A writer of distinction
As well as Quatermass, writer Nigel Kneale was responsible for many groundbreaking pieces of TV drama, including an adaptation of 1984 (1954), dramas The Year of the Sex Olympics (1968), The Stone Tape (1972) and surreal sitcom Kinvig (1981).
Kneale himself cameoed in The Quatermass Experiment - but you'd have no chance of recognising him as he, or rather his hands, were heavily made up as the monster.
"The appearance of the monster in Westminster Abbey was my two hands, stuck through a blow-up still of the interior of the Abbey, with my hands suitably dressed with gloves which I'd covered with a bit vegetation and leather until they didn't look like hands any more and became a single monster."
The Quatermass Experiment was originally called Bring Something Back. Which, of course, the astronauts did. Something extremely unpleasant.
The telerecording of episode two of The Quatermass Experiment at one point features a fly, buzzing around in front of the camera.
Up to the wire
Nigel Kneale hadn't actually written episodes five and six of The Quatermass Experiment at the time that episode one went out. "I wrote the remaining two while it was going out. So nobody really knew what the end was - even the production team, certainly not the actors, which made it more exciting I suppose."
Britain's first TV hero
Professor Quatermass, the irascible head of the British Experimental Rocket Group, has been played by numerous actors. Reginald Tate played him for the first series, but died shortly before transmission of the second series, and was hurriedly replaced by John Robinson. In Quatermass and the Pit he was played by Andre Morrell, and by Sir John Mills in a 1979 version. Brian Donlevy played him twice and Andrew Keir once for Hammer Films, and Jason Flemyng steps into his much-worn shoes for BBC Four's live broadcast of The Quatermass Experiment 2005
Live transmission: These shows were made and shown live, as was much television in the fifties. The Quatermass Experiment contained only a few filmed inserts, of London streets and the like. And sadly, although a film record of the series was attempted, the results were considered so bad that only two episodes were actually recorded.
A Complete Quatermass DVD box set is available from BBC Worldwide from 4 April. The set features the first two episodes of The Quatermass Experiment. The Restoration Team have painstakingly restored the series'. A feature on their work can be found on their website.