Monday 24 June 2019


Mark Gatiss: 'The geek has inherited the Earth'

Mark Gatiss, the Sherlock actor, says geekiness is now the mainstay of television

'Geek' Mark Gatiss
The 'quirky' Mark Gatiss Photo: Andrew Crowley/The Telegraph

They may once have be traditionally teased at school, or left as outsiders for their unusual tastes, but it appears the geeks of the world have found their place in the world – on television.

Cult shows and programmes celebrating geekiness have become part of the broadcasting mainstream, according to Sherlock actor and screenwriter Mark Gatiss.

Gatiss, star of Wolf Hall and Coalition, said the “entirety” of pop culture is now dominated by people like himself, who grew up with a quirky love of horror films and Arthur Conan Doyle.

“’Cult’ is now this huge thing,” he told the Radio Times. “Basically, the geek has inherited the Earth.

“I suppose if geekdom has become the mainstream, then something else must be happening on the fringes that we’re not aware of.

Martin Freeman in Sherlock (BBC)

“Really straight down-the-line, searing kitchen-sink drama, maybe. “

His opinion is reflected in the popularity of shows including Sherlock, which has an obsessive cult following online, Doctor Who, The Big Bang Theory and the IT Crowd.

Speaking of his own televisual tastes growing up, he added: “Of course, I was not alone in loving horror movies: the entirety of popular culture is currently dominated by people like me.”

Gatiss also disclosed the inspiration for his own performances, including a love for Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarns and a keen observation of Peter Mandelson.

Mark Gatiss as Peter Mandelson in Coalition (Rory Mulvey / Channel 4)

He has previously revealed he based his Sherlock character Mycroft on the politician, but has now admitted he also used traits for his portrayal of Stephen Gardiner in Wolf Hall.

“In all of recorded history there’s someone standing behind the throne, whispering in the monarch’s ear, plotting: like the poor, Mandelson will always be with us,” he said. “It’s a great part to play: you can imply an enormous amount of power without having to do a great deal, just be soft-spoken and threatening.

“After Mycroft I played Stephen Gardiner in Wolf Hall – a kind of Tudor Peter Mandelson – and then I played Peter Mandelson himself in Coalition. So it’s an unholy triumvirate.”


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