Writer and actor Mark Gatiss loves horror so much he once hosted a history of the subject for the BBC. So it comes as no surprise to learn that “Sleep No More,” this Saturday’s Gatiss-penned episode of Doctor Who, sounds like one of the scarier adventures to star Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman’s time travelers.
“I said to Steve (Moffat, Doctor Who showrunner), I’m going to write it like a horror film and then we’ll rein in it,” says the Gatiss. “But we didn’t really. [Laughs] For me, the DNA of Doctor Who, from my childhood onwards, is fear. It’s always fun, and it’s always a cosy scare, because of the environment in which it’s conceived and shown. But it’s really crucial to me that you get proper scares. For kids, it’s wonderful to be frightened. I still have that. One of my abiding joys in life is a good scare!”
“Sleep No More” is told in the found footage format and comprises images from the 38th century discovered in the wreckage of a space station. If the show does cause you to have sleepless nights, you can blame Gatiss’ own insomnia.
“I’m very interested in the mechanics of sleep — and the idea of one day getting some,” he chuckles. “Once, when I was lying wide awake with insomnia, I suddenly thought, ‘What if we eventually get to a stage, as we will, where the work drive that we are all slaves to disposes of the need for sleep?’ I conceived of it as a satire on where we’re going because of [smart phones] and the fact that no one is really ‘off’ any more. You have to be available! I had this idea of the Wide Awakes, who are thrusting ones, and the rebellious element who are known as Rip Van Winkles, the Rips. It was going to be a two-parter, and all that back-story was part of that. In the end, I crunched it down once it became found footage.”
“Sleep No More” will screen on BBC America, Nov. 14, 9pm ET. You can see a trailer for the episode, below.