Co-Creator Live Chats: Mark Gatiss
Sherlock co-creator and star Mark Gatiss chats with fans on 14th May 2012 about season 2 of the hit series, writing The Hounds of Baskerville, and the dubious distinction of being a part of Sherlock’s family tree, portraying brother Mycroft in the series.
For full transcript read more below, or you can visit the PBS site HERE
[Please Note: Contains Spoilers]
Hello, and welcome to our MASTERPIECE Live Chat today with Mark Gatiss, who wears many hats on Sherlock: co-creating the series with Steven Moffat, writing last night’s “The Hounds of Baskerville,” and portraying Sherlock’s older brother Mycroft Holmes. We’ll begin in just a few minutes. Feel free to start sending us your questions now!
We’ll get started as soon as Mark enters the chat and says hello!
And here we go!
What did you learn from the first series that was most helpful in making the second?
I suppose the importance of treating them as movies on TV, really. 90 min adventures demand a certain scale of story-telling. It’s very exciting and quite liberating to move at that kind of pace but it absolutely eats up story! The reaction was so incredible, though that we all felt very excited about coming back for more.
What scene in Hounds were you most excited to see come to life on screen?
I’m very proud of the big deduction scene by the fireplace. Benedict had to do it only three days into coming back so it was a huge evening for everyone. I love the rattling pace of it but also the thrill of seeing Sherlock out of his comfort zone. That and John’s obvious hurt at being treated so badly! Paul and Fabian (the DOP) did such a fabulous job with it, using a split diopter lens of the type often used in big 60s movies so that two actors can remain in ficus at the same time. I can’t imagine it being any better realised.
Do you have a hound?
Loved the fireplace scene! Lighting was incredible.
Yes! We have a six year old Labrador called Bunsen. He is the light of our lives and, though he leaves gigantic footprints, he is in no way scary. I adore dogs and it pained me very much to have to have the Hound in Sherlock shot. It was a lovely, soft gigantic creature.
Christine C. :
What do you find most difficult about being a co-creator of and, at the same time, an actor in Sherlock?
It’s not really difficult, it’s just about time management. It’s extremely useful to wear two hats. I try to be around on set as much as possible anyway but it’s sometimes nice to only concentrate on the acting side. I have occasionally had to go to urgent lunchtime meetings with Sue whilst still dressed as Mycroft - though I never take my umbrella in case people think it’s an offensive weapon.
Whose idea was it to give Mycroft that incredible umbrella?
I just wanted to express my gratitude on behalf of the entire Sherlock fandom! Your writing is superb!
Mine. Is it incredible? It’s just a brolly! It originally came from wanting to create a good silhouette in the first scene in ‘Pink’ where Mycroft and John meet. I wasn’t trying to invoke John Steed but there’s something very Establishment about it- and that’s what Mycroft is. The Dark Government and the Old School Tie. I think it’s his comfort blanket. He may even sleep with it. The umbrella comes from a wonderful old shop in New Oxford St. They still advertise ‘dagger canes’ and ‘sword sticks’ but, to their great regret, are no longer allowed to stock them!
Thank you, Morgan. Very kind.
How are you different from Mycroft? What if anything do you admire about him?
just want to say THANK YOU for the fantastic work!love you,love Steven Moffat,love Sherlock!Cheers from Russia!
I’m totally different, I hope. I wish I was half as clever but I’m glad I’m not detached like him. ‘The Ice Man’ as Moriarty calls him. He and Sherlock have both clearly decided that they mustn’t get involved with human relationships. They perceive them as weaknesses. ‘Caring is not an advantage’. Yet, deep down, Mycroft clearly does care about his brother. All he wants to do is to bring him into the fold. To stop him being a loose cannon. I’d like to find a way of showing more than we have that he’s actually even cleverer than Sherlock - but the deductions are hard enough as it is!
I love everyone on the show and I adore your portrayal of Mycroft. As well as Rupert’s as Lestrade. In ‘Hounds’ he says “I don’t just do what your brother tells me.” Will we get a chance to see more inter-action between the two?
Thank you, Russia. We’re delighted and amazed by your country’s love of the show!
We’re chatting live with Sherlock co-creator, writer and actor Mark Gatiss! We’ll get to as many questions as we can in the time allotted!
Mycroft and Lestrade haven’t appeared in any scenes together yet so it would be nice and Rupert’s such a lovely man, it’d be a pleasure. Have you seen ‘Maurice’? Haha.
