Gunn was born in England. He grew up in the northeast and attended film school in Surrey. He began his career directing short films, for which he received several awards. Perhaps his most honoured film was his first, Half a Shave, a 1995 black comedy that won a Chicago International Film Festival Certificate of Merit and a regional accolade from the Royal Television Society.
At around the same time, he embarked upon a career in television direction, begun on Hollyoaks. His breakthrough on British television, however, would likely be considered his uncredited stint on the pilot for Green Wing. There, he developed the signature visual style of the programme, which went on to win a Pioneer Audience Award at the BAFTAs. His name did not begin to appear regularly in British television credits until 2007, when he took on episodes of Cape Wrath with David Morrissey and Felicity Jones; and Life on Mars with John Simm. In the run-up to his 2010 involvement with Doctor Who, he directed episodes of Survivors, with Paterson Joseph and Roger Lloyd Pack; Primeval; and the adaptation of the award-winning children's novel, Clay.
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