UPDATED Doctor Who series 8: Mark Gatiss writing 2 episodes

News Louisa Mellor 27 Mar 2014 - 13:15

Mark Gatiss has confirmed that he's once again writing 2 episodes in the forthcoming series of Doctor Who...

UPDATE: Mark Gatiss has clarified on Twitter that while he has indeed been commissioned to write two new episodes of Doctor Who, they won't necessarily both be in series eight.

Last series Mark Gatiss brought Doctor Who Ice Warriors and Diana Rigg; this year, what does he have in store? It's too early for us to know, but it has been confirmed that Gatiss is writing two episodes for Peter Capaldi's Doctor in series eight.

Gatiss announced the news on the press circuit in Brazil as part of a BBC Worldwide showcase. His most recent Who episodes were the tense claustrophobic Cold War and macabre Victorian-era The Crimson Horror. Previous Gatiss-written episodes have been Night TerrorsVictory Of The DaleksThe Idiot's Lantern and The Unquiet Dead

These two series eight stories will mean the Sherlock co-creator has written adventures for all four Doctors since the show's 2005 return, in addition to his Who novels and anthology contributions.

All the firm info we have on Doctor Who series eight can be found continually updated, here

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Like Gatiss, but some of his Who output has been mixed to say the least. He's been responsible for Idiots lantern, Victory Of The Daleks, Night Terrors, Cold War...none of which you could call classic (Victory getting most of my ire). But by the same pen we also get the quite brilliant: The Unquiet Dead & Crimson Horror - so if it's bonkers gothic (in the style of Carry On Screaming) you're after, clearly he's the go-to writer. But his non-Who stuff has been excellent, so please don't peg me as a hater...I guess I'm just more critical of Who stuff than anything else and so my standards are unrealistically high.

Just because he's besties with Moffat we have to endure his god-awful scripts, series after series. Who wants another Victory of the Daleks? Not me.

He's not written even a half-decent episode, they have all been poor

His 'Who' output is ok, but is that enough...? I liked his first story a lot (TUD), and the last two had their moments. Maybe he's due a classic.

Get the feeling hes being lined up as the showrunner when the Moff quits.

A lot of his stories seem to be very 20th century centric

This is just one reason why this next season I expect isn't going to be that great. However good Capaldi turns out to be, he'll be hamstrung by, imo, the same poor line up of writers (at least as regards their DW writing) as have been around under Moffat so far. If only they'd get some new blood in to really make proper drama, including a new "showrunner".

Victory of the Daleks I half watched again the other day. I couldn't finish it. Power of the Daleks it wasn't.

He's a known history buff

I think it's normal to have standards. I'm not sure there's been a single episode of NuWho so far that I'd call classic television.

The writing circle for Dr Who is getting more and more closed. The last woman to write for the show was Helen Raynor with her Sontaran episodes in David Tennant's era and I'm pretty sure they've never had a none-white writer on the show. Now Moffat just keeps giving the scripts to his same group of buddies - Gatiss, Neil Gaiman, Neil Cross, Tom McRae, etc, etc.... For a show about diversity, uniqueness and exploration, the writing staff doesn't seem too keen on hiring fresh talent do they...?

I've enjoyed all of Gatiss' contributions to Who so far, except The Idiot's Lantern, though that's probably more down to how insufferable to me the Ten/Rose dynamic was getting at that point, and that's not really Gatiss' fault. So I welcome this news.

Can we not have Mark Gatiss write an episode of Inside No. 9, in exchange for Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton on Doctor Who?

Gatiss is great at that twisted stuff, much missed in that capacity, and I really would like to hear some new voices on Doctor Who.

I've liked most of Gatiss' stories, but especially "The Unquiet Dead", because of how much he shows respect for people of the past and their world views. It's a regrettably common choice in lots of fiction to just ridicule everybody who don't think like modern people, to make it obvious that the anachronistically modern people are the ones we are supposed to sympathize with. I feel that Gatiss has done a good job at presenting the past in his stories, plus that he wrote the only episode where I liked the Paternoster Gang. But to me one problem with many of his Moffat-era stories is the same that made many other stories not really live up to their potential: The increasingly fast pace and the ambitious scripts that had to be cut in order to fit within a standard 45-minute episode. That's why I feel that Gatiss' and many other writers' stories need proper room to breathe, preferably as two-parters.

I am rather hoping these two episodes are a two-parter. He's never had a go with one, it'd be good to see what he makes of the slower burn. I think it'd suit him better, frankly.

