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Out of Time

In Twice Upon a Time, Mark Gatiss plays a First World War captain whose days are numbered. He’s bracing himself for a painful goodbye…

War is hell,” declares Mark Gatiss, sitting on a folding chair amidst the cratered, muddy, foggy bleakness of a First World War battlefield. “But I’m having a brilliant time,” he adds. Mark, 51, is not only a prolific Doctor Who writer (of such episodes as 2005’s The Unquiet Dead, 2010’s Victory of the Daleks and this year’s Empress of Mars), but also a four-time guest star. Previously, he portrayed Professor Lazarus in 2007’s The Lazarus Experiment, voiced ‘Danny Boy’ in Victory of the Daleks and 2011’s A Good Man Goes to War, and guested as Gantok in 2011’s The Wedding of River Song. Now, in Twice Upon a Time, he dons an army uniform and a moustache to play a First World War captain who, moments before his death, is plucked from his timestream and dropped into the South Pole in 1986. “Fourth time’s a charm,” says Mark, fondly recalling one of Doctor Who’s greatest character actors. “I’m the new Philip Madoc!”

Mark says this will probably be his final work on TV Doctor Who. “A few months ago, in an Empress of Mars production meeting, Steven [Moffat, showrunner] took me to one side and said, ‘Look, I know you get booked up very quickly. Would you keep June and July free? Because I’m writing a nice part in my last story, and I’d like you to be there when I go.’ Which I was very touched by. Immediately I started crying, probably. I said, ‘I’d be delighted.’ And it’s a fantastic part.” In 2007, Mark became only the third person in Doctor Who history to have chalked up both a writing and an acting credit on the TV show (after Victor Pemberton and Glyn Jones). In Twice Upon a Time, he’s joined in the trenches by the fourth: Toby Whithouse (writer of episodes including 2006’s School Reunion, 2011’s The God Complex and 2017’s The Lie of the Land), who’s playing a German soldier in the War to End All Wars. He’s spent most of this morning aiming a semi-automatic pistol at Mr Gatiss’ head.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

This festive edition of Doctor Who Magazine includes an exclusive preview of this year's Christmas Special, Twice Upon a Time, plus there are exclusive interviews with Christmas Special stars Pearl Mackie (Bill Potts) and Mark Gatiss (the Captain). Doctor Who Magazine 520 also includes: • A in-depth look at the making of BBC Worldwide's new version of Douglas Adams' 'lost' 1979 Doctor Who story Shada • Actor Daniel Hill and production assistant Olivia Bazalgette chat to DWM about how they met on Shada... and how they later went on to marry • Rare and previously unseen photographs from the Cambridge location filming of Shada in October 1979 • DWM's first ever interview with 100-year-old Earl Cameron, who played the doomed astronaut Glyn Williams in the 1966 story The Tenth Planet • A tribute to Paddy Russell, Doctor Who's first female director and a television pioneer • We look back on Doctor Who’s first Christmas specials – the feature-length omnibus repeats that were specially created at Christmas time • Part two of The Phantom Piper, our new comic strip adventure featuring the Doctor and Bill • A festive Fact of Fiction explores the 2011 Christmas Special The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe • Previews, book and audio reviews, news, the DWM Christmas Quiz, The Blogs of Doom, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!