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Mark Gatiss

Mark Gatiss

British actor, screenwriter and novelist
The basics
Occupation Actor Comedian Screenwriter Novelist Voice actor Writer Science fiction writer
Country United Kingdom
Date of birth Sedgefield, County Durham, County Durham, North East England
Spouse: Ian Hallard
Awards British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Laurence Olivier Award, British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series, British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series
Education University of Leeds, Heighington CE Primary School
Authority ISNI id Library of congress id IMDB id NNDB id Openlibrary id VIAF id
The details

Mark Gatiss ( GAY-tiss; born 17 October 1966) is an English actor, comedian, screenwriter and novelist. His work includes writing for and acting in the TV series Doctor Who and Sherlock. Together with Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and Jeremy Dyson, he is a member of the comedy team The League of Gentlemen. He is also known for his role as Tycho Nestoris in the HBO series Game of Thrones.

Early life and education

Gatiss was born in Sedgefield, County Durham, England, to Winifred Rose (née O'Kane, 1931–2003) and Maurice Gatiss (b. 1931). He grew up opposite the Edwardian psychiatric hospital where his father worked. His family background is working class. 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.

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. He then studied Theatre Arts at Bretton Hall College which was an arts college affiliated to Leeds University.

Gatiss was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters by the University of Huddersfield in 2003.



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. 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.

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 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" 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 in Jekyll, a BBC One serial by his fellow Doctor Who scriptwriter Steven Moffat. 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. He also made a three-part BBC documentary series entitled A History of Horror, a personal exploration of the history of horror cinema. This was followed on 30 October 2012 with a look at European horror with the documentary Horror Europa.

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. 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 and reprised this role in season five and season seven.

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

Gatiss appears as the Prince Regent (later George IV) in the eight-part historical fiction television drama series Taboo (2017) first broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom on 7 January 2017 and in the United States on FX on 10 January 2017.

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.

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

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. 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.

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. For his role on the play, Gatiss received a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role nomination.

In May 2017, Gatiss began a recurring role on "The Secret History Of Hollywood", a series of podcast biopics on Golden Age-era Hollywood. Its 11-part series, 'Shadows' tells the story of Val Lewton's life and career, with Gatiss providing the introductions for each episode.


Doctor Who

Gatiss at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con, promoting Doctor Who

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.

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.

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.

Gatiss has written nine 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. 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 and "Robot of Sherwood" for series 8. He also wrote "Sleep No More" for series 9 and "Empress of Mars" for series 10.

He has also contributed to the franchise outside 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. 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.

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. Gatiss has influence on all episodes as producer and he has written four episodes, one for each series: the finale, "The Great Game," for the first series, "The Hounds of Baskerville" for the second, "The Empty Hearse" for the third and "The Six Thatchers" for the fourth. 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.

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 and 2011. He married actor Ian Hallard in 2008 in Middle Temple, in the City of London. Gatiss once built a Victorian laboratory in their north London home, as the fulfilment of another childhood dream.

He also owns a white labrador named Bunsen, age 12



Year Title Role Notes
1998–1999 This Morning with Richard Not Judy Various voices Uncredited
1999–2002 The League of Gentlemen Various characters also co-creator and co-writer
2001 Spaced Agent
2001 Randall & Hopkirk Inspector Large
2001 Birthday Girl Porter
2003 Nighty Night Glenn Bulb
2003 Bright Young Things Estate agent
2004 Sex Lives of the Potato Men Jeremy
2004 Catterick Peter
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
2005 The Quatermass Experiment John Patterson
2005 Nighty Night Glenn Bulb
2005 Funland Ambrose Chapfel
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
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
2010–2017 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
2012 Inspector George Gently Stephen Groves Episode: "The Lost Child"
2012 Horrible Histories As part of "The League of Gentlemen"
2012 Horror Europa Himself Documentary; also writer
2014–present Game of Thrones Tycho Nestoris 4 episodes
2014 Mapp and Lucia Major Benjy
2015 Wolf Hall Stephen Gardiner
2015 Coalition Peter Mandelson
2015 Victor Frankenstein Dettweiler
2015 London Spy Rich 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
2017 Taboo Prince Regent (later George IV)
2017 Thunderbirds Are Go Professor Quentin Questa
2017 Doctor Who The Captain Episode: "Twice Upon a Time"
TBA Gunpowder Robert Cecil Filming
TBA Christopher Robin Giles Filming


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 9 episodes;
  • "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)
  • "Empress of Mars" (2017)
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 7 episodes, 1 miniepisode, 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 Six Thatchers" (2017)
  • "The Final Problem" (2017) (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
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