Peter Harness
Born1976 (age 44–45)
Hornsea, East Yorkshire, England
Alma materUniversity of Oxford
OccupationWriter, Producer, Actor
Years active2005–present
Known forDoctor Who
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Is Anybody There?

Peter Harness (born 1976) is an English playwright, screenwriter and actor.[1] He has contributed to programmes such as McMafia, City of Vice and Case Histories.

Early life

He grew up in Hornsea, East Yorkshire and attended Oriel College, Oxford where he studied English.[2] He is a former president of the Oxford Revue. He was one of Screen International's Stars of Tomorrow, 2007 and is a recipient of the Dennis Potter Screenwriting Award.[3][4]

Early works

Mongoose, his first original stage play, was performed at the Southwark Playhouse in 2003 (directed by Thea Sharrock) and later at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh and the Trafalgar Studios, London. The text is published by Nick Hern Books.

In 2005, he adapted the M.R. James short story "A View From A Hill" for BBC4. It was the first in a new annual series of BBC Ghost Stories for Christmas.[5] Harness went on to write several other single films for BBC4, including a biopic of Frankie Howerd, Rather You Than Me, starring David Walliams and Rafe Spall, which was part of the Curse of Comedy season, as well as the Spanish flu drama, The Forgotten Fallen, starring Bill Paterson, Mark Gatiss and Charlotte Riley, which dealt with the efforts of a medical team in Manchester to combat the disease in 1918.[6]


Harness was the lead writer of the third and fourth seasons of the BBC's Wallander, starring Kenneth Branagh.[4] He wrote all of season three, comprising three films: The Dogs of Riga, Before the Frost, and a new story developed by Henning Mankell and Harness called An Event in Autumn.[7] He wrote two out of three films for season four, A Lesson in Love and The Troubled Man, and was executive producer for the series as a whole.[8]

Aside from Wallander, Harness has worked on several other successful series. City of Vice, starring Ian McDiarmid and Iain Glen, was shown on Channel Four to critical acclaim.[9] Harness (along with co-writer Clive Bradley) was nominated for a Writers Guild of Great Britain Award for Best Series.[citation needed] In 2011, he adapted Kate Atkinson's novel When Will There Be Good News? as part of the BBC1 series Case Histories, starring Jason Isaacs as private detective Jackson Brodie.[10] Harness's episodes of the series won a Scottish BAFTA for Best Television Drama, 2011.[11] Harness also adapted the fourth Jackson Brodie book, Started Early, Took My Dog for the second series of Case Histories, which filmed in Summer 2012.[12]

His first original screenplay, Is Anybody There? was filmed by award-winning Irish director John Crowley in 2007. The movie, set in an old people's home, starred Michael Caine, David Morrissey, Anne-Marie Duff and Bill Milner. It was premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, 2008, and released theatrically across Europe and the US in 2009.[citation needed] Harness was nominated for a Writers Guild Award for the film.[13]

In November 2012 it was announced that he would adapt Susanna Clarke's novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell into a television series of the same name.[14]

In April 2014 it was announced that he would be writing the seventh episode for the eighth series of Doctor Who, starring Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor.[15] The episode is titled "Kill the Moon".[16]

On 8 May 2015, the BBC press office officially confirmed Harness would be writing a 2-part story titled "The Zygon Invasion" and "The Zygon Inversion" (the latter co-written with Steven Moffat) for the ninth series of Doctor Who. The story sees the return of UNIT, Jemma Redgrave, Ingrid Oliver and the Zygons. He also co-wrote the seventh episode of the tenth series with Steven Moffat, titled "The Pyramid at the End of the World".

In 2018, Harness wrote for the crime drama series McMafia, about the Russian Mafia. In 2019, he wrote a new miniseries adaptation of The War of the Worlds for BBC One, produced by Mammoth Screen.[17]

Other projects

He has also been active in the Malmö theatre community as part of the theatre group Teater Insite both as an actor and a writer.[18][19]


  1. ^ "Peter Harness". Internet Movie Data base., Inc. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  2. ^ "Matters of life and death inspire film debut – Features". Yorkshire Post. 16 February 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  3. ^ Dobson, Patricia (11 July 2007). "UK Stars of Tomorrow 2007 | News | Screen". Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Peter Harness". Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  5. ^ "Four – Best Of". BBC. 1 January 1970. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Drama – Frankie Howerd: Rather You Than Me". BBC. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  7. ^ "Klart för mer brittisk Wallander – Nyheter P4 Malmöhus". 4 August 2011. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Nancy Banks-Smith (15 January 2008). "Last night's TV: The Palace | Media". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Case Histories (BBC1 2011 with Jason Isaacs, Amanda Abbington, Millie Innes)". Memorable TV. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  11. ^ "British Academy Scotland Awards Winners in 2011 – Awards – Scotland – The BAFTA site". Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  12. ^ Dowell, Ben (12 October 2011). "BBC1's Case Histories to return | News | Broadcast". Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  13. ^ "Six up for Writers Guild Awards 2009". 4 November 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Two New Writers for Series 8". Doctor Who TV. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  16. ^ "New Series: All the Episode Titles and More". BBC. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Nedstigning i Pinterland – Kultur & Nöjen – Sydsvenskan-Nyheter Dygnet Runt". 14 June 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  19. ^ Tweet Theresa Benér (11 June 2012). "Recension: Ett långt stycke liv – Teater Insite, Malmö (Teater) | Scen | SvD" (in Swedish). Retrieved 5 July 2012.