5 Minutes with Duncan Gates

Writer of Fetch for our Halloween Tales production, Duncan Gates, answers our (very challenging) questions.

Duncan Gates, writer of Fetch
Duncan Gates, writer of Fetch

What gave you the idea to write Fetch?

A segment on a BBC late-90s midweek evening show called ‘Mysteries with Carol Vorderman’, where a security guard reported having met himself at night . It had no other incident or closure and I’ve always wondered why anyone would make that up. That and a story in late-80s kids TV series Dramarama called ‘Back to Front’, where a kid gets a magic mirror and horror ensues…

Besides Fetch, what’s the piece you’ve written that you’re most proud of?

Right now it’s probably a Chekhovian sci-fi called Blue Dot – it made an audience member gasp at Martian racism.

Why did you decide to pick the M.R. James story (The Wailing Well) that you’re reading for Halloween Tales?

via jameslecky.blogspot.com
Picture of the man himself, M.R. James, via jameslecky.blogspot.com

It’s got a terrific range of tone, starting with Kenneth Grahame bucolic japes and ending on a Stephen King level of discomfort. It was also written for an actual scout group about the place where they used to camp – know your audience!

What’s the best play/show/concert you’ve ever been to?

It’s still Unlimited Theatre’s 2002 show ‘Neutrino’, because that actually changed my life artistically.

What’s your favourite horror movie?

Ring – 85 minutes of baffling unease, one massive long-form scare. Job done.

What scares you silly?

I have odd recurring mental images of being hit by vehicles at high speed. It’s either happened to me in a previous life or it will happen in the future. I don’t know which. That scares me. That and ‘Back to Front’.

Have you ever had a spooky experience?

I’ve heard a radio turn itself on; had something incorporeal fly through my head into a wall; been woken up by a whistling noise that made me feel sick and then stopped; had something touch my hand in the Edinburgh caverns. So yes, a few.

You’re going to a Halloween Party, what are you dressing up as?

I have previously gone to a Hallowe’en party dressed as the desert.

Not a lot of people know that…

An ancestor of mine was a champion penny-farthing-racer.

What’s your guilty pleasure?


What really grinds your gears?

People making art about things they aren’t interested in.

Come to see Fetch 30th and 31st Oct and 1st Nov and see Duncan read ‘The Wailing Well’ on ACTUAL HALLOWEEN. Tickets available now.

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