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The Quatermass Experiment

1953

TV: The Quatermass Experiment

Creator: Nigel Kneale

Recollections...

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1953 at the age of nine.
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In Depth

The Quatermass Experiment

A failed rocket mission brings terror to 1950s living rooms.

This landmark production had an immeasurable influence on British television science fiction. Amazingly, however, it didn't find favour with the critics of the day.

The real judges were the public who tuned in in record-breaking numbers each week to be scared half to death as ill-fated astronaut Victor Carroon mutated into something decidedly nasty.

This was the era of early manned flights into space. Writer Nigel Kneale brilliantly exploited a public fear that some nasty germ (or worse) might be picked up in space and brought back to Earth in this grisly tale. British government rocket scientist Quatermass (Reginald Tate) sends a man to the stars who returns contaminated and then slowly transforms into a walking vegetable patch with attitude.

Made on a shoestring budget and with no effects department, the climactic giant "gunge" monster was actually both made and performed by Kneale himself on live television!

A highly successful movie version quickly followed, made by Hammer. A 90-minute remake, starring Jason Flemyng and David Tennant, was broadcast live on BBC Four in 2005.

Work nominated by knight-gkla.

Text © Radio Times/BBC Worldwide

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