Mark Gatiss talks representation and diversity in Queers and Doctor Who

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In a recent talk to the Oxford Union, Mark Gatiss (League of Gentlemen, Doctor Who, Sherlock) had plenty to say about his upcoming TV project, Queers.

Earlier in the week, we reported on some League of Gentlemen news that came from Mark Gatiss’ talk at the Oxford Union. In the audience for the event was CultBox writer Tom Marshall, who chronicled it on his own blog.

Also covered as part of that event was Queers, a new series overseen and curated by Gatiss that will be airing on BBC4 in July. It will be comprised of a monologues, many of which have been penned by first-time TV writers. During the talk, Gatiss covered some of the issues surrounding the format, particularly the issue of representation.

Tom described what was said like this:

“It’s largely about the male perspective, he [Gatiss] notes, which causes some people – myself included – a bit of discomfort as I’m not entirely convinced that the reasons he offered for not having a broader sweep on the writing front are particularly strong ones. Mark reckons that the importance of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 decriminalisation of male homosexuality justifies the mostly male experience behind the set of monologues.

“He is keen to stress that the series isn’t trying to be everything, or all things to all people, and is concerned that people expect you to tick every box.” 

Later, as the conversation moved on to wider issues of representation and diversity in TV, the subject of his recent work in Doctor Who came up.

Again, we quote Tom’s blog:

“On diversity, which rather followed on from the discussion of Queers, Mark mentions that one of the Victorian soldiers in the forthcoming Doctor Who story Empress of Mars… is played by a young black British actor.

“He says he wasn’t sure if he was allowed to do this for a while as he didn’t think there were any black soldiers in Victoria’s army, and wrote a long and tortuous email about whether or not it was a good idea, but then went back and read the historical record and found there were actually some individual cases of black soldiers in the army at the time, and so they went ahead with it; he adds that Who is a completely fantastical world anyway so it’s hardly the greatest leap of logic, and says it’s important to be more representational if you can be.” 

Interestingly, Gatiss revisited the subject on gender and sexuality in a chat on the Doctor Who fan show following the broadcast of Emperor of Mars. You can hear what he had to say in the video below.

Again, thanks to Tom for the heads-up on Gatiss’ talk – you can read his full account of the event here.

You can read our review of ‘Empress of Mars’ here, and our Doctor Who episode guide here.