Mark Gatiss

Mark Gatiss

Born (1966-10-17) 17 October 1966
Sedgefield, County Durham, England[1]
Occupation Actor, screenwriter, television producer, comedian, novelist, director
Years active 1993–present
Spouse(s) Ian Hallard (2008–present)[2]
Mark Gatiss's voice
from the BBC programme Desert Island Discs, 23 October 2011.[3]

Mark Gatiss (/ˈɡtɪs/ GAY-tis;[4] born 17 October 1966) is an English actor, comedian, screenwriter and novelist. Some of his notable works include writing for and acting in TV series Doctor Who and Sherlock, the latter of which he also co-created. He is a member of the comedy team The League of Gentlemen alongside Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and co-writer Jeremy Dyson.

Early life and education

Gatiss was born in Sedgefield, County Durham,[5] England, to Winifred Rose (née O'Kane, 19312003) and Maurice Gatiss (1931). He grew up opposite the Edwardian psychiatric hospital where his father worked.[6] His family background is working class.[6] 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.[7][8][9][10]

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.[11][12] He then studied Theatre Arts at Bretton Hall College which was an arts college affiliated to Leeds University.[13][14]



The League of Gentlemen

Gatiss is 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, 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.[7] 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 generally positive reviews.[7]

Shearsmith and Pemberton reunited in 2009 to create a similarly dark BBC sitcom, Psychoville, which featured an episode guest-starring Gatiss. The three reunited again in 2012 to film a series of sketches for the fourth series of CBBC show Horrible Histories.

Other television work

Mark Gatiss at "A Scandal in Belgravia" episode screening

Outside of the League, Gatiss' television work has included writing for the 2001 revival of Randall & Hopkirk 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"[15] 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[16] in Jekyll, a BBC One serial by his fellow Doctor Who scriptwriter Steven Moffat.[17] 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 McLaren in the BBC drama Worried About the Boy which focused on the life and career of Boy George, and also appeared as Mycroft Holmes in the BBC drama Sherlock, which he co-created with Steven Moffat. He adapted H.G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon into a television film of the same name for the BBC, also playing Professor Cavor.[5][18] He also made a three-part BBC documentary series entitled A History of Horror, a personal exploration of the history of horror cinema.[19] This was followed on 30 October 2012 with a look at European horror with the documentary Horror Europa.[20]

On 25 December 2013, a version of the ghost story "The Tractate Middoth" by horror writer M. R. James and adapted by Gatiss was broadcast on BBC2 as part of the long-running A Ghost Story for Christmas series. It starred Sacha Dhawan, John Castle, Louise Jameson, Una Stubbs, David Ryall, Eleanor Bron, Nick Burns and Roy Barraclough.[21][22] It was followed on 25 December 2013 by a screening on BBC2 of a new documentary by Gatiss titled M. R. James: Ghost Writer. The programme saw Gatiss explore the work of James and look at how his work still inspires contemporary horror today.

He appeared in season four of Game of Thrones in 2014 playing Tycho Nestoris[23] and reprised this role in season five.[24]

In BBC's 2015 hit Wolf Hall, Gatiss played King Henry VIII's secretary Stephen Gardiner. He also appeared in Channel 4’s Coalition in 2015.[25]

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 revival 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 '70s Hammer Horrors.

Gatiss in 2006

In the 2008 English language 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 August-24 November 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.[26]

In March 2010 he was a guest on Private Passions, the biographical music discussion programme on BBC Radio 3.[27]

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.

In December 2011 he appeared in an episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage in an episode entitled The Science of Christmas, alongside Brian Cox, Robin Ince and Richard Dawkins.

In January 2012 he took the role of Brazen in The Recruiting Officer at the Donmar Theatre, London.[28] From 18 October – 24 November that year he was Charles I in the Hampstead Theatre production of 55 Days by Howard Brenton, a play dramatising the military coup that killed a King and forged a Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell.[29]

In December 2013, Gatiss joined the cast of the Donmar Warehouse Production of Coriolanus as Senator of Rome, Menenius. The play went from 6 December 2013 through 13 February 2014.[30] For his role on the play, Gatiss received a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role nomination.[31]


Doctor Who

Mark Gatiss in 2013

Gatiss had a childhood interest in BBC science-fiction show Doctor Who and devoted much of his early writing to the series, despite its 1989 cancellation. Gatiss's earliest published work was a sequence of novels in Virgin Publishing's New Adventures series of continuation stories and novels. In these works, he tried to correct the problems which had led to the show's decline in the late 1980s.[8]

