Thanks to Mark Gatiss, we might never sleep again. Not only did he create the sickening Sandmen –monsters made from the gunk in the corner of your eye– the writer gave us something truly horrifying: an unhappy ending.
To recap, the Doctor leaves the space station orbiting Neptune having not deduced the villainous Rassmussen’s (Reece Shearsmith) true plan. The insomnia-maniac is free to transmit his infected video throughout the solar system, potentially ending the human race.
Not that Gatiss seems bothered. He’s smiling.
“It does have an unhappy ending, yes,” Gatiss told RadioTimes.com during the Doctor Who Festival in London. “Earthshock might be the last time that happened. The Doctor loses.”
For an audience used to the Doctor always saving the day, it’s a shock when the credits roll. Why end on such a sour note?
“In my head the episode has a paranoid 70s bleakness to it, and all those films ended on an unhappy ending,” he explained. “I thought it was fascinating to do that, and obeying the rules of found footage, it needed a final twist. As with the whole format of the episode, it’s to ring the changes.”
Surely that’s a tough pitch to make behind the scenes?
“I didn’t encounter any resistance to that, and I thought I might.”
But is there any hope for mankind? Can the snivelling sleep scientist really be the one villain to truly best the Doctor?
“It doesn’t mean they’re going to win eventually. The Doctor knows something’s wrong, so he’s not fooled…and I do have a sequel planned.”
A sequel! Will it involve the Doctor trying to track down the infectious video? The Ring in Space?
“The Ring in Space is a good name! Like the Ark in Space. I’ve got a good idea. Pleasing my inner fan, the idea of doing a pairing, like the Yeti stories, is rather lovely. It pleases my Doctor Who self.”
There you go, there is hope after all. Gatiss is writing an episode for series 10 next year, but doesn’t know if it will be his planned villainous team-up. Until then, try not to lose sleep over it.
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