‘Sherlock’ and ‘Doctor Who’ News from Mark Gatiss’s AMA
Writer and actor Mark Gatiss, known to many of us for his work with both Doctor Who and Sherlock, held a Reddit AMA today where he answered many fan questions. While he generally avoided anything that would be too spoilery or political, he did reveal several of his desires for the two shows he’s currently working on as well as hints at other possible projects. It also gave him a chance to let loose and be a bit of a fanboy himself, which is always delightful to see from the creators of some of your favorite shows.
The most politically oriented question Gatiss answered was about GLBTQ+ representation on his shows. He skipped most of the questions involving shipping, but answered a user that asked him if he was planning “on including anymore cannon LGBTQA+ characters in any of the shows you write for?”
“Well in terms of Canonical characters, not quite sure what you mean? I’m proud and happy to support and promote LGBTQA rights wherever I can. But I don’t want programmes I am associated with to have to bear the weight of too much expectation or responsibility. I think the real victory will come when characters can be incidentally gay without it having to become the focus of the storyline or of the audience’s attention.”
As Gatiss is a gay man, his response to this question is one worth noting as he’s speaking from the perspective of someone within the community. Many of us look forward to the day when a character can be “incidentally gay,” as Gatiss puts it. The inclusion of these characters doesn’t have to be political, which Gatiss states that he wants to avoid in his work, but in today’s climate even secondary characters like Madame Vastra and Jenny have become a point of controversy. Their kiss in the first episode of the season received complaints (only 6, but still, it happened) and became a point of controversy in several online discussions. Hopefully the day will come when this won’t have to be the case.
Gatiss also had interesting things to say about the future of TV in relation to new technology and social media.
G: I think we’re living in a fascinating new age for broadcasting. People are watching TV and movies in an entirely new way. And I think the age of overnight ratings, etcetera, is over. Also, people are able to send their programmes directly to the consumer, who can watch 13 episodes in one day if they so please. It’s slightly alarming, but very exciting. And I think we’re on the cusp of a huge change in the way television is made.
Of course, Gatiss spent a lot of time answering fun questions like what his favorite cheese is and what he had for breakfast. When asked what his “greatest achievement” was there was an “aww” worthy moment where he responded “Meetings and marrying my husband.” When asked if “tree falls in the middle of the forest. Is Benedict Cumberbatch still sexy?” he responded “Haha! Ask the tree!” AMA’s can be enjoyable simply for the chance to watch our favorite celebrities goof off with fans for a bit, but they can also be source of information and insights you don’t get anywhere else. In the pile of questions he answered (and he answered a lot), there were also a few interesting gems regarding what’s coming up for him and what he hopes to accomplish in the future.
During the course of the AMA, Gatiss revealed that as soon as he was done answering questions he was going to go back to writing Sherlock season 4. His responses about what was to come were vague. When asked if the upcoming season would make us cry he responded “It depends on how sentimental you are…” No, Mr Gatiss, it will make us cry and you know that. Don’t be coy. This sort of teasing tone surrounded most of the discussions concerning the show.
Q: How could you and the folks at BBC be so mean and suggest so many different theories on the Fall in ONE DAMN EPISODE?
Gatiss: Em… because we are mean. Hahaha! Because we are mean. And secretly, you love it.
He has a good point. If we didn’t enjoy the constant emotional drain, the narrative trolling, and secrecy we might not keep coming back season after season. The ratings, awards, and generally positive online reviews make this not suck a big secret. But man, that was some of the most hardcore trolling I’ve seen play out on my TV.
He also touched upon what he’d like to do in the future on Sherlock.
Q: What Sherlock Holmes stories, or elements of, would you still like to adapt for Sherlock?
Gatiss: I’d love to do The Red-Headed League for Sherlock! One of these days…
Gatiss also seemed delighted to be able to talk about Mycroft Holmes and what’s it like to be on the set of the show he also writes for.
I love doing both [acting and writing]. The writing is very satisfying, because it takes an awfully long time, and it’s great to see something come to life. But I also love playing Mycroft, and it’s lovely to hang out with the rest of the cast.
When asked about what Mycroft’s guilty pleasure was (besides cake, which is an Internet cultural reference that seemed to go over Gatiss’s head), he responded that it was “telling criminals that they’ve served their time, and then changing his mind and putting them back in prison for the rest of their lives!” I can imagine Mycroft cackling when he does this. Despite both Gatiss and Mycroft being clearly evil, he doesn’t seem to think they really have all that much in common.
I look like him. That’s a big similarity. Not a lot. I wish I was a millionth as clever as he is. I hope I’m a lot warmer, as a person, than he is. So not a lot, really. He has more hair than me, doesn’t he, at the moment, but that’s another story! In the original stories, Mycroft is very fat, so we’ve given him an ongoing paranoia about his weight, so I did a scene where I ran on a treadmill last year, and I’ve subsequently taken up running, which I enjoy tremendously. So there is that.
In case you weren’t aware, Gatiss’s first episode of the season airs this Saturday. The episode is titled “Robot of Sherwood” and takes Clara and the Doctor back in time to the Robinhood era. The Doctor is insistent that Robinhood isn’t real, but, well, watch the trailer and see what you’re in for this weekend.
