Mark Gatiss Promises Very “Moving” Doctor Who Christmas Special


“Twice Upon a Time” really will signal the end of an era – and we’re not just talking about Peter Capaldi’s reign as the inimitable Time Lord.

Because on December 25th, the Doctor Who fanbase will also bid farewell to Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) and Steven Moffat, long-time writer and showrunner, respectively. Their time on the beloved sci-fi adventure stretches as far back as the 1990s, when the Powers That Be launched an ill-advised movie spinoff. And, well, the less said about that, the better.

Getting back to this year’s Christmas Special, though, “Twice Upon a Time” heralds Moffat’s last hurrah, while Mark Gatiss plays a man out of time known only as ‘The Captain.’ It’s also a remarkably moving episode, according to Gatiss, who previewed the imminent festive special during a lengthy interview with Entertainment Weekly:

“As we discovered at the climax of the last season, the Doctor is about to regenerate, but doesn’t want to. Not because he doesn’t want to change his face but [he thinks] maybe this is time to finish it. And then unexpectedly, out of the snow, arrives his very first incarnation, now played by the great David Bradley. I play a captain from the First World War who is kind of plucked out of time and then gets involved with the Doctor’s adventures.

So, it’s essentially a kind of chamber piece of David, and Peter, and Pearl, and me, and this strange mysterious threat. But really it’s about the wonderful interplay between the two Doctors. Both Doctors are about to regenerate, one of them for the first time, one for the 13th, or whatever it is now. [Laughs] It’s a very charming, funny, and rather moving script, and it was just a privilege to be part of it. I mean, for me, as a lifelong fan, to be in a regeneration story, and to be in Peter’s one, and to be also with the First Doctor, it was amazing. I just had to pinch myself at times. I looked across the set to see two TARDISes next to each other and got a real frisson of old-school Doctor Who-ness.”

Gatiss then reiterated that he currently has no plans to be involved in Doctor Who season 11 – neither behind the lens, nor in front – as the Jodie Whittaker-fronted storyline will be placed in the capable hands of Chris Chibnall.

Indeed, Whittaker’s debut season is already filming across parts of the UK, and will in all likelihood premiere sometime in 2018.

Mark Gatiss continued:

Chris Chibnall very sweetly emailed me and said he’d love me to continue because I’m a big part of the Doctor Who family, which I was very touched by. But they’re shooting Jodie’s first season now. It’s all new people and he has a totally different way of working. So, at the moment, I don’t know. Never say never. But I’ve had such a brilliant time and I feel very blessed to have worked on it for 10 years. It might just be time for someone else to have a go. I must admit, the idea of not writing for it again is very strange.”

Finally, he said:

“But I’m just very excited about not knowing anything and it’s been a very long time since I’ve been able to say that, literally, when it starts, I won’t know a thing about the new approach, the music, the title sequence, the inside of the TARDIS, the stories, the writers. I don’t know anything! And that’s just like being eight years old and sitting in front of the TV again, and not knowing anything, which in this day and age is a very unusual situation to be [in]. So, I’d just like to enjoy it and have a proper break, and maybe, if Chris wants me, I might do something.”

“Twice Upon a Time,” arguably the most-anticipated Doctor Who special in a generation, will light up the small screen in time for Christmas Day. It’ll air via BBC America at 9 pm ET, so keep your peepers peeled.