Oddly enough I feel the same way, but about different episodes.
I would have listed Idiots Lantern and Night Terrors as his peaks, while I'm pretty meh about the others. Except for Victory, which I just can't get behind.
(Never mind the new daleks, which of course Gatiss didn't actually design himself - what about the staggering suspension of disbelief required for them getting those prototype Spitfires into space so fast?)
I'm not a hater either, but I am hoping for more horror than history from these upcoming stories. I think that's where his best writing is.

Not even "Blink"? Or "The Empty Child"?

I don't think the problem lies solely with Gatiss' Moffat era scripts. I think that the standalone standard the show has is really hurting most of the stories. Even a lot of the bad stories that have been shown in Moffat's run would have been decent, at least, if given a little more room to play.

Personally, I would like to see a return to classic Doctor Who style episodes, where each story "episode" was told over a number of actual episodes. Not that every tale needs a four week arc, but even a two parter for a lot of them. Sure drop in the odd standalone here and there (preferably the stories Moffat insists on writing so we don't have to put up with them for long), but bring the series back to its arcing roots.

The habit of crushing and cutting every story into a single episode with a five second arc point at the end is really driving the quality of the show down the longer it goes on and the more epic they try to make the overacing plot.

So much agreed. After recently rewatching Series 1-4 it struck me how the stories back then managed to fit in a lot of content in each 45-minute episode, while still managing to present everything in a slow enough pace for there to be room for quiet little moments that helped flesh out the characters. But through Series 6 and 7 the stories became a lot more fast-paced to accommodate Matt Smith's motor-mouth, while the blockbuster-format of Series 7 really hurt most of the stories by "tarting them up" and making them too ambitious to fit within 45 minutes. I'd be willing to have a larger amount of shorter episodes per season, like twenty 30-minute episodes (plus Christmas special) so that we can divide the more ambitious stories into two-parters and multi-parters.

They would have been so much better off had they let Matt do his serious, brooding Doctor more often. His motor-mouthy bits could be fun, but they were far too numerous. Even in the Christmas special "The Snowmen" where we were promised a darker, more brooding Doctor (and all the teasers leading up to it showed that type of Doctor), as soon as the episode strted to move along he was turned back into "wacky Doctor" again.

Just another example of Moffat's "tell, don't show" philosophy, I suppose.

It's ultimately subjective, but I never really warmed up to Matt's Doctor because of how childlike and twitchy he was. I really liked the scenes in Series 5 where he was channeling an old grandfatherly man, but overall the emotional bits from Series 6 and 7 left me cold for the most part. If he had been more slower and more reserved, I might have liked his Doctor a lot more. But another thing is that I still feel that he was way too youthful for the part, which is why both he and Peter Davison remained "the new Doctor" until very late in their respective tenures. That is why I'm looking forward to Capaldi and I hope that his presence can make the show more enjoyable for me again.

I agree around 90%, lol.

I liked the childlike aspects Matt brought to the role as well. It showed that, despite having been around for a millenia and having seen so much, the Doctor was still exploring and discovering. He was still amazed at how amazing the universe could be and I think that is a very important thing to have in a character like the Doctor, especially when so many kids love the show. I just think it was over done.

The first time Matt dropped into his serious/old man act was the first time I truely liked his Doctor. His young look and youthful excitement made for a beautiful dichotomy and it really showed that Matt was a pretty good actor.

There was room for both, but I think the ratio was what spoiled it. If anything the ratio should have been reversed, but then the serious direction may have shown how untalented Moffat is as a showrunner and how awful many of the writers were/are. Keeping the main character so childish allowed them to pretend that it is "a kid's show at the end of the day" so they didn't need to bother with actual intelligence in their stories (for the most part, there were also good points, lol).

Nope. The Weeping Angels I think were a very good invention, even iconic. But the episode surrounding them didn't have that sort of memorable quality.

Feeling a lot better knowing his two eps will be spread over two seasons, as I am yet to find any of his episodes above average, Cold War was IMHO his best effort and it was was distinctly average.

Please, for the love of God don't...I have nightmares about this.

Depends on your definitions I guess. I know of lots of people who have been recruited to Who-viewing by regular viewers using Blink as the hook.
If that's not classic I don't know what is.
There's was something iconic about 'Dalek' and 'Father's Day' too, in my book. Ah, those were the days.

Better get used to them then. With his experience co-helming Sherlock he'd be a solid option.
But it needn't be a bad thing if he took a more back-seat role and just wrote the odd episode here and there. I don't suppose there's a rule anywhere that says the showrunner *has* to write the opener, finale, Christmas special and mid-season double.

