Mark Gatiss

Mark Gatiss
Mark Gatiss

Gatiss in 2008
Born 17 October 1966 (1966-10-17) (age 45)
Sedgefield, County Durham, England
Occupation Actor, screenwriter, television producer, comedian, novelist
Years active 1993–present
Spouse Ian Hallard (2008-present)[1]

Mark Gatiss (born 17 October 1966) is an English actor, screenwriter and novelist. He is best known as a member of the comedy team The League of Gentlemen, and has both written for and acted in the TV series Doctor Who and Sherlock.


Personal life

Gatiss was born in Sedgefield,[2] England, where he grew up opposite the Edwardian psychiatric hospital where both his parents worked. His childhood passions included watching Doctor Who and Hammer Horror films on television, reading Sherlock Holmes and H. G. Wells, and collecting fossils. All of these interests have fuelled his creative work as an adult.[3][4][5][6]

He attended Heighington CE Primary School and Woodham Comprehensive School in Newton Aycliffe; at the latter, he was two years ahead of Paul Magrs, who would also go on to write Doctor Who fiction.[7][8]

He is openly gay and featured on The Independent on Sunday's Pink List of influential gay people in the UK in 2010[9] and 2011[10]. He is married to actor Ian Hallard, and has a Labrador, 'Bunsen'.[1] He once built a Victorian laboratory in their London home, as the fulfilment of another childhood dream.[3]

Early writing work

Following his childhood interest in Doctor Who, Gatiss's early writing was devoted to the series. His earliest published fiction was a sequence of novels in Virgin Publishing's New Adventures series of Doctor Who stories, beginning with Nightshade in 1992. In these works, Gatiss tried to correct the problems which had led to the show's decline in the late 1980s.[4]

The first television scripts he wrote were for a BBV video series called P.R.O.B.E., four low budget, short Doctor Who spin-off films which were on video. Although the films featured the ex-Doctors Jon Pertwee, Colin Baker and Peter Davison, they have not been reissued on DVD. Gatiss said in a 2004 interview that he would not authorise their re-release as regarded them as having been a learning exercise.[4]

His other early contributions to the Doctor Who franchise included four novels, two audio plays for BBV and two audio plays for Big Finish Productions.[11][12]


The League of Gentlemen

Gatiss is perhaps best known as a member of the sketch comedy team The League of Gentlemen (along with fellow performers Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and co-writer Jeremy Dyson). He first met his co-writers and performers in his late teens at Bretton Hall, West Yorkshire, a drama school which he attended after finishing school and having spent a gap year travelling around Europe.

The League of Gentlemen began as a stage act in 1995, which won the Perrier Award at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1997.[3] In the same year the show transferred to BBC Radio 4 as On the Town with the League of Gentlemen, and later arrived on television on BBC Two in 1999. The television programme has earned Gatiss and his colleagues a British Academy Television Award, a Royal Television Society Award and the prestigious Golden Rose of Montreux.

In 2005, the film The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse was released, to less enthusiastic reviews. The comedy team has never split up, and may work together again in future.[3]

Other television work

Outside of the League, Gatiss' television work has included writing for the 2001 revival of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and script editing the popular sketch show Little Britain in 2003, making guest appearances in both. In 2001 he guested in Spaced as a villainous government employee modelled on the character of Agent Smith from The Matrix film series. In the same year he appeared in several editions of the documentary series, "SF:UK". Other acting appearances include the comedy-drama In the Red (BBC Two, 1998), the macabre sitcom Nighty Night (BBC Three, 2003), Agatha Christie's Marple as Ronald Hawes in The Murder at the Vicarage, a guest appearance in the Vic & Bob series Catterick in 2004 and the live 2005 remake of the classic science fiction serial The Quatermass Experiment. A second series of Nighty Night and the new comedy-drama Funland, the latter co-written by his League cohort Jeremy Dyson, both featured Gatiss and aired on BBC Three in the autumn of 2005. He appeared as Johnnie Cradock, alongside Nighty Night star Julia Davis as Fanny Cradock, in Fear of Fanny on BBC Four in October 2006, and featured as Ratty in a new production of The Wind in the Willows shown on BBC One on 1 January 2007. He wrote and starred in the BBC Four docudrama The Worst Journey in the World, based on the memoir by polar explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard.

Gatiss has also appeared twice in Doctor Who. In 2007, he played Professor Lazarus in "The Lazarus Experiment"[13] and in 2011 he returned in the Series 6 episode "The Wedding of River Song" as a character known as Gantok.

