Actor Mark Gatiss has been discussing his role in this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, Twice Upon a Time.
Gatiss’ character – known only as The Captain – is a soldier from the First World War who gets caught up in the events of the special, meeting not just one but two Doctors along the way.
On having the opportunity to take part in this year’s festive special, Gatiss said:
“It’s my privilege and pleasure to be involved. It was honestly one of the happiest jobs I’ve ever had. It’s been utterly delightful with Peter [Capaldi], Pearl [Mackie] and David [Bradley].
“Though dealing with epic themes it’s actually quite a contained, intimate story on one level – in some ways a chamber piece. We’ve had a really good laugh. It’s been delightful.”
On how he was cast in the role, he explained:
“It happened very touchingly a couple of months ago. We were at a script meeting for the series ten episode I’d written, Empress of Mars, when Steven took me aside and said “I know you get booked up quickly so will you keep June and July free?”
“I said yes straight away, and then asked why! He said “I’m writing a part you’d be perfect for in Peter’s last story, and I want you to be there when I go”. Which is a Doctorish line in itself and made me well up.”
Twice Upon a Time sees Gatiss portray his fourth Doctor Who guest character, after Professor Richard Lazarus (The Lazarus Experiment), WWII pilot ‘Danny Boy’ (Victory of the Daleks) and Gantok (The Wedding of River Song).
However, his latest outing is the first chance Gatiss has had to play someone on an adventure with the Doctor himself:
“It was heaven – I got to do it all! At one point I even come through the TARDIS doors and say in amazement “it’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside!”. All these things I’ve always wanted to do!
“I did have to ask myself how I would cope with experiencing that, and actually I made sure that my character didn’t get used to it too quickly. I wanted to make sure you get a sense – which is in the script – of The Captain being overwhelmed by it all and really shocked, rather than just taking it in his stride.
“But at the same time he is a soldier, so he reacts to certain other situations in quite a straight forward way.”
Gatiss also spoke about his feelings on being part of Peter Capaldi’s final episode, describing it as ‘the end of an era’:
“I know that Peter really just wanted to enjoy his last adventure. I’m sure that as he got to the last few days the sense of finality will have sunk in – you know, “that’s the last time on location, that’s the last time I’ll run down a corridor, that’s the last time I fight a monster…” etcetera, but it was a really joyous shoot to be a part of.
“With my old Doctor Who fan head on – Worzel Gummage style – to be a part of any Doctor’s final adventure was incredible, but particularly for Peter who I think has been magnificent. It’s the end of so many eras and you couldn’t help but feel that. It was a real pleasure.”
Twice Upon a Time airs on Christmas Day at 5:30pm on BBC One.