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18 June 2014
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Quatermass Britain's first sci-fi serial, The Quatermass Experiment brought fear to living rooms across Britain on its broadcast in 1953.

Written by Nigel Kneale and produced by Rudolph Cartier, The Quatermass Experiment consisted of six half-hour parts, broadcast live from Alexandra Palace. It told a story of the first manned rocket launch, carried out by Professor Quatermass' British Experimental Rocket Group.

While in space, contact with the three astronauts aboard the rocket is lost, and when it crash-lands in Wimbledon, only one astronaut, Vincent Caroon, is aboard. Taken to hospital in a disoriented state, he slowly transforms into a horrendous amalgam of man and plant. With all of human life threatened, Professor Quatermass must find a way to defeat the creature.

Only two episodes of the original Quatermass Experiment were recorded at the time, although a Hammer film version came out in 1955. Given a completely different ending, it was not a production much loved by Kneale.

Two further Quatermass series followed during the fifties, Quatermass II (1955), in which zombies infiltrate Earth and Quatermass and the Pit (1957), in which an alien spacecraft is discovered buried in London. Then there was a long gap until 1979, when a final series, simply called Quatermass, was shown, in which an alien power tries to harvest humanity.

Finally, The Quatermass Experiment has now been adapted into a two-hour drama, to be performed live as part of BBC Four's TV on Trial season. For more details, see our section on The Quatermass Experiment 2005.

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