Four years on from the broadcast of his final Doctor Who script (so far), Mark Gatiss is returning to the Whoniverse by way of revisiting an old classic.
As part of a revival of the Target book range – which originally published novelisations of Doctor Who television stories between 1973 and 1994 – Gatiss has adapted his 2013 episode The Crimson Horror for the printed page.
“It’s wonderful,” he told RadioTimes.com. “I mean, obviously, I did four of them [Doctor Who novels] years ago, but they weren’t Targets, were they?. They were New Adventures [original novels put out by Virgin Publishing between 1991 and 1997], and then BBC Books… but this is is a Target book – it looks like one! It’s amazing.
“I mean, even to have those things, like ‘The Changing Face of Doctor Who’ [a blurb printed on the first page of Target novels, identifying which Doctor was featured in the book], and I think I smuggled in a little asterisk – ‘see Doctor Who: The Snowmen’ or something like that. It makes me very happy indeed to have those in.
“I remember when the show came back, thinking ‘Wouldn’t it be nice…?’ but it felt a world away. But nowadays, it feels eminently feasible that you could continue your long postponed collection after all these years. I’m going to dig mine out of the loft so I can start putting them together again!”
Along with the likes of Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat and Chris Chibnall, Gatiss also contributed to a Doctor Who short story collection last year – Adventures in Lockdown, produced to raise money for Children in Need – and says he still has ideas for new TV stories.
“Yeah, I do. I mean, not millions of them, but there are certain things that occur and you think ‘There’s sort of only one place you could do that’ – and it’s not because it’s some kind of grand sci-fi idea, it’s just something very particular where you go, ‘Ah, that’s a Doctor Who idea’.
“I’m just sort of intrigued as to where the show’s going to go next because of lockdown, in terms of whether we’re going to get lots of base under siege stories! One person in peril! I think what you don’t want to see is things too directly about it, but if you could look at [a story] and say, ‘I know what that’s about, it’s about isolation and people’s mental health, but on a moon colony’ or something, that’d work.”
As for whether he will contribute to the TV series again, Gatiss – who wrote nine episodes between 2005 and 2017, and appeared as an actor in five more – insisted that the door has been left open by current showrunner Chibnall. “Very early on, Chris emailed me – all the new writers were announced and everything and I sort of assumed that that was my time [over]. But he sent me a lovely email saying ‘you’re very much part of the family, I’d love you to [write a new episode]’, but I just haven’t.
“But I loved writing that story for the Children in Need book. I really enjoyed going back and trying to find Jodie’s voice. It was a real refreshing change. I didn’t actually rewatch anything. I just sort of thought, ‘I know how she sounds’, and I really enjoyed it very much. So maybe we could do that [story], because Susan [the Doctor’s granddaughter] comes back!”
Doctor Who: The Crimson Horror is available to buy now as part of the Target Collection, along with Dalek by Robert Shearman and The Witchfinders by Joy Wilkinson.
The full Big RT Interview with Mark Gatiss will be available to read on Sunday 14th March on RadioTimes.com.