1 9 5 3 (UK)
6 x 30 minute episodes
This prophetic science fiction thriller by Manx writer Nigel Kneale introduced Professor Bernard Quatermass (Reginald Tate), whose experimental rocket drifted off course and returned to Earth with two of the three-man crew having mysteriously disappeared.
Unfortunately, the surviving astronaut, Victor Caroon (Duncan Lamont), had an infection that slowly turned him into a vegetable monster (slightly more sinister than a rampaging radish).
The memorable production gripped the nation for six weeks on Saturday nights in 1953.
But the success of the series was due to more than Kneale’s script. The production and direction were pioneering, dispensing with the stagey theatricality of existing small-screen drama.
Broadcast live from tiny studios in West London, the performances can seem a little stagey to the modern eye, yet the ambition of the production cannot be faulted.
In one of the first examples of special effects on TV, Caroon’s alien look was achieved by covering a leather glove with bits of foliage and using a blown up still of Westminster Abbey as a background.
A sequel, Quatermass II (1955), targeted the phenomenon of new towns and shady government complexes that appeared overnight, and was preceded by a warning for “viewers of a nervous disposition”.
All three Quatermass serials were adapted for the big screen by Hammer Studios.
Professor Bernard Quatermass