The first television scripts Gatiss wrote were for a BBV direct-to-video series called "P.R.O.B.E.." Gatiss's four scripts each featured a different actor who had played Doctor Who's titular character of the Doctor: Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. The videos have since been released on DVD despite Gatiss once commenting that he would not authorise their re-release, as he regarded them as a learning exercise.[8]

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.[32][33]

Gatiss has written eight episodes for the 2005 revival of the show. His first, "The Unquiet Dead," was the third episode of the revived series in 2005; the second, "The Idiot's Lantern," aired the following year in the second series.[34] Although he acted in the third series and proposed an ultimately unproduced episode for the fourth, involving Nazis and the British Museum, it took until 2010 for Gatiss to return as writer. He wrote "Victory of the Daleks" for that year's fifth series and went on to contribute "Night Terrors" for series 6, "Cold War" and "The Crimson Horror" for series 7[35] and "Robot of Sherwood" for series 8. He also wrote "Sleep No More" for series 9.

He has also contributed to the franchise outside of the main show. His early work (see above) was primarily Doctor Who expanded media, and Gatiss wrote and performed in the comedy spoof sketches The Web of Caves, The Kidnappers and The Pitch of Fear for the BBC's "Doctor Who Night" in 1999 with David Walliams.

He penned 2013 docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time, a drama depicting the origins of the series, to celebrate the show's fiftieth anniversary.[36] It ended with a cameo by Gatiss's League of Gentleman castmate Reece Shearsmith, portraying Patrick Troughton, who played the Second Doctor. A "Making Of" feature about this programme, narrated by Gatiss, was made available on the BBC Red Button service, and also posted on the BBC's official YouTube channel.[37]

He has written for Doctor Who Magazine, including a column written under the pseudonoym "Sam Kisgart," which he was originally credited as in the Doctor Who Unbound audio play Sympathy for the Devil for his role as the Master. "Sam Kisgart" is an anagram of "Mark Gatiss," and is also the name he was credited as for his cameo in Psychoville.


With Steven Moffat, whom Gatiss worked with on Doctor Who and Jekyll, he also co-created and co-produced Sherlock, a modernised adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories, in which Gatiss plays the role of Sherlock's brother Mycroft. Although Gatiss influences all episodes in his capacity as producer, he has only written three episodes, one for each series: the finale, "The Great Game," for the first series, "The Hounds of Baskerville" for the second and "The Empty Hearse" for the third. He also co-wrote "Many Happy Returns," a mini-episode released in late December 2013 which acts as a prelude to the third series, with Steven Moffat, the episode "The Sign of Three" with Moffat and Steve Thompson, and "The Abominable Bride", a special episode released in early January 2016, with Moffat.

Other work as writer

Gatiss has written several non-fiction works, including a biography of the film director James Whale and the documentary M.R. James: Ghost Writer, which Gatiss also presented. The documentary followed Gatiss's directorial debut with an adaption of one of James's horror stories, "The Tractate Middoth" for BBC 2, which was broadcast on Christmas Day 2013. Gatiss also wrote, co-produced and appeared in Crooked House, a ghost story that was broadcast on BBC Four during Christmas 2008.

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.[38]

Personal life

Gatiss is gay and was featured on The Independent on Sunday's Pink List of influential gay people in the UK in 2010[39] and 2011.[40] He is married to actor Ian Hallard.[41] The couple have a Labrador Retriever called Bunsen.[2] Gatiss once built a Victorian laboratory in their West London home, as the fulfilment of another childhood dream.[7]