Also in 2007, he appeared as Robert Louis Stevenson[14] in Jekyll, a BBC One serial by his fellow Doctor Who scriptwriter Steven Moffat.[15] In 2008 he appeared in Clone as Colonel Black. He also made a guest appearance in Pemberton and Shearsmith's comedy series Psychoville. In 2010 he portrayed Malcolm MacLaren in the BBC drama Worried About The Boy which focused on the life and career of Boy George, and also appeared uncredited as Mycroft Holmes in the BBC drama Sherlock, which he co-created with Steven Moffat.

He adapted HG Wells' The First Men In the Moon as a 2010 television film of the same name for the BBC, also playing Professor Cavor.[2][16]

In 2010 he also made a three-part BBC documentary series entitled A History of Horror, a personal exploration of the history of horror cinema.[17]

Radio, stage and film

Gatiss appears frequently in BBC Radio productions, including the science fiction comedy Nebulous and The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes story The Shameful Betrayal of Miss Emily Smith. In 2009 he was The Man in Black when BBC Radio 7 revived the character (originally played by Valentine Dyall and Edward de Souza) to introduce a series of five creepy audio dramas. He is also involved with theatre, having penned the play The Teen People in the early 1990s, and appeared in a successful run of the play 'Art' in 2003 at the Whitehall Theatre in London. In film, he has starred in Sex Lives of the Potato Men (2004) and had minor roles in Birthday Girl (2001), Bright Young Things (2003), Match Point (2005) and Starter for 10 (2006). The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse, a film based on the television series, co-written by and starring Gatiss, was released in June 2005. He also plays the recurring character of Gold in the audio revivial of Sapphire and Steel produced by Big Finish Productions. Gatiss also appeared in Edgar Wright's fake trailer for Grindhouse, Don't, a homage to 70's Hammer Horrors.

In the 2008 English language DVD re-release of the cult 2006 Norwegian animated film Free Jimmy, Gatiss voiced the character of "Jakki", a heavy-set, bizarrely dressed biker member of the "Lappish Mafia". In this his voice is used along with the other actors of League of Gentlemen such as Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith. The dialogue was written by Simon Pegg and other actors included Pegg himself, Woody Harrelson, and David Tennant, who worked with Gatiss on Doctor Who.

Mark appeared in the stage adaptation of Pedro Almodóvar's All About My Mother at the Old Vic in London from 25 Aug-24 Nov 2007. He won much critical acclaim for his portrayal of the semi-transsexual Agrado.

Mark was scheduled to perform in Darker Shores by Michael Punter, a ghost story for all the family, at Hampstead Theatre 3 December 2009 - 16 January 2010 but had to withdraw after a serious family illness. Tom Goodman-Hill took over his role.[18]

In March 2010 he was a guest on Private Passions, the biographical music discussion programme on BBC Radio 3.[19]

From December 2010 to March 2011 Gatiss was playing the role of Bernard in Alan Ayckbourn's Season's Greetings at the Royal National Theatre in London alongside Catherine Tate.


Fulfilling a lifelong dream, Gatiss has written four episodes for the 2005-revived BBC television series Doctor Who. His first, "The Unquiet Dead" was only the third episode of the revived series in 2005; the second, "The Idiot's Lantern", aired the following year in the second series.[20] After a sabbatical from the third series (in which he acted in rather than wrote for), and his submitted script for the fourth series, involving Nazis and the British Museum, remaining unmade, he eventually returned to the programme as of 2010, writing "Victory of the Daleks" for the fifth series, and "Night Terrors" for the sixth.

Gatiss has written two episodes of Sherlock, a modern Sherlock Holmes series co-produced by himself and Steven Moffat. The unaired pilot was shot in January 2009 and a full series was commissioned, eventually airing a three-episode series in August 2010 (including Gatiss's episode "The Great Game"). A second series (featuring Gatiss's second contribution "The Hounds of Baskerville") has been shot and is awaiting transmission.

Gatiss wrote and performed the comedy sketches The Web of Caves, The Kidnappers and The Pitch of Fear for the BBC's "Doctor Who Night" in 1999 with Little Britain's David Walliams, and played the Master in the Doctor Who Unbound play Sympathy for the Devil under the name "Sam Kisgart", a pseudonym he later used for a column in Doctor Who Magazine. (The pseudonym is an anagram]of "Mark Gatiss", a nod to Anthony Ainley, who was sometimes credited under an anagram to conceal the Master's identity from the viewers.) The pseudonym was used again in television listings magazines when he appeared in episode four of Psychoville, so as not to spoil his surprise appearance in advance[citation needed].

