Inspired by 20 Things You May (or May Not) Know About BBC Sherlock - I bring you:
12 Things It May Delight You To Find Out About Mark Gatiss
I wanted to move a bit beyond the typical facts you find in the Mark tag; namely yes he’s gay, yes he’s married and yes he was once in Doctor Who with a blond wig and turned into a giant scorpion monster. This is some slightly more obscure or random Gatissian trivia, acquired from a range of interviews. The truthfulness of some of these tales rely on how much you believe the honest face of that chap up there.
- During the summer holidays home from college Mark worked as a gardener at the psychiatric hospital opposite his parents’ house, and prior to the League of Gentlemen taking off he worked on Rolf Harris’ Cartoon Club opening fan letters from children and forging Rolf’s signature on the replies, along with the odd rather rude doodle.
- Mark is a keen collector of fossils, having briefly wanted to be a palaeontologist as a child. It was by dragging the rest of the League of Gentlemen into a little shop near Brighton to examine the fossils in the window that they encountered a shopkeeper whose terrified reaction to their browsing would inspire Royston Vasey’s ‘local shop’ and the characters of Tubbs and Edward.
- He first met his husband Ian online, where Mark was wooed by his perfect spelling and they mostly chatted about grammar. In 2008 they got married in Middle Temple, in the City of London, underneath a portrait of Edward Carson QC, the man who prosecuted Oscar Wilde, and to whom Mark stuck two fingers up at during his speech.
- During the course of his life-long love affair with Doctor Who he has served on numerous occasions as author, screenwriter, audio writer, audio actor, screen actor, documentary narrator and subject; has portrayed both the Doctor (in a spoof) and the Master (in an audio drama) as well as villain of the week in the main series, and has acted alongside nine of the eleven actors to have played the Doctor.
- Mark was a vegetarian for 15 years before falling back into meat-eating ways when he became bored of the typical limited vegetarian choices available at most restaurants. Shortly afterwards he was called upon to judge an exotic meat eating contest in the guise of the League’s demon butcher Hilary Briss, which he described as one of the strangest and grimmest afternoons of his life.
- Mark and Ian have a seven year old golden Labrador Retriever named Bunsen, who guest-starred in Mark’s adaptation of The First Men in the Moon as Professor Cavor’s dog Faraday. Mark claims to have trained Bunsen extensively for the role with the enticement of carrots.
- Some years ago he wrote a work of historical erotic gay literature, set during the Civil War, published under a pseudonym. When asked about it by a journalist he said he had tried anything just to reach the word count, and that if you can write a pornographic novel you can do almost anything - it is so difficult.
- He built a Victorian-style laboratory in a previous house complete with blood-red walls, gas lamps, a stuffed cat in a bell jar and a variety of other curios, but couldn’t find a use for it beyond showing it off to dinner party guests. Apparently most of the contents of this room is now strewn throughout their house; a situation ‘tolerated’ by Ian.
- During filming for the League as hapless vet Mr Chinnery, Mark ended up in hospital after the special effects for an exploding dog (compressed air firing red jelly and gloop into his face) caused corneal abrasions.
- Mark is patron of the Undershaw Preservation Trust, a group established to help save the former residence of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard, of which Ian is also a volunteer.
- He ended up playing Mycroft at the suggestion of co-writer Steve Thompson, after Mark had recently auditioned for the role of British politician Peter Mandelson and they were exploring the idea of Mycroft sharing similar ‘reptilian’ characteristics. His now-trademark umbrella was Mark’s idea, initially just to create a good silhouette for the warehouse scene.
- Before meeting Ian he had a partner who lived in Vancouver, who he once surprised by secretly flying to Canada and turning up at his work disguised as a Mexican flower seller. Just sit for a while and picture this.