Doctor Who: Mark Gatiss talks Time Lords and Gallifrey

News Louisa Mellor 24 Mar 2014 - 09:25

Doctor Who and Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss has been chatting about Gallifrey...

Contains spoilers for The Day Of The Doctor.

After The Day Of The Doctor, the prospect of the Doctor's search for Gallifrey bobbed into view as a mission for the new series. Were he ever to return to his home planet, though, how would it affect Doctor Who?

On his BBC Worldwide tour of Brazil, Doctor Who and Sherlock's Mark Gatiss was asked what he thought about the idea of the Doctor returning to Gallifrey, and urged caution in his response: "Every time you go back to Gallifrey, it starts to make the Time Lords a bit too domesticated. I know that’s why Russell T Davies came up with the whole idea of the Doctor being the last one because eventually if you see them so often they become a bit like a bunch of MPs, whereas if you talk about them as this amazing, powerful force, they’re much more exciting."

Would Gatiss relish the prospect of writing an episode involving Gallifrey? “I don’t know if I would want to do one. I think the way the Time Lords were represented in The End of Time and The Day of the Doctor was very exciting because we’re seeing them in a crisis and they’re trying to come up with different ways of saving themselves. But I suppose if the Doctor ever does find Gallifrey again, then we might find out more. Who knows…”

What do we all think? Would a return to Gallifrey be a boon for Doctor Who?

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But the fact that the Time Lords are a bunch of boring MPs is what makes them so interesting and such a contrast to the Doctor.

I think it'd take away a bit from the end of Day of the Doctor if he didn't end up back at Gallifrey at some point, as that prospect was what really heightened the end of the special for me - it felt like it'd be the start of a new chapter.

Of course, it'd need to be done right and if Mark Gatiss isn't feeling it, then fair enough - I'm sure there are loads of other writers who have brilliant ideas about how to give Gallifrey a fresh feel.

Surely they wouldn't ALL be like a bunch of boring MPs. As well as the Council of Gallifrey (or whatever it's called, I just made that up), there must be regular citizens of Gallifrey, mothers, fathers, children, all with these vast powers over time and space. Meeting some of THEM would be pretty interesting...

I predict that when they do come back, the Time Lords will be very pissed off that the Universe has carried on without them acting as its arbitrators. After all, a race that proclaims its members to be the Lords of Time must have a collective ego problem. I think that when they do come back, we may see the Time Lords staying true to their Time War, Genesis of the Daleks incarnations; interfering to a disastrous extent in universal affairs; rather than acting as the wise observers that The Doctor tries to see them as. Maybe they themselves will become the next big threat the Doctor has to encounter?

I reckon there's huge story potential in the Doctor visiting the wastelands outside the Capitol, maybe even meeting Leela again, but definitely seeing Gallifrey from a more grass-roots level.
That way the Time Lords themselves remain aloof and obscure.

That said, they should probably milk the Doctor's search for the place for all its worth first.

Gallifery will have changed for sure as a result of the time-war. I don't think they'll be the stuffy, peace-loving, boring folk we saw in the past. They'll be scared by the war and angry - like the 9th Doctor was. I'd imagine they'll be more of a military force, maybe even fascist society than we've seen before; aggressive, paranoid and seeing threats everywhere (bit like the Dalkes really); ruthless and cold. They could identify 'future' enemies of Gallifrey (think Minority Report) and go to war with them based on that pretext. There are so many interesting and exciting ways to explore a post time-war gallifrey. Mark Gatiss' comments are rather unispired and show a frightening lack of imagination for someone who actually writes for the show. Lets just hope the doesn't become a showrunner in the future.

Exactly. A post Time-War Gallifrey would not be the same. They would be a dangerous (think Germany post WW1) and on the verge of adopting a more ruthlesss and paranoid agenda to ensure their survial. Maybe the Master would be the perfrect president to lead Gallifrey - which would mean The Doctor would now be at war with his own people! Mark Gatiss has really shown that he is really short of ideas if his comments are to be taken at face value.

If the universe has carried on without them (Dave Hill) then I imagine that they would take a back foot and be distant observers, rather like the ancients in SG1. It would be interesting as well to see the doctor having to persuade them to get back into things.

You guys aren't reading spoilers for the Series 8 finale, are you? :)

C'mon! You didn't warn me there would be a spoiler for "The End of Time"! Dammit.

I feel strongly that doing away with the Timelords (and subsequently, awkwardly, bringing them back) was a mistake. The modern series could have had dark subplots where various Timelords (or the culture as a whole) was a villain for the Doctor to face much as other alien races have been. It would open up a whole new area of potential storytelling with political intrigue, deviance within his own people, being forced to serve much like Tom was in Genesis, etc. It's a gold mine that was cast aside. Some of the Big Finish audios leveraged Gallifrey very well in similar ways.

Plus, lets not forget that the Time Lords have never been portrayed as a particularly nice race. I don't remember a single occasion where I have thought of the Time Lords as an: 'Amazing, Powerful race.' If they were so: why would the Doctor decide to leave in the first place? Lets not forget that these are the people that installed a Death Zone on their own planet, presumably altered their own DNA so that they could potentially live forever, cast out Gallifreyans that were not Time Lords from their society to live in squalor, attempted to commit genocide against the Daleks and tried to ascend beyond the Universe by bringing about The End Of Time, whatever that means. These are beings that, through their own technological achievements, believe themselves to be above the rest of the universe. If it weren't for the fact that they are The Doctor's people, they would be one of his greatest enemies. I would really love to see the Doctor forced into mobilising himself against fully militarised Time Lords trying to reclaim their place in the Universe. Hesck, they may even re-start the Time War, seeing as Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans and whatnot seem to be running about the place willy-nilly at the moment.

To be fair to Gatiss, who seems to be getting a lot of stick in this thread now, his remarks are taken without context here.
He's not saying that the Timelords couldn't be written or that there isn't a story there. Just that there's a danger in overdoing it.

I think it's a brilliant bit of tease by Mark Gattis, personally. Very well played

No, and I think it's best that you left that particular conclusion to yourself. Please delete your comment.

"Mark Gatiss has really shown that he is really short of ideas if his comments are to be taken at face value."

I don't see a problem personally. All it looks like to me is that he's saying writing Time Lord stories like the 70s and 80s ones isn't the way to go, and if anything he'd make the Time Lords as ruthless and desperate as we saw them in "The End of Time". I certainly wouldn't infer from "amazing, powerful force" that he's short of ideas.

As much as I want them back now, id like to see the slow build to the return of the planet stretch Capaldi's entire tenure, with subtle storylines woven throughout, then return the Timelords at the end. Once they return though id love to see the Doctor go back on the run from them, whether its as a fugitive or running from his potential duties.

Even if the Series 8 finale has reached the stage of production where leaks are possible, Joe's comment is speculation at most, which can't possibly constitute a spoiler.

I would like to see the time lords and gallifery return to Doctor Who. I am catching up with the classic series as I never watched it before it was brought back. Talking about the new series of Doctor Who, from my point of view, I feel really sorry for the doctor being the last of the timelords and would love to see him reunited with his people. But of what I know of the classic series of Who, I wouldn't want him to stay on Gallifey permenantly. The doctor is all about adventure and helping other worlds and I wouldn't want that to change, but I would like to see the Doctor without his guilt as I think it would make the series even better then it is already. Please bring the timelords and Gallifrey back!

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