Mark Gatiss to Head Up Bookshop-Based Period Mystery


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Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Stefanie Hutson

Writer, actor, director, and producer Mark Gatiss has a new project on the horizon, and we're excited. Best known for playing Mycroft Holmes in the BBC's Sherlock, writing episodes of Doctor Who, and heading up the A Ghost Story for Christmas project in recent years, his latest project will see him writing and starring in a new period mystery.

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Post-war London – the era Bookish will inhabit

Set against the backdrop of post-war London in 1946, Bookish will introduce viewers to Gabriel Book (Gatiss), an erudite and unconventional sleuth whose expertise and insights are as vast as the collection of books in his little shop. Because the police in cosy/cosy-ish mysteries are never quite as competent as real detectives, we'll see Gabriel Book using the vast knowledge he's gained from his book collection to help police unravel a series of especially perplexing crimes.

Bookish will begin as a six-part series blending mystery, a love of books, and the unique challenges of life in post-war London. Each case will span two 70-minute episodes, a length that's similar to shows like Endeavour, Grace, and Foyle's War. It's a format that lends itself to richer, more complex cases and enhanced character development. 

Alongside Gatiss, we'll see Polly Walker (Bridgerton) as Book's wife Trottie – with a twist. Because Book is gay and that was still illegal in the UK during the 1940s, his marriage with Trottie is what's often referred to as a “lavender marriage” – a marriage of convenience designed to protect the reputation of same sex-attracted people. She runs the wallpaper shop next door to his bookshop, and while he loves her very much, it's not a physical relationship.

Of the new series, Gatiss says: 

To misquote Goodfellas: “All my life I’ve wanted to be a detective!” I couldn’t be more excited to be bringing this series to the screen, and to plunge viewers into our intoxicating version of post-War London. It’s an under-examined time and an under-examined world and Bookish is the strange, funny and thrilling show that I’ve always wanted to make.

Like any good bookshop, Book's store will feature a host of regulars who come and go from his life. The supporting cast will include Conor Finch as Jack, Elliot Levey as Inspector Bliss, and Buket Kömür as Nora. Some of the guest stars will include Joely Richardson, Daniel Mays and Jonas Nay.

Behind the scenes, Bookish will be brought to life by an experienced team, with Eagle Eye Drama (Hotel Portofino) producing and Carolina Giammetta directing. Executive producers for Eagle Eye are Jo McGrath and Walter Iuzzolino, and Matthew Sweet will be co-writing alongside Gatiss. Christopher Arcache will serve as producer.

Bookish was commissioned by UKTV Head of Drama Helen Perry, and it was ordered by Alibi Channel Director Emma Ayech. The broadcaster is the same force behind crime shows like Annika, Traces and the Barcelona-based series The Diplomat.

It's too early to have a precise premiere date, but Bookish is expected to premiere in 2025 on the UK's Alibi channel. Its US streaming home has not yet been named. 

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