the first and only person so far to write for the series and be in it twice".
With his role in this episode, Gatiss also achieved something of another Doctor Who record. As of June 2012[update], he has acted with nine of the eleven actors to have played the Doctor, though not always when that actor was playing the Doctor. Matt Smith was the sixth different Doctor he had encountered in a piece of performed Doctor Who. Later, in 2017's Twice Upon a Time, Gatiss further appeared alongside the then-outgoing Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi, as well as David Bradley, who was playing the same role as the late William Hartnell's First Doctor.
Series 8's Robot of Sherwood, gave Gatiss the opportunity to write for his ninth Doctor, across all media. This equalled the nine Doctors written for by Terrance Dicks'. Both Gatiss and Dicks are behind Paul Cornell, however, who has written for 12 Doctors, As of September 2020[update]. (if the Shalka Doctor is counted)
Doctor Who work in other media[edit | edit source]
Outside the programme proper, he has written various officially licensed novels, televised spoofs and audio plays, and has sometimes lent his voice to Big Finish Productions. Counting BBC-made spoofs and these audios, he is alone with Sir Derek Jacobi in having played both the Doctor and the Master.
Gatiss also wrote the docu-drama An Adventure in Space and Time. A dramatised account of William Hartnell's tenure as the Doctor, it was produced and broadcast as part of the show's 50th anniversary celebrations. He portrayed the Third Doctor in the accompanying Another Doctor extra.
Work with Doctor Who personnel outside of the programme[edit | edit source]
Gatiss also has significant relationships with Doctor Who luminaries that extend beyond the programme itself. For instance, he is a frequent collaborator with Steven Moffat, with whom he created and produced Sherlock, a TV series which started airing in 2010. He also played Robert Louis Stevenson in Moffat's Jekyll.
He has had some form of professional or semi-professional contact with every actor to have played the Doctor except William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton. David Tennant is his most common acting partner amongst people who've played the Doctor. They've been on screen together on several occasions — most prominently in The Quatermass Experiment and the episode "Drop Dead" of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), which also featured Jessica Hynes. He's also been alongside Tennant in Bright Young Things, which also co-starred Fenella Woolgar, Stephen Fry, Bill Paterson, Richard E Grant, and Jim Broadbent; and the English-language cast of the Norwegian animated adventure Free Jimmy, with Simon Pegg, Jim Broadbent and Steve Pemberton. He and Tom Baker have occasionally crossed paths, through their mutual connection to Matt Lucas. Gatiss script edited several episodes of Little Britain, on which Baker was the regular narrator, and fellow Doctor Who Confidential narrator, Anthony Head, played a leading role. Later, he and Baker both appeared as actors in Lucas' The Wind in the Willows. Christopher Eccleston once appeared on an episode of Gatiss' show, The League of Gentlemen. He and Peter Davison were in several BBV productions at the start of Gatiss' career, but following that, they have acted together in the Big Finish Productions audio stories The Sirens of Time and Phantasmagoria. By virtue of his participation in The Zero Imperative, he's acted on-screen alongside Caroline John, Jon Pertwee, Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker, Louise Jameson, and Sophie Aldred.
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Footnotes[edit | edit source]
- DWDVDF 139
- The Wedding of River Song
- "Mark Gatiss on Victory of the Daleks". SFX. 11 April 2010.
- Although Elisabeth Sladen appeared alongside nine incarnations of the Doctor, one of "her" Doctors is Richard Hurndall, and she never appeared with William Hartnell, Paul McGann or Christopher Eccleston.