As we look forward to Saturday’s installment of Doctor Who – The Unquiet Dead – the BBC Press Office has released its Phase 3 of the Press Pack. We’ve got the highlights below of the interviews with episode writer Mark Gatiss and co-star Simon Callow.
Simon Callow has portrayed the Victorian literary giant on TV in two series of An Audience With Charles Dickens, re-creating his famous public readings, and has a wealth of knowledge about the author and his work.
That’s not to say he would have said “yes” to Doctor Who if the script by Mark Gatiss, of League Of Gentlemen fame, had not impressed him so much. “When I heard that Dickens was going to be in Doctor Who, my heart rather sank,” Simon admits.
“I get sent a lot of scripts which feature him as a kind of all-purpose Victorian literary character and really understand little, if anything, about him, his life or his books.
“But, as well as being brilliantly written, Mark’s script was obviously the work of someone who knows exactly what Dickens is all about.”
Callow goes on to discuss the character of the man during this stage of his life, and his own thoughts on Doctor Who.
“Dickens was indeed very ill and unhappy at that time,” says Simon, “The script very cleverly connects his idealism, which ends up being restored by his experiences, with The Doctor’s desire to save the world.
“Initially, he is shattered by the notion that this realm of the unknown, which he has always dismissed, actually exists, but he then embraces it. As The Doctor tells him, he’s not wrong about everything, he just has more to learn.”
An acclaimed actor, stage director and author, Simon confesses he was never a fan of Doctor Who. But that’s not to say he wouldn’t have minded a shot at playing him… “When the BBC decided to bring Doctor Who back as a feature film a few years ago, one national newspaper ran a poll to ask its readers who should be the new Doctor, and I topped it…Sadly, the producers failed to take note of this highly important statement of public opinion, so I never got my chance!”
Mark Gatiss enthuses as usual in his interview, commenting on the whole concept of possession:
The League of Gentlemen star and massive Doctor Who fan says: “The original idea came from Russell T Davies, but it was ideal for me – a Victorian ghost story set at Christmas with dead coming back to life!
“I’ve always had this thing about possession. Alan Bennett once said that we all have only a few beans in the tin to rattle, and I do tend to keep coming back to the idea of things being possessed.
“They’re always my favourite kind of stories and it really must scare me on some basical level, the concept of being occupied by other entities.”
He also reveals how happy he is as a writer, actor and fan of the show with the direction it has taken:
“It’s extraordinary, but I’ve always carried in my heart a version of how I thought it should be, and it’s this one. It’s a new show, not one addressing a dwindling bunch of Doctor Who diehards like me, but a modern show for a new audience.
“People who have never heard of Doctor Who should be able to sit down, watch and say ‘I love it’.”
“Being asked to write for the new series was the best present I’ve ever had. But having wanted the show to return for so long, it was also a bit daunting and I think we (the writers) all ran around like headless chickens for a while.
The full article can be read at the BBC Press Office