Ahead of the first footage of the highly anticipated Doctor Who Christmas special, which will arrive later today, we’ve now learned that Mark Gatiss will be appearing in the yuletide episode.
Alongside outgoing showrunner Steven Moffat and Doctor Peter Capaldi, Gatiss was talking to Empire’s Chris Hewitt in a Facebook live interview when he announced the news. Though it wasn’t revealed who he’ll be playing, he described the experience as “a privilege, an honour and a thrill.” Capaldi said that the Sherlock co-creator and actor gives a wonderful performance in the episode and teased that Gatiss’ character is “a resonant echo in the whole Doctor Who story.”
This is far from Gatiss’ first appearance in the sci-fi institution. A lifelong fan, he first achieved his dream of acting on the show when he guest starred in the 2007 episode “The Lazarus Experiment” as the mad scientist Professor Lazarus, a man who manages to de-age himself. He later turned up again, this time totally unrecognizable under heavy prosthetics, as an alien Viking-themed criminal named Gantok in 2011’s “The Wedding of River Song.”
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For the most part, though, Gatiss is known for his writing work on Doctor Who. He’s penned eight episodes since the series was revived in 2005, with at least one each for the past four Doctors. His most recent – this year’s “Empress of Mars” – might have been his last contribution, however, as he’s admitted that incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall could bring in a whole new writing team.
Circling back to his involvement in the Christmas special, though, and Capaldi’s comments about Gatiss’ character being “resonant” are intriguing, as they suggest his part won’t be some small cameo but rather a role that’s important to the story and perhaps the wider mythology, as well.
How he’ll end up factoring into things remains to be seen, but we’ll find out for ourselves when Doctor Who returns on Christmas day, at which point Capaldi will regenerate into the new Doctor, Jodie Whittaker.