{{Infobox Television | bgcolour = #D0BC9B

The Quatermass Experiment was a 2005 live remake of the 1953 TV series of the same name by Nigel Kneale.


The remake was commissioned as part of a "TV on Trial" season being run by the channel, examining past television trends and productions.[1] Although it was scheduled in a two-hour slot, the production finished after one hour and forty minutes — underrunning its allotted time, whereas most of the original episodes had overrun. This was expected before transmission, however, after timings had been made at the dress rehearsal, and the increased pace was attributed to the nervousness involved in a live performance.[2]

Adapted from the original scripts by executive producer Richard Fell, the new broadcast was directed by Sam Miller. Kneale acted as a consultant, and Fell and producer Alison Willett had several meetings with the writer at his London home to discuss the script.[1] Science writer and film maker Christopher Riley also acted as an advisor on the project, helping to bring the science references in the script up to date. Although Miller controlled the production's artistic direction, experienced outside broadcast director Trevor Hampton assisted him in controlling the technical aspects of the live production, which was broadcast from the QinetiQ (ex-Ministry of Defence) Longcross Test Track site in Surrey.[1] The story was structurally very close to the original, although set in a slightly distorted version of the present day. The climax was moved from Westminster Abbey to the Tate Modern, as the latter was easier to replicate in studio, and there was no visible monster.[2]

Actor Jason Flemyng was cast as Quatermass, with long-time Kneale admirer Mark Gatiss as Paterson, Andrew Tiernan as Carroon, Indira Varma as his wife Judith, David Tennant as Briscoe, Adrian Bower as Fullalove and Adrian Dunbar as Lomax—now a Ministry of Defence official rather than a policeman.[1] Isla Blair was cast as Home Secretary Margaret Blaker, a combination of parts of Lomax's character and two officials from the original serial, and she brought to rehearsals a photograph of her husband Julian Glover on the set of the 1967 film version of Quatermass and the Pit.[1] Blair stated that she was delighted to be joining "the Quatermass club".[2]

Original 1953 cast member Moray Watson—who had played Marsh, one of Quatermass's colleagues—visited the set during rehearsals. The 76-year-old was invited to make a cameo appearance in the live broadcast, but was not available that evening.[1] It was during the rehearsals for The Quatermass Experiment that David Tennant was offered the role of the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who. This casting was not announced to the public until later in April, but his fellow castmembers, and crew, became aware of the speculation surrounding Tennant; in the live broadcast Jason Flemyng changed Quatermass's first line to Tennant's Dr Briscoe from "Good to have you back Gordon" to "Good to have you back Doctor" as a deliberate reference.[2]


The Quatermass Experiment' is a classic science fiction serial drama created for the BBC

by Nigel Kneale, and first broadcast (live to air) in 1953. In 2005, the BBC produced a new and updated version,and again broadcast live to air, on BBC Four on 2 April 2005. The plot was basically the same, but updated to put it in a modern context, such as references to terrorism. The only major change is that the final confrontation occurs in the Tate Modern rather than Westminister Abbey. This version stars Jason Flemyng as Professor Quatermass,David Tennant as Dr Gordon Briscoe, Mark Gatiss as Quatermass's colleague, John Paterson, and Indira Varma as Victor's wife Judith, who is having an affair with Briscoe. A contemporary adaptation of Nigel Kneale's seminal 1953 science fiction serial. The British Experimental Rocket Group launches a manned space ship and Professor Bernard Quatermass and his collegues track the rocket's journey. All contact is lost and the rocket crash lands leaving the only survivor with a debilitating illness.The plot centres on Britain's first privately financed manned space rocket, which was launched by the British Experimental Rocket Group, headed by Professor Bernard Quatermass. When the rocket returns to Earth, only one of the three astronauts - Victor Carroon - is inside. However, he has been changed by the experience, and not just psychologically. Quatermass and his team discover that Carroon can suddenly speak German, when he couldn't before, while one of the missing astronauts was German. It transpires that Carroon has been infected by an alien organism, and has become a gestalt entity with the memories of all three astronauts. Carroon is rapidly evolving into something that is not human; Quatermass and his team must find a way to stop the transformation before the hybrid creature kills all life on Earth. Carroon escapes from quarantine and attacks a pharmacist,consuming a cocktail of chemicals that would kill a normal human. However, Dr Gordon Briscoe deduces that Carroon is using the chemical as a catalyst to accelerate his transformation. The final scene sees Quatermass appeal to the human part of Carroon that still remains, in a last desperate bid to save the world.

This is a very well made and groundbreaking live adaption of the now classic Quatermass Experiment. Movie actor Jason flemyng stars as a very youthful professor Quatermass previously played by middle aged actors. Due to the production being made live there are some limitations with the locations and filming. And some of the action and diologue is on occasion miss-timed and limited in scope which also limits the special effects. This relies more on what you don't see and the tension of the unseen monster stalking London. There are some overtones of the 50's with fashion and hair styles which looks very odd indeed as it's set in the present day. New Doctor Who David Tennant puts in a good performance as a scientist but doesn't get many lines. Of the Dvd there are some extras with interviews from the cast and writers that's a nice touch.


Broadcast and receptionEdit

The production was the BBC's first live made-for-television drama broadcast in over twenty years.[1] The broadcast suffered only a few errors, with some fluffed lines, several on- and off-camera stumbles, background sounds occasionally obscuring the dialogue, and, at the programme's end, a cameraman and sound man appearing in the shot.[1] As the end credits rolled, the cameras showed actors celebrating and congratulating each other; they did not know that they were still on air.[2] However, this could be interpreted as the characters celebrating their survival at the end of their ordeal.[2] On two occasions near the middle of the broadcast a large on-screen graphic was overlaid, advising viewers that a major news story—the death of Pope John Paul II—was being covered on BBC News 24.[2]

Drawing an average audience of 482,000, The Quatermass Experiment became BBC Four's second-highest-rated programme of all time, behind The Alan Clark Diaries.[3] Critic Nancy Banks-Smith in The Guardian complimented the production, and noted that "there were minor bumps in this production. One actor dried ... Another made a crashing exit through piles of broken glass left by the monster ... The last scene is still gripping ... I always said Nigel Kneale was a prophet."[4] She also commented that, for Tennant, "This was a useful dummy run for ... Doctor Who, playing a doctor confronted with a man-eating vegetable." In The Times, Sarah Vine wrote that The Quatermass Experiment, "despite not always succeeding dramatically, did however serve as a reminder of how a clever story, a good script and some decent acting can be just as effective as millions of pounds worth of special effects".[5] Texas Monthly magazine commented it "is an interesting British experience from across the pond...highly gripping and worth a watch." [6]

Other mediaEdit

The production was released on DVD in October 2005 by DD Home Entertainment, with an audio commentary and other extra features.[7] It has also been repeated on BBC Four on several occasions.


External links Edit


Template:BBC Sci-fi

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