Year Title Role Notes
1998 – 1999 This Morning with Richard Not Judy Various voices Uncredited
1999–2000 The League of Gentlemen Various characters Series 1 & 2; also co-creator and co-writer
2001 Spaced Agent[42]
2001 Randall & Hopkirk Inspector Large[42]
2001 Birthday Girl Porter[42]
2002 The League of Gentlemen Various characters Series 3; also co-creator and co-writer
2003 Nighty Night Glenn Bulb[42]
2003 Bright Young Things Estate agent[42]
2004 Sex Lives of the Potato Men Jeremy[42]
2004 Catterick Peter[42]
2004 Agatha Christie's Marple Ronald Hawes Episode: "The Murder at the Vicarage"
2004 Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures
2005 Match Point Ping pong player[42]
2005 The Quatermass Experiment John Patterson[42]
2005 Nighty Night Glenn Bulb
2005 Funland Ambrose Chapfel[42]
2005 The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse Various characters / Himself
2005 Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit Miss. Blight (voice)
2006 Fear of Fanny Johnnie Cradock
2006 Starter for 10 Bamber Gascoigne[42]
2007 The Wind in the Willows Ratty
2007 Doctor Who Professor Lazarus Episode: "The Lazarus Experiment"
2007 Jekyll Robert Louis Stevenson
2008 Clone Colonel Black
2008 Free Jimmy Jakki
2008 Psychoville Jason Griffin
2008 Crooked House Curator Also creator and writer
2008 Sense and Sensibility John Dashwood
2009 Agatha Christie's Poirot Leonard Boynton Episode: "Appointment with Death"
2010 Midsomer Murders Rev Giles Shawcross Episode: "The Sword of Guillaume"
2010 Worried About the Boy Malcolm MacLaren
2010 The First Men in the Moon Professor Cavor Also writer
2010 A History of Horror Himself Documentary; also writer
2010–present Sherlock Mycroft Holmes Also co-creator; writer of 6 episodes
2011 Doctor Who Gantok Episode: "The Wedding of River Song"
2011 The Infinite Monkey Cage Himself Episode: "The Science of Christmas"
2011 The Crimson Petal and the White Henry Rackham Junior
2012 Being Human Mr. Snow[42]
2012 Inspector George Gently Stephen Groves[43] Episode: "The Lost Child"
2012 Horrible Histories As part of "The League of Gentlemen"
2012 Horror Europa Himself Documentary; also writer
2014–2015 Game of Thrones[44] Tycho Nestoris[45]
2014 Mapp and Lucia Major Benjy
2015 Wolf Hall Stephen Gardiner
2015 Coalition Peter Mandelson
2015 Victor Frankenstein Dettweiler
2015 London Spy Rich[42] Episode 3
2016 Dad's Army Colonel Theakes
2016 Our Kind of Traitor Billy Matlock
2016 Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Publisher
2016 Denial Robert Jan van Pelt


Production Notes Broadcaster
P.R.O.B.E. The Zero Imperative (1994)
The Devil of Winterbourne (1995)
Unnatural Selection (1996)
Ghosts of Winterbourne (1996)
(released direct to video)
Randall & Hopkirk "Two Can Play at That Game" (2001)
"Painkillers" (2001)
The League of Gentlemen Also co-creator
19 episodes (1999–2002)
(with Jeremy Dyson, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith)
The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse Feature film (2005)
(with Jeremy Dyson, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith)
Doctor Who "The Unquiet Dead" (2005)
"The Idiot's Lantern" (2006)
"Victory of the Daleks" (2010)
"Night Terrors" (2011)
"Cold War" (2013)
"The Crimson Horror" (2013)
"Robot of Sherwood" (2014)
"Sleep No More" (2015)
The Worst Journey in the World TV film (2007) BBC Four
Crooked House Also creator
3 episodes (2008)
BBC Four
Agatha Christie's Poirot "Cat Among the Pigeons" (2008)
"Hallowe'en Party" (2010)
"The Big Four" (2013)
Sherlock Also co-creator (with Steven Moffat)
"The Great Game" (2010)
"The Hounds of Baskerville" (2012)
"Many Happy Returns" (2013)
"The Empty Hearse" (2014)
"The Sign of Three (2014) (with Steven Moffat and Steve Thompson)
"The Abominable Bride" (2016) (with Steven Moffat)
The First Men in the Moon TV film (2010) BBC Four
An Adventure in Space and Time TV film (2013) BBC Two
A Ghost Story for Christmas "The Tractate Middoth" (2013) BBC Two



Doctor Who novels

Doctor Who anthology contributions

The League of Gentlemen

Lucifer Box novels

Miscellaneous non-fiction

Miscellaneous fiction

Audio plays

Doctor Who (and related)