Would you like a real-life brother like Sherlock?
I have a real-life brother but he’s nothing like Sherlock! I’m not sure I’d want such a highly-strung brother, it must be exhausting. Still, he’d get you out of any trouble and also be able to tell you what you had for breakfast just by looking at the crease in your trousers.
There seems to be so much history between Sherlock and Mycroft. Will we ever find out what exactly happened between them?
I really love Mycroft’s soothing, yet threatening tone and his “britishness”.
No. As Yoda might say “Back story show not you”! Far better to leave things in everyone’s imaginations. It’s nice to give little hints here and there but never a full answer. Why are the Holmes brothers the way they are? What are their parents like? Maybe we’ll see one day. We actually cut a bit from ‘Pink’ which gave a bit too much away about the obvious frisson of animosity that exists between them. It’s not there in the original stories it comes entirely from Billy Wilder and Izzy Diamond’s brilliant ‘Private Life of Sherlock Holmes’ and Christopher Lee’s cold, disdainful Mycroft. if you haven’t seen it - do!
From the start of filming did you decide that the role of Mycroft is yours?
Well, Mycroft wasn’t in the pilot so, no. But when we came to rethinking and reshooting episode one it just sort of happened. I’d just auditoned to play peter Mandelson in TV film and we’d already discussed how reptilian and Mandelsonian we wanted Mycroft to be. It was actually Steve Thompson who suggested it. I was happy to comply! We also saw a great chance to fool people into thinking I was Moriarty. And it worked!
So. The scene in Buckingham Palace, with the infamous Sheet. Were you able to all keep serious or did it need a few takes?
Thank you for doing such a superb job with the “Hounds” story! It’s one of my favorite stories and perhaps the episode I’ve been most looking forward to- and it was FANTASTIC.
One of my favourite scenes is definitely the Buckingham Palace scene :D
It was actually a very smooth day, that. A Sunday, as i recall, in the Guild Hall. I think Ben found the (near) nakedness quite liberating! He did fall over at one point when I stepped on the sheet. It was like seeing a Mummy tumble out of its bandages.
do you have a ‘mind palace’ like sherlock in hound where you go to when writing?
Thanks ‘M’. Glad you enjoyed.
I don’t have a mind palace, no. It’s a great idea but you need Sherlock’s level of mental discipline. I ‘d love to sue such a thing on long plane journeys or on the Tube when it;’s packed full of people. It’d be nice to be able to drift away - or find some precious piece of memory. I think I’ve got a Mind Hut. yes. A Mind Hut. <
Is there an obscure reference from the Canon that you’re most proud of sneaking in there? A prop or a line of dialogue?
We’ve got nearly 30 minutes to go in our MASTERPIECE Live Chat with Mark Gatiss!
Did you see that ‘Mind Palace’ was trending on twitter in America last night? That was very exciting, I was quite proud.
Well, we take great delight in sneaking in obscure references to the Canon as you can tell. I’m glad we got James Phillimore and his umbrella in! I’m proudest of restoring the idea that Sherlock has huge gaps in his knowledge (eg the Solar System). I loved that as a child and you so rarely see it. He’s a specialist not an omniscient bore. It’s great to see him foul up now and then. <
Will there ever be a gag reel released on DVD? Your commentaries frequently refer to “that’s one for the gag reel.” We’re all salivating like hopeful hounds.
Yes, amazing that “Mind Palace’ was a countrywide tend, even for four minutes!
Gag reel. Hmm. There are mistakes but they tend to be more frustrating than funny! Maybe one day when we’re all very old.
With contributions to Sherlock and Doctor Who, it seems you only need James Bond to complete some kind of British icons collection. Would you be interested if the call ever came?
Are you kidding? I ADORE James Bond. In fact, I’ve just been in a radio version of ‘From Russia With Love’ which is on in June. I’ve rarely been so happy. Dame Eileen Atkins is Rosa Klebb and I play Kronstein the chess master. Heaven! My favourite is O.H.M.S.S. - a hugely underrated and gorgeous film.
Monday May 14, 2012 1:40
What can PBS viewers do help with the SaveUndershaw Project?
And so does Steven, of course. I think we probably talking about Bond when we first discussed Sherlock Holmes!
Monday May 14, 2012 1:41
Mark, you would make a terrific villian in a James Bond film!
