Mark Gatiss: “Doctor Who Is My Everything”

You know what? I really like Mark Gatiss. And you should too. Oh wait, this is the Internet! I’m contracted by law to add: “IMO”, even though that’s obvious.

Whether you like his episodes of Doctor Who or not, he’s an incredibly interesting man who appears much-loved and well-respected in the industry. In the words of the Wire, this one’s smart as paint. In a fascinating interview with The Guardian, Gatiss covers his favourite TV, the election, and that day, over ten years ago now, that he first heard that Doctor Who would be coming back.

And perhaps most pleasingly, he acknowledges how deeply ingrained his love for the show is:

“It’s my first love, my last, my everything. I owe it so much, because in so many ways it’s what got me interested in acting and writing.”

What’s so fresh about this (because let’s face it, we already know he loves the show) is that he’s fully prepared to admit how much he loves a TV programme, and so proudly too. It’s all too easy to belittle someone’s likes, so very few come out as fully-fledged fans of television. It’s something we don’t respect enough (again IMO!). As nonplussed as I am about John Green (author of Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns), this brings to mind a rather wonderful quotes from the writer:

“Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff. Nerds are allowed to love stuff – like, jump-up-and-down-in-you-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is, ‘You like stuff,’ which is not a good insult at all. Like, you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness.”

Gatiss goes on to recall an amazing day, now over a decade ago:

“I got a call at midnight from a friend of mine saying: ‘Are you sitting down?’ And I said: ‘No, I’m lying in bed.’ He told me: ‘Doctor Who is coming back.’ And I’m like: ‘What?’

“It was Christmas 2004. The best present I got.”

In general, we back the BBC, here at K Towers. We defend the TV license, for instance. So, too, does Gatiss, who says:

“I just can’t bear the ratings obsession. It’s the first line of every email. It’s the first thing you hear. But this is why the licence fee exists. And the BBC is copying these formats from the commercial industry and is at risk of death by 1,000 cutbacks. I just think the argument should be brought to a head with a referendum about the licence fee. ‘Do you want this or not?’ And I think 98% of the population would say: ‘Of course we do.’ Because for a paltry amount of money, it champions the right to experiment and the right to fail, and to take creative risks. The Daily Mail would cower under a rock. It’s time the BBC go grow a pair of b*ll*cks and fight back.”

In a TV first, Gatiss will appear in The Vote, an Andrew Graham play with a cast of 50, set at a polling station. On Thursday, it’s going to be broadcast live on Channel 4 from the Donmar Warehouse. It’s going to be a fascinating experiment.

Many of us feel a great unease with politics, and indeed, with life. But writers, perhaps, have a way of expressing this dissatisfaction better than many (because y’know, it’s their job), and Mark sums up the weight of the world brilliantly. I didn’t know this before, but in the last couple of years, he’s lost his mother, sister, and brother-in-law, and he says these awful events have changed the way he sees the world:

“I’ve been terribly lucky in a lot of other things in my life. But it changes everything about you. I feel both more at peace with the world and more impatient. I feel less tolerant of wasting time, but I’d also rather like to enjoy myself more, let go of things more lightly. I feel dreadfully depressed about the state of the world. I was watching the destruction of the city of Nimrod, on the news last night, and it’s just so awful. You feel so powerless about the big narrative, so I almost feel beholden to just try and pull the things together and fight for what I can, and just get on with it. We’re here for such a short time.”

Naturally, I highly advise you take a look at the full article, in which he also talks about Mandelson, Sherlock, and being a ‘political junkie’!


When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates (Kasterborous' former Editor) pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything. He is the co-founder of The Doctor Who Companion:

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