Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Quatermass Memoirs

Nigel Kneale
(BBC Audio)

First broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 1996, this is a mix of original TV soundtrack and drama-documentary, in which Nigel Kneale reflects on the 1950s fearful atmosphere in which he wrote the classic 'Quatermass' TV serials. The programme mixes the factual story with a dramatic narrative, in which the now-retired Professor Quatermass (played by Andrew Keir) reluctantly recounts his past exploits to a female journalist. This in turn is interweaved with soundtrack footage from the Quatermass TV dramas.

What a strange little artifact this turned out to be. I’m really not sure what it’s meant to be; part documentary, part drama, part reminiscence / retrospection. Throughout the two discs Nigel Kneale talks about the influences on each of the Quatermass TV series and attempts – rather clumsily – to put each into a socio-political context. Interspersed with this is an odd little dramatisation featuring Andrew Keir reprising his portrayal of the now aged, retired and even crankier Quatermass who is ‘pushed’ into reminiscence of the events of his past by a young researcher turning up at his door.

It was a pleasure to hear Keir and the Kneale sections were diverting enough in their way but on the whole this was a bit of a non event. The attempt at the very end to bring in a set-up for the world of the 1979 TV series was a nice little conceit but, much like the rest of it, rather clumsily done.

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