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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth buying to fill in those Quatermass gaps, 6 Oct 2008
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Cartimand (Hampshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Quatermass Memoirs (Classic Radio Sci-Fi) (Audio CD)
**** slight spoilers ****

I bought this double audio CD set, based partly on the strength of the other reviews and, having thoroughly enjoyed the Quatermass Collection DVD box set (check out my review), I felt fairly sure I would enjoy this as well.

Well, now a day after listening to the entire story I certainly do feel I have gained a few more insights into Kneale's splendid creation and yet, I have to admit that the Quatermass Memoirs didn't quite live up to my expectations.

Firstly, the motif of using a feisty woman reporter as the sounding board for Quatermass to tell his tale felt a tad contrived. `Mandy' succeeds where others have failed in getting the retired, reclusive and initially downright grumpy Quatermass to elucidate on the historical and political context behind his main adventures and to bare his soul regarding his personal sentiments at the time. My struggle to suspend my disbelief wasn't helped by the fact that, whilst Andrew Keir puts in a sterling performance, bringing authentic gravitas to the role of the venerable professor, the actress playing Mandy fails to convince at times. Some of Mandy's dialog feels very stilted (admittedly that's no fault of the actress) and I was painfully aware that she was merely reading a script at several points during the story.

Next, it has to be said that there isn't a huge amount of new material here. The running time of the two CDs is a second or two under 90 minutes, but that includes several unnecessary repetitions of the Quatermass theme (`Mars' from Holst's Planet Suite). Surely once at the beginning and once at the end would have sufficed? The occasional interruptions by the housekeeper are also probably superfluous, but do at least add a cosy element of domesticity that contrasts effectively with the horrors Quatermass is compelled to recall. His memories of the three main adventures are fleshed out with extensive and yet occasionally unsatisfying extracts from all three original BBC series. The flashbacks have been carefully edited to exclude any of Quatermass' dialogue, because four different actors' voices on this CD would apparently confuse the listener no end! I can understand the logic behind this, but, in reality, it makes the flashbacks feel rather lightweight.

On the positive side, the newsreel audio about the atomic bomb tests was chillingly evocative and, along with the sputnik and Hungarian uprising references, puts the early Quatermass plot development into very clear context. I also very much enjoyed the parting shot of how London was rapidly becoming a dystopian nightmare, thus linking effectively into the John Mills Quatermass series (remember Huffity Puffity Ringstone Round?).

To summarise, as a companion piece to the Quatermass collection, this CD works adequately well and should not disappoint you. Watch the DVDs first though and think of this as a "Everything you always wanted to know about Quatermass (but were afraid to ask)". In this respect it probably just about deserves 4 stars. Anyone expecting a genuine new adventure, however, may feel slightly short-changed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Look Back At Television History, 25 Nov 2007
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E. A. Redfearn "eredfearn2" (Middlesbrough) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Quatermass Memoirs (Classic Radio Sci-Fi) (Audio CD)
I rather enjoyed this look back at one of the heroes of the 1950s, Quatermass who on a number of occasions saved the world from Alien Invasions. These classic television series are of course available on DVD, although only two episodes of The Quatermass Experiment (broadcast in 1953) survived. The Radio Programme broadcast in 1996 is a look back with fond memories by Nigel Kneale himself, with Andrew Keir (who played Quatermass in the Hammer Film Version made in 1967)providing the voice of the Professor who tells the various stories behind the legend. Various clips from the original series can be heard throughout, enhanced by the music of Gustav Holst (Mars, God of War from The Planets Suite). For some reason though, none of the original music used during Quatermass and The Pit (some of which still sounds quite eerie even today) can be heard which is a shame. Still, I am sure many oldies who watched the original transmissions during the 1950s will enjoy this double CD and bring back some haunting memories. Yes, I am sure many of them dived behind the sofa, even then! Good sound by the way. A very good buy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Grand Old Man of British TV science fiction speaks out, 14 Oct 2009
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Quatermass Memoirs (Classic Radio Sci-Fi) (Audio CD)
For decades, the original Quatermass TV stories were almost a legend - the stories lived on second hand through the three Hammer films, but the shows themselves remained tantalizingly out of reach. Occasionally a brief extract would turn up in a documentary, yet the surviving episodes would remain locked up in the BBC's vaults except for a rare screening at the NFT. Quatermass and the Pit did escape onto video and later DVD, but before the BBC finally released them on DVD, this 1995 radio series was the most exposure the first two stories had had in decades.

It's an intriguing presentation: a five-part radio series, part drama, part documentary, alternating between writer Nigel Kneale's reflections on the stories and the times they were written in with the retired, guilt-ridden and still angry Professor Quatermass being interviewed by a biographer about his memories of his three nightmarish and world-threatening encounters with the unknown, told in part through extracts from the soundtracks of the original BBC TV shows. For once the imitations of the radio medium aren't too intrusive, the biographer format allowing events to be concisely summarised and the more visual sections of the stories to be explained without seeming too awkward. The stories may be drastically condensed, but they're still intriguing and well thought-through, and it benefits no end from the casting of Andrew Keir. Although he never appeared in any of the TV serials and only one of the films (the superb Quatermass and the Pit, which boasts more great ideas than most of the 40 years of scifi films that followed it combined), he was Kneale's favorite interpreter, and he slips back into the role so effortlessly it's as if it were recorded only days after the film finished shooting.

But the best aspect of the series and what makes it invaluable for fans is the input from