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"I remember the dark times,” says Mark Gatiss, with a dramatist’s flourish. “When you’d go into WH Smith and there were TV Zone, Starburst, all these magazines. Almost as an instinct I would leaf through them. It was all American series. SeaQuest, Stargate, Deep Space Nine… they were all the same shows. The same cast shot; just change Roy Scheider’s head for someone else.

“I was thinking, ‘I just want something a bit more John Wyndham-y, a bit more curious…’”

As one century ended, the likelihood of Doctor Who coming back to TV felt more remote than ever. In 1998, the BBC had launched sci-fi drama Invasion: Earth. Its publicity flagged the show – gritty and well resourced with a rumoured £750,000 per episode – as everything Doctor Who was not. Writer Jed Mercurio, who’d later go on to create Line of Duty, sourly opined, “a certain Time Lord should be consigned to the dustbin.”

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