In mainstream print, Gatiss is responsible for a biography of the film director James Whale. His first non-Doctor Who novel, The Vesuvius Club, was published in 2004, for which he was nominated in the category of Best Newcomer in the 2006 British Book Awards. A follow up, The Devil in Amber, was released on 6 November 2006. It transports the main character, Lucifer Box, from the Edwardian era in the first book to the roaring Twenties/Thirties. A third and final Lucifer Box novel, Black Butterfly, was published on 3 November 2008 by Simon & Schuster[21].

Lately, Gatiss has often been seen as the writer, producer, and star of a string of projects for the BBC Four channel, including The Worst Journey In The World, the Christmas ghost story Crooked House, an adaptation of HG Wells' The First Men In The Moon, and the documentary series A History Of Horror.



Doctor Who novels

Doctor Who anthology contributions

The League Of Gentlemen (with Jeremy Dyson, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith)

Lucifer Box novels

Miscellaneous non-fiction

Miscellaneous fiction

Audio plays

Doctor Who (and related)


  1. ^ a b Randall, Lee (17 November 2008). "The Monday Interview: Mark Gatiss - Top of the League - The Scotsman". Retrieved 2010-10-28. "Amid all this activity, Gatiss found time, last spring, to get married. He and Ian have been together for nearly a decade... He and Ian are the devoted 'parents' of Bunsen, a Labrador retriever." 
  2. ^ a b Jeffries, Stuart (2010-10-11). "Mark Gatiss: Rocket man". The Guardian. 
  3. ^ a b c d Michael Deacon (2010-10-15). "Mark Gatiss: the journey of a geek made good". The Daily Telegraph. 
  4. ^ a b c Stephen Phelan (2004-11-07). "Renaissance gentleman". The Sunday Herald. Retrieved 2010-11-23. 
  5. ^ Angelique Chrisafis (2004-11-03). "A league of his own". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-11-24. 
  6. ^ "Film Info. Interview with Steve Pemberton and Mark Gatiss". The League of 2004-11-07. Retrieved 2010-11-24. 
  7. ^ "Remembering Heighington's past with pride; The headteacher". The Northern Echo. 26 March 2007. "One Heighington alumnus is actor Mark Gattis, the star of hit comedies The League of Gentlemen and Little Britain." 
  8. ^ Pratt, Steve (8 May 2007). "Golly goth". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 25 June 2010. "Coincidentally, another Doctor Who fan and novel writer, The League of Gentlemen's Mark Gatiss also went to Woodhall, where he was two years above Magrs and in the same drama group." 
  9. ^ "The IoS Pink List 2010". The Independent on Sunday. 1 August 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2010. "The League of Gentlemen star is set for a bonanza 2010. As well as co-creating the BBC's acclaimed Sherlock Holmes reboot, he'll soon be seen in his adaptation of HG Wells's First Men in the Moon. An appearance in an Alan Ackybourn revival at the National Theatre is also mooted." 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Doctor Who - Invaders From Mars
  12. ^ Doctor Who - Phantasmagoria
  13. ^ "Doctor Who baddie role for Barlow". BBC News Online. 2006-09-28. Retrieved 2006-09-28. 
  14. ^ "I Always Wanted to be a Rat". The Northern Echo. 2006-12-20. Retrieved 2007-01-06. 
  15. ^ "Mark Gatiss joines James Nesbitt in BBC One's Jekyll". 2006-11-16. Retrieved 2006-11-16. 
  16. ^ Moonstruck Mark Gatiss Sends HG Wells Into Orbit Herald Scotland - October 2010
  17. ^ "A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss - Q&A with Mark Gatiss". BBC. Retrieved 2010-11-12. 
  18. ^ "It's on with the show (From Watford Observer)". 2009-12-10. Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  19. ^ "Private Passions". BBC Radio 3. 
  20. ^ "Mark Gatiss Presents Doctor Who Documentary". BBC. 
  21. ^ "Mark Gatiss - Official Publisher Page". Simon & Schuster. 

External links

Preceded by
Simon Pegg
Narrator of Doctor Who Confidential
Succeeded by
Anthony Head

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