THE was brought up in School Aycliffe, Co Durham, and I didn’t realize until returning years later how ancient, beautiful and idyllic this Saxon village is. We would holiday in Bridlington, Scarborough, Great Yarmouth and even Hull. But the most exotic trip we took was during the long, hot summer of 1976, to Somerset. We stayed at a holiday camp and went to Wells and Cheddar Gorge. It was blisteringly hot and everything you want when you’re ten years old.
I’ve recently been reminiscing about family holidays as we lost my dad last year. He would take us fishing for mackerel and there is home-movie footage in which he is holding up the fish he’s caught. None of us were wearing life jackets and my mam couldn’t swim – it was so dangerous.
When I was 18 I went interrailing in Europe with my girlfriend at the time and some schoolfriends. We spent months planning the trip, but within two days we’d all fallen out. It ended up with just me and my girlfriend traveling together, staying in youth hostels because we were so poor. We visited as many capital cities as possible, so we could say we’d been there.
Being a bit morbid in my youth, I went to Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris to see Oscar Wilde’s grave and to Menton, in southeast France, to visit Aubrey Beardsley’s grave in Trabuquet. I went back there a couple of years ago when I was doing a documentary about Beardsley and it was a weird feeling, because I never thought I’d return and it brought back all those memories. I was taken with Menton, where the rich would holiday in the 1890s. It was overtaken by Nice, so it’s a bit forgotten, but it still has a genteel quality. I’m a sucker for church bells and crumbling squares.
Steven Moffat and I have found that going away to develop scripts works well for us. We visited Morocco twice while writing Sherlock and wrote Dracula in Lake Como. Italy is my favorite country and it was absolutely beautiful. Writing abroad may sound indulgent, but it’s a really good idea because everything’s concentrated; you’re fed and watered, and if you get stuck you go onto the balcony to look at the view, returning refreshed and inspired.
We shot some of Dracula in Slovakia, in the same castle that was used in Nosferatu. We’d been filming in the forest for about two hours when it started to snow. Being in the middle of a dense Slovakian forest with a coach, horses and Dracula was so atmospheric; the light bouncing off the snow was almost like moonlight.
Petite Case Noyale, Mauritius
The best holiday I ever had was to Malaysia during the three-week break of the first League of Gentlemen tour in 2000. It was a few years into my relationship with Ian, my partner. We stayed in a beach hut just yards from the sea. There were so many activities and every day we’d look at people waterskiing, but we did nothing apart from reading and sleeping.
I hate camping so when I go to places like Mauritius, I prefer to do it in luxury. We don’t have a flashy car or children, so we spend our money on holidays. The mantra I live by is the tagline from the end of the film My Own Private Idaho: “Whatever it takes to have a nice day”.
We often take winter holidays in Britain with our dog and I enjoy going to blustery places in February. We’ve hired cottages in the Cotswolds, Norfolk and Aldeburgh. When we’re somewhere like Whitstable, we’ll go for a long walk, looking forward to fish and chips in the pub afterwards.
Ian’s a huge Abba fan and we always talked about going to Stockholm, so a few years ago we went on a whim, and the randomness was appealing. Sweden was all I imagined it would be. We went around all the islands on a boat looking for Agnetha. The weather was glorious and it was culturally fascinating and restored our spirits – like the best European breaks do.
Mark Gatiss, 55, is an actor, writer and director. He lives in Islington, north London, with his partner di lui, Ian Hallard, 47. He is directing The Unfriend, a new play running until July 9 at Chichester Festival Theater. He also appears in the films The Road Dance and Operation Mincemeat, in cinemas now