The Undershaw Preservation Trust, of which Mark is their patron, is working to preserve Arthur Conan Doyle’s home for future generations of Doyleans.
Undershaw is a three-pipe problem. If it were just a question of raising the money to buy it, I think everyone around the world would sort it out in weeks. But it’s still the subject of a judicial review. The best thing to do is to try and raise awareness and hope that will influence the outcome. It’s a national disgrace that the house has been left to rot. Doyle is one of our greatest writers. Full stop.
Сongratulations on winning of BAFTAs! “Sherlock” really deserve it.
Thank you. We’re all delighted. I don’t think any of us anticipated people would love the show this much. It’s very humbling.
What’s your opinion of all the Sherlock fanfiction and fanart: flattering or horrifying?
My partner and I just want to say you’re our absolute hero. You grew up to be everything you ever wanted to be. That doesn’t happen very often and is incredibly inspirational. We thank you.
I don’t know as I haven’t read any. If you don’t believe me then I can assure I hardly have time to get through my own work without reading someone else’s! I’m very happy that the show inspires other people to write. I get sent a lot of pictures which is very nice and there are some really talented people out there. <
Thanks Joanne. I count my blessings every day!
You know how Moriarty’s theme is ‘Stayin’ Alive’? Well, what would be Mycroft’s theme?
How many seasons are you actually planning to do?
A few more questions with Mark before we wrap up!
Three hundred and forty six!
Can you give us a three-word teaser for the third season (like Woman, Hound, Professor was for season two)? Please!
It was The Woman, The Hound, The Fall wasn’t it? Well…
The Return. The Middle One. The Third One?
I’m being mean. But then, you know, I am.
I’d just like to say thank you for introducing me to the original Sherlock Holmes stories - they’re utterly brilliant. Are we likely to see an adaptation of the ‘Dying Detective’? It would be very funny!
Alison in FL:
How very Mycroft of you. ;-)
We’re all so chuffed that new fans are going back to Doyle’s stories. It’s a dream come true. ‘The Dying Detective’ is a very good late story. I’ve always liked it, especially when Sherlock so hurts Watson’s feelings by questioning his medical credentials. Ouch!
Will we ever get to meet Mummy Holmes?
Perhaps. And art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms…
Are you looking forward to doing episodes outside the canon?
Well, they already are to a great extent. We take bits and pieces from favourites and sometimes the structure of something like, say ‘A study in Scarlet’ but there’s an awful lot that’s already very new. I think we;’re very happy sticking with that approach and mixing the old and new.
Will we see much more of Molly?
I just wanted to say THANK YOU for this fantastic show. It’s brilliant! And I agree with Molly^^ thanks for introducing me to the original stories!
Yes but we’re planning to give her a new job so we dont have to film in that xxxxxxx morgue any more! Maybe she could work as a life guard, like in Baywatch. Somewhere very warm.
Have you any advice for how to survive the long wait ‘till series 3?
Drink and dance and love and lie/Love the reeling midnight through for tomorrow we shall die! (but alas we never do.)
And, last but not least, our final question —
have any of you started writing for the next series?
For more on Sherlock, please visit the MASTERPIECE web site: http://www.pbs.org/sherlock. To order “Sherlock” on DVD and Blu-Ray, please visit ShopPBS.org!
Dear mr.Gatiss, thank you very much for your film! It’s fully changed all my life, my job and my mind
You, friend, are a genius.
Thanks for taking time with us today and answering questions!
We’ve had several meetings and we’re very, very excited about getting going! Certain things may already have been committed to paper, yes. Little bits of paper. That fly around. Like a man falling off a building. Has anyone suggested that Sherlock by the graveside might actually be a ghost?!
“The Reichenbach Fall,” the Sherlock, Series 2 finale, airs this Sunday, May 20th on MASTERPIECE on PBS (check local listings). Join us next week as we chat live with co-creator and writer Steven Moffat - http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/sherlock/season2_chat_moffat.html
Thanks for participating in today’s Live Chat with Mark Gatiss! Special thanks to Mark for taking the time to be with us! As always, for all things MASTERPIECE, visit us at pbs.org/masterpiece, and find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/masterpiecepbs) and Twitter (@masterpiecepbs) for the latest news and updates!
Enjoy ‘Reichenbach’, it’s great! bring a hankie. Thanks for watching and for all your questions. x
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