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Published on July 11th, 2013 | by Meredith Burdett

Gatiss’ Thoughts on Live Doctor Who Episode

The biggest gimmick that the Doctor Who production team has employed for the 50th anniversary is the filming of the show in 3D as a one-off.


But could a live episode of Doctor Who be just around the corner? According to Mark Gatiss, regular Doctor Who writer as well as Sherlock executive producer, is up for the idea!

This all stems from a conversation that Gatiss took part in at the recent Paris Comic Con where he was asked about the possibility of shooting a live episode of Sherlock, something that gave him the heebie-jeebies just contemplating the idea:

Not for Sherlock! I’m going grey just at the prospect! Absolutely not.

However, the thought of a live Doctor Who episode was something that intrigued Gatiss especially as he had heard it mentioned before:

I seem to remember Russell harbouring a desire to do a live Doctor Who. ‘Forty-five minutes to save the world!’ I remember David [Tennant] blanching when he was telling me about it, even though we’d done The Quatermass Experiment… It’s possible…It would probably have to be a very contained thing where the Doctor was trying to get out of a lift or something.

But therein lays the problem with a live episode of Doctor Who: it would have to be very self-contained and very simply done, with minimal effects. It can be argued that this works fine within Doctor Who; Midnight is certainly one of the more inventive episodes of the new era of Doctor Who and that is set in a room with a small guest cast. But what could the production team do with that format next?

What would you all like to see, a live episode of Doctor Who or a more SFX-laden pre-recorded episode?


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About the Author


What happens when an eight year old kid watches the 1993 repeat run of Planet of the Daleks? He pretty much ends up here writing about the show that grabbed hold of him and never let go!

7 Responses to Gatiss’ Thoughts on Live Doctor Who Episode

  1. avatar TonyS says:

    The nearest they have come so far is 42, which, although not live, ran in real time. I’m not sure whether it’s a good idea or not. If they do it just for the sake of having done it, I’d rather they didn’t.

    • avatar Lewis Seymour says:

      A live episode isn’t as bad an idea as the much vaunted Buffyesque Musical one everyone talked about a few years ago! But I’d generally say that I’d much rather have *good* episodes than live, musical or 3D ones just for the sake of it!

  2. avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

    Please no live episode of Doctor Who. That way soap-opera-land lies! Surely our beloved show is beyond such cheap gimmicks! …Oh, hold on, they’re jumping on the 3D bandwagon? Maybe our show isn’t beyond such things after all!

    • avatar Spider-pope says:

      Speaking of soap operas, anyone wanting a laugh should watch the ‘Eastenders’ live episode. Watching mediocre at best actors flummox lines and directions was hilarious.

  3. avatar iLikeTheUDK says:

    Actually having some VFX done in real time isn’t so hard really. There are some great real time renderers out there.

  4. avatar vortexter says:

    No live episodes please! If Doctor Who is to be live then put a story on stage in the west end.

  5. avatar Lewis Seymour says:

    “Midnight” would have been a perfect live episode actually – it was effectively a stage play (which is where RTD’s roots lie). If you got a playwright – wasn’t Simon Stephens interested at one point? – maybe they’d be able to pull it off.

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