A CELEBRATED County Durham actor and writer has returned to his roots for a night of fundraising.

Mark Gatiss, whose credits include Doctor Who, Dad's Army, Sherlock and The League of Gentleman, appeared at Darlington Civic Theatre on Saturday to raise money for a memorial at Darlington Police Station.

The memorial will honour police officers who have died, including Mr Gatiss' brother-in-law, Detective Sergeant Dave Storey.

The officer retired from Darlington CID on March 18 last year aged 53, but died a week later following a stroke.

Mr Gatiss, who was born in Sedgefield, said: “This is the first stage I ever performed on when I was seven on a theatre trip from Heighington Primary School.

“I suppose if this was a film, it would start with me singing The Great Fire of London on that stage when I was seven and then end with me tonight doing this.

"It’s quite a nice narrative and I hope there’s some more to come - the film doesn’t end there.”

An Evening with Mark Gatiss was compered by Northern Echo editor Peter Barron Members of the audience were able to ask the actor questions.

These included "what was his favourite Doctor Who episode?" and "did he have any tips on how to get into sketch comedy?"

The memorial will cost around £20,000, half of which has already been raised.

It will be made by Darlington stonemason David France.

Mr Gatiss said it had been an evening of mixed emotions.

"My brother-in-law was a wonderful man and if you believe that only the good die young then that’s true of David.”

During the interview, the actor scotched media speculation that the fourth series of Sherlock, which he co-writes, has been delayed by the BBC.

"It's all rubbish," he said.

"The truth is that it's happening. I'm writing it now. I'm a bit stuck with the storyline but I'm working my way through it.

"It's no exaggeration to say that Sherlock has changed my life. The impact of it has been astonishing."

He said he was also looking forward to the film version of Dad's Army coming out in February.

The performer plays Captain Mainwaring's colonel and described it as "a great relief" that he wasn't recreating one of the familiar characters.

"The original was loved so much that of course it's tricky but I hope it's well received," he said, adding that he'd recently been asked to consider working on a recreation of "Are You Being Served".