Professor Quatermass –
Judith Caroon –
Victor Caroon –
John Paterson –
James Fullalove –
Gordon Briscoe -
Detective Lomax –
OTHER SINGLE DRAMAS
A For Andromeda
The Flipside of Dominick Hyde
THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT - First Transmitted 2 April 2005
A spaceship sent into orbit by the British Experimental Rocket Group goes horribly out of control and loops over half a million miles out into space. All contact is lost. When the ship returns to Earth only one of the three astronauts remains alive, the other two having apparently disappeared. The project head, Professor Quatermass, tries to piece together what happened, but the survivor can't speak and most of what the investigation doesn't make sense. Then the astronaut goes on the run and it becomes clear that the whole future of mankind is at risk.
Nigel Kneale's classic 1953 serial was reduced down to a 100 minute storyline by Richard Fell and performed live on the BBC's satellite channel BBC 4. Despite the condensing of the story, the main heart of the story is kept intact and the sheer power of Kneale's original plotting and intent remain potent even so long after it was first written. Some of the dialogue does now seem a little bit clunky, especially where the journalists are concerned, but on the whole the updating of the scripts is done pretty well, using current concerns about terrorism and advances in biological and genetic science to make the story more, rather than less, relevant.
The resources behind the remake are obviously rather limited. The whole production takes place on a few indoor and outdoor sets and only the central laboratory where the astronaut is studied looks even remotely like a cutting edge facility. The main mission control room has two computer screens and a phone and that's about it, but then Kneale's shows were never about the trappings, but rather about the ideas and they are as strong and vibrant as ever.
And the cast that the production had is something quite special as well. Jason Flemyng was later to take over PRIMEVAL in its third season, Mark Gatiss went on to write and appear in CROOKED HOUSE and CLONE whilst David Tennant went on to become everyone's favourite Time Lord in DOCTOR WHO. Adrian Dunbar also stars as the MOD investigator. All of the cast do extremely well considering that the story was being filmed live and special mention goes to Jason Flemyng who makes for a Quatermass that stands up against any of his predecessors.
One big failure, however, is in the ending. The inability of the production to be able to afford credible makeup effects for the transforming astronaut or a monster for the big climax means that the final scenes are robbed of some of their potential for drama, being reduced to one man begging three others to simply 'resist'.
A few awkward scenes and occasional lesser performance, are not enough to spoil things and, though the cast do spend a lot of time standing around talking to each, this is a creditable retelling of the tale that doesn't suffer too much from the constrictions of its gimmick of being a live performance.
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