Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Quatermass Experiment (live TV play, 2005)

"It's good to have you back, Doctor!"

The above quote is rumoured to be an ad lib referring to the casting of David Tennant- playing Gordon Briscoe here- in a certain prominent television part.

Anyway... my regular readers (possibly a concept I've just invented, but there we go) may be aware that I've blogged the two extant episodes of 1953's The Quatermass Experiment. There's still a film based on the series to watch and blog, but in the meantime here's this live, abridged version from 2005 which is probably the closest we will ever get to what was sadly never recorded in 1953.

It's obvious from the start that the production had a budget of about 40p but that doesn't matter; the excitement of the fact it's live and the calibration of the cast just carries it along. Flemyng, for me, is competent but no more as Quatermass but Mark Gatiss is a revelation as Paterson while Adrian Bower is a long way from Teachers as the philosophical Jimmy Fullalove.

It's great to see the story continue and climax as Nigel Kneale intended, albeit at a faster pace. For once the message about humankind is not all that pessimistic; Kneale must have been feeling a bit cheery that day. But even this truncated adaptation puts across very well indeed the sheer quality of the script in terms of themes and character.

It's a nice touch that the climax should be in the Tate Modern rather than Westminster Abbey, although one thing that's hard to accept in 2005 is Quatermass' broadcast to the nature; scientists are not the authority figures they were. But this is nevertheless superb adaptation anchored by excellent performances.


  1. In fact, Gatiss actually was told privately by Tennant during rehearsals i.e. before the announcement was made that the latter had gotten the part.