  1. "Mark Gatiss featured article on TheGenealogist". TheGenealogist. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  2. 1 2 Randall, Lee (17 November 2008). "The Monday Interview: Mark Gatiss – Top of the League – The Scotsman". Retrieved 28 October 2010. 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.
  3. "Mark Gatiss". Desert Island Discs. 23 October 2011. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  4. Presented by Brian Cox and Robin Ince (26 December 2011). "Science of Christmas". The Infinite Monkey Cage. Series 5. Episode 6. Event occurs at 2:28. BBC. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 28 December 2011. There is still a 49% chance that his name will be mispronounced. So please welcome Mark Gatiss not Gatiss.
  5. 1 2 Jeffries, Stuart (11 October 2010). "Mark Gatiss: Rocket man". The Guardian. London.
  6. 1 2 Mark Lawson Talks to Mark Gatiss
  7. 1 2 3 4 Michael Deacon (15 October 2010). "Mark Gatiss: the journey of a geek made good". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  8. 1 2 3 Stephen Phelan (7 November 2004). "Renaissance gentleman". The Sunday Herald. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  9. Angelique Chrisafis (3 November 2004). "A league of his own". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  10. "Film Info. Interview with Steve Pemberton and Mark Gatiss". The League of 7 November 2004. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  11. "Remembering Heighington's past with pride; The headteacher". The Northern Echo. 26 March 2007. Archived from the original on 18 October 2012. One Heighington alumnus is actor Mark Gatiss, the star of hit comedies The League of Gentlemen and Little Britain.
  12. 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.
  13. Mark Gatiss Interview at The Metro. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  14. David Leavey (25 March 2011). The Essential Cult TV Reader. The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813125685.
  15. "Doctor Who baddie role for Barlow". BBC News Online. 28 September 2006. Retrieved 28 September 2006.
  16. "I Always Wanted to be a Rat". The Northern Echo. 20 December 2006. Retrieved 6 January 2007.
  17. "Mark Gatiss joines James Nesbitt in BBC One's Jekyll". 16 November 2006. Retrieved 16 November 2006.
  18. Moonstruck Mark Gatiss Sends H.G. Wells Into Orbit Herald Scotland – October 2010
  19. "A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss – Q&A with Mark Gatiss". BBC. Retrieved 12 November 2010.
  20. Mark Gatiss (1 January 1970). "Media Centre – Mark Gatiss returns to BBC Four to tell story of European horror cinema". BBC. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  21. Jones, Paul (3 December 2013). "The Tractate Middoth and An Adventure in Space and Time to air on Christmas Day on BBC2". Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  22. Daly, Emma (5 September 2013). "Mark Gatiss casts Sherlock's Una Stubbs in festive ghost story". Radio Times. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  23. Andrei Harmsworth (24 February 2014). "Mark Gatiss: Games Of Thrones is filled with the fittest men on TV | Metro News". Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  24. "Mark Gatiss returning for Game of Thrones season 5". Watchers On The Wall. 27 August 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  25. Carole Cadwalladr, Mark Gatiss: ‘Doctor Who is my first love, my last, my everything’, The Guardian, 1 May 2015.
  26. "It's on with the show (From Watford Observer)". 10 December 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2010.
  27. "Private Passions". BBC Radio 3.
  28. Shenton, Mark (15 February 2012). "The Recruiting Officer". The Stage. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  29. Wooley, Sarah. "55 Days". Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  30. "Coriolanus 6 December 2013 – 13 February 2014". Donmar Warehouse. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  31. "Olivier awards 2014 full list". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 April 2014.
  32. "''Doctor Who – Invaders From Mars''". Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  33. "''Doctor Who – Phantasmagoria''". Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  34. "Mark Gatiss Presents Doctor Who Documentary". BBC. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  35. "'Doctor Who': Series 7 news summary". 24 April 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  36. Mulkern, Patrick (20 November 2013). "Doctor Who: An Adventure in Space and Time – Mark Gatiss takes us behind the scenes". Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  37. "Behind the scenes of An Adventure in Space and Time – Doctor Who 50th Anniversary – BBC". YouTube. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  38. "Mark Gatiss – Official Publisher Page". Simon & Schuster. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  39. "The IoS Pink List 2010". London: 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 also be seen in his adaptation of HG Wells' First Men in the Moon. An appearance in an Alan Ackybourn revival at the National Theatre is also mooted.
  40. Herbert, Ian (23 October 2011). "The IoS Pink List 2011". The Independent. London.
  41. Greenstreet, Rosanna (6 February 2016). "Q&A: Mark Gatiss – 'Best kiss? My husband, or Ben Whishaw in London Spy'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  42. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 "Mark Gatiss credits". London: Curtis Brown. Retrieved 15 February 2012.
  43. ""Inspector George Gently" The Lost Child". IMDb. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  44. Coming, Winter Is (17 July 2013). "Sherlock actor Mark Gatiss cast in season 4". Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  45. "Mark Gatiss's role revealed". 8 September 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2014.

External links

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