The Crimson Horror reminded me way to much of Mark of the Rani with the terrible scene chewing acting and hammy dialogue. As much as I respect Mr Gatiss, I'm never enthused soley by the mention of his name being attached to a script.

Yeah I suppose but the problem is he'll probably end up writing at least more than one or two eps a season. He's also not the only person with show runner experience in that writing team.

I saw Toby Whithouse's name mooted at one point. But that was a long time ago and I've seen nothing about it since.
I guess I don't care who it is as long as they're up to the rigours of the job and care about where the show goes.

Same, Whithouse has a mixed bag of Who eps under his belt. I'm tempted to say Neil Cross, he's done lead scriptwriter duties for Spooks and he created Luther. Maybe they could split the showrunner position and have someone like Gatiss managing behind the scenes and people like Cross and Whithouse plugging out the scripts.
I don't care as long they're up for the job and I'm not sure Gatiss is from a scriptwriting perspective.

I love Gatiss' writing outside of Who, but like most people here his work for the show has been...mixed. However, I'm hoping that with Capaldi's hopefully darker Doctor, these episodes will be in the style of 'The Unquiet Dead' which I think is his best work for the show yet, followed by, in my opinion, Night Terrors.

Victory and Lantern were his strongest episodes.

The only thing wrong with the episode was the colors of the Daleks ,that's all

Hated that about Matt, too childish. The only episodes were he has proper a balance of serious and goofy was, the Power of Three, The Vampires of Venice and The Eleventh Hour.

His childishness ruins such episodes as , The Impossible astronaut two parter, Dinosaurs on a space ship, The Curse of the black spot ( Matt was bad in it but the episode is still a great story ) , Mabey capaldi will be too dark Hahahaa. I didn't warm to Eccelson until Aliens of a London loved him ever since. With Tennent i didn't like how young he looked but after I loved him since tooth claw and loved him forever, with smith I only liked him in certain episodes. With capaldi hopefully he will be amazing every episode after his first episode at least. (Every doctor is bad at there first story)

I hope that gatisis is writes an episode about HG wells or Jules Verne set in the 1800s.

I'm looking forward to his Jane Austin episode. I hope it's more like The Unicorn and the wasp episode.

I love how divisive this guy's work is! :)
I'd also be interested to hear a defence of Victory from someone who truly enjoyed it, if you'll indulge me.

Seriously, what is up with all the hate on Mark Gatiss. I would say he is actually one of my favorite writers. He wrote The unquiet dead, which was fantastic, The idiot's lantern and Victory of the daleks weren't that good, but I thought they were OK, Night terrors was very good and so was Cold war, and The crimson horror was fantastic. Also, has everyone forgotten about An adventure in space and time? Why would you want him to leave after he wrote that?

Umm, The unquiet dead?

That sounds freaking awesome.

I haven't liked the writing since series 5. I thought some of the episodes from the most recent series were completely awful - Amy and Rory's conclusion, the Rings of Akhaten, the Crimson Horror, Cold War, the Name of the Doctor, and the Time of the Doctor (which I couldn't even finish) were just unwatchable. I don't understand how one of the best series on television can decline like this. Sherlock, too, has suffered from bad writing in Series 3. Maybe it's the pressure on the writers.

In their defence, Neil Cross was new for 2013. Simon Nye and Richard Curtis both nailed it in 2010, though. Plus Chibnall hadn't written Who in three years, Gatiss and Whithouse hadn't in four, Steven Moffat himself all but doubled his ep count. It was a bit of a newer frontier.

I wonder if all the changes behind-the-scenes have anything to do with it. Maybe when RTD had a stable production team, they could afford the risk of inducting more new writers, but when Beth Willis, Piers Wenger and Caro Skinner bermuda triangled, they had to depend more on known quantities.

Because S6 did all right for new voices, too - Stephen Thompson wrote his first ep, Neil Gaiman wrote his first ep, and Tom MacRae and Matt Graham were both doing their first stories in half a decade. It's only S7 and now S8 that have been particularly repetitive, with lots of S7 writers doubling up. Chibnall, Cross, Gatiss - previously a guest writer would only write one story each series, for S7 it was only Whithouse, Thompson and Gaiman. With yet another new executive producer to bed in, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a very good reason they're sticking to who they know.

Still disappointing! More variety is good.

Blink not memorable? Hmm, fair enough. I'd have to disagree personally, but everyone has different expectations of course. That for me was a really stand out episode.

All of those episodes you just mentioned apart from Time of the doctor were fantastic.

Yeah, I can't wait for his ZzzzZzzz...

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