And on how he became a spitfire pilot… Taster for a full interview later in the week (Warning: minor spoilers)
SFX : The Daleks and World War II is a pretty splendid combination. Was that actually your pitch or was it something that Steven requested?
Mark Gatiss: "Steven simply said ‘Churchill vs the Daleks!’ And that’s one of those pitches that you want to be given. It’s not like ‘Picnic with a man’! It’s very exciting. And it came directly out of Steven taking his kids to the Cabinet War Rooms – they were absolutely spellbound by it. So that’s the setting. I was initially intimidated by the thought of doing the Daleks after all these years but then I suppose I’ve always had an idea of what I’d like to do with them. They are, weirdly, an inherently World War II feeling creature. The Nazi connection is there, and also the world of the early ’60s is very heavily post-War – they feel like they belong to it. There’s a nice match to it.”
SFX : People always say the Daleks are difficult to write for. Was that your experience?
“Yes and no. My direct inspiration will become clear – it’s ‘Power Of The Daleks’. It’s an episode I’ve never seen, but I love the idea of them being sly. It’s one of the most underused things in Doctor Who – the idea of them being silent and clever is very scary, much more so than when they’re just barking orders. So there’s the idea of them having to pretend to be something they’re not… Even if ‘Power Of The Daleks’ wasn’t lost you’d think it’s worth doing that idea again because it’s so strong. In a way it’s difficult because there are certain things you can’t imagine Daleks saying, but at the same time by making them sly and pretending to be what they’re not you can actually get away with it – as I hope I do with them saying, ‘Would you care for some tea?’ And that’s an amazing thing to hear in a Dalek voice! I hope it doesn’t sound like a sketch, but that’s the role they are playing in this episode.”
SFX : Is it true you get to play a Spitfire pilot in this?
“When we were filming last summer someone came up to me and said, ‘Is it true you’re going to play the voice of the Spitfire pilot?’ And I said ‘No…’ The next day two people approached me and said, ‘Oh, that’s clever – are you doing a cameo as the Spitfire pilot?’ And I said ‘No…’ And then a few weeks ago Andy Pryor, the casting director, emailed me and said, ‘I understand you want to play the Spitfire pilot…’ I emailed him back and said, ‘No! But I will if you want me to!’ Thus do I become – Wikipedia take note – the first and only person so far to write for the series and be in it twice ! Now that’s going on my tombstone.”
Come back to SFX.co.uk on Friday for the full interview!