Quatermass (1979)

Catch Quatermass (1979) on Talking Pictures this month

Posted Filed under

Talking Pictures gives you the chance to watch Quatermass (1979) this December

Quatermass sits astride the history of British media science fiction like a colossus. Nigel Kneale is rightly regarded as a genius and pioneer, and his classic science fiction shows were watched by everyone (if they had a TV!). In simple terms there are three eras to consider: the original BBC series, the Hammer film of Quatermass and the Pit, and the ITV show Quatermass (1979). It is this latter version we are now able to watch, or rewatch, thanks to Talking Pictures.

In many ways this version of Quatermass is the least immediate. Gone are the simple exploration of space and cold war sensibilities of the first two stories, or the inspired claustrophobia of Quatermass and the Pit. Instead we have an old man, searching for meaning in a bleak landscape very much reflecting the perceived social collapse of ’70s Britain. John Mills does his best (and it times brilliantly so) with the part as written, but it’s a confused cocktail of stone circles, science and the apocalypse. While Nigel Kneale’s other works such as The Stone Tapes explored the boundary between science and the supernatural to admirable effect, this story is less focussed. It does bear a rewatch, and cast includes Simon MacCorkindale, Barbara Kellerman (who had starred in 1990 some two years earlier) and Toyah Wilcox back before her music career took off.

The first episode is transmitted on Tuesday December 29 at 9 pm, with the remaining three being shown the following Tuesdays.