Gatiss didn’t drop any major Doctor Who spoilers during the AMA either, but he did talk a lot about what he’d like to do given the chance.
[All of my Doctor Who episodes have] been set in the past except for Night Terrors which was set in the present-day. But yes, I do have a preference for historical stories. But I would love to do one set in the future.
I was hoping to do another ghost story for this Christmas, but I’m afraid it hasn’t happened. But I’d certainly like to do more ghost stories.
I’ve [acted on] Doctor Who twice. So it might look a bit greedy if I did it again! But i’d be very happy to, if anybody asked.
If I’m still doing Sherlock and Doctor Who in 5 years, I’ll be very pleased.
When asked about Capaldi, he was also very enthusiastic about the changeover.
I love his unpredictability: his slightly inhuman quality: I love his skinniness, his big hands, his mad eyes, and his charm. And the fact that he is Peter Capaldi.
Gatiss also took the opportunity to fanboy about Doctor Who and his work on An Adventure in Space and Time.
It was something I’d wanted to do for 13 years, since I first came up with the idea and started to work on it, so it was a very long-held ambition to do it. And it was kind of blessed from the beginning, really… David Bradley was amazing to work with, and we had an amazing cast and crew. And the original members of the Dr. Who team were incredibly helpful and kind. So I think, probably, the best part about it was seeing the Tardis re-created, the original Tardis, and seeing David on it, it was very very moving indeed.
Gatiss also mentioned that his favorite moment from creating Doctor Who was the moment that Russel T Davis called him to hire him. Gatiss may be an actor and a writer, but he can ramble with fannish glee just like the rest of us. It’s humbling seeing him get so excited about the work he’s doing. He’s a fan who gets to live his dream and work on two of his favorite pieces of media. He always talks with such gratitude about being given these opportunities and I’m glad that someone who is a massive fan gets to work on projects like Doctor Who.
There was plenty of fun opportunity to talk about both Doctor Who and Sherlock in relation to each other. When asked if the Daleks or Moriarty were the greater evil he responded with a horrifying answer that I hope inspires lots of fun fan art.
I should say the Daleks, because they operate on an inter- galactic scale, whereas Moriarty’s ambitions are a bit more to scale. But you put Moriarty inside a Dalek… if he were small enough to fit…
Someone should get on doodling some Moriarty as a Dalek fanart right away.
Gatiss also revealed that there has been a crossover between the two franchises (besides himself, of course). Peter Davison has an uncredited cameo as the voice in the Planetarium in the Great Game. Even though I’m a huge fan of both shows, this is a cross over I was unaware of until now. He also went on to talk about current castmembers and what roles they might play if they were to switch shows.
Benedict is very good at playing goodies and baddies, and he’d probably prefer to play the baddie wouldn’t he? So just to make him suffer, I think I’d make him, possibly, dressed in a giant mouse costume. Just so no one knew it was him! Maybe he’s already been in it, hahaha! Oh! Martin, he’d love to be a baddie in Doctor Who. Maybe he could be Davros. So he could sit down, and he loves to sit down, so he’d have a wheelchair and be quite pleased about that.
Again, more crossover fanart anyone? Who doesn’t want to see Benedict Cumberbatch in a mouse costume? Make it so, Internet.
He also discussed the differences between writing for the two shows.
Sherlock is… to a greater or lesser extent, in the real world. Dr. Who is not. So it’s harder to get out of a Sherlock mystery without having to use Daleks or spaceships.
Another topic touched upon is how the love of both of these pieces of media are what brought Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss together in the first place.
Steve and I met at a party about… twenty years ago? And we used to get drunk, and try and pitch bringing back Dr. Who to any BBC executive we could find in the room. That was the basis of our friendship from the beginning! And then we discovered we also love Sherlock Holmes, and the rest is infamy!
While none of this is really breaking news, it’s fun to see a creator from both shows speculate about crossover and have another opportunity to express some fannish joy about them.
Other Upcoming Projects
Gatiss hinted several times through the AMA that he was considering projects beyond Doctor Who and Sherlock at the moment.
I don’t really want to do old things, I want to do new things. the problem is it’s very hard to convince people to do new things, because if you have an existing brand or story, then half the battle is won because people know what it is. I’m very proud and happy to have been associated with Doctor Who and bringing back Sherlock in its current form, but in terms of other projects, I’d like to do new things, but it’s difficult to get them off the ground. There are stories and things I’d like to adapt, but not because they’ve been done before, but because they are favourites, really.
He ended this comment with the ominous phrase “Stay tuned.” This wasn’t the only hint there there could be other projects in the works. He also mentioned that’d he’d be having lunch with the people from League of Gentlemen because he has an “idea.” He also mentioned what a pleasure it was to work on the set of Game of Thrones, but he skipped most other GOT questions asked during the AMA. Details about the extent of his role next season will just have to come from Game of Thrones sources it seems.
Overall the AMA offered some interesting insights, though not too much heavy information when it comes to spoilers on his projects. That’s the be expected, though. Him and Moffat tend to keep things very tightly sealed. Either way, it was a very pleasant AMA and it was great seeing Gatiss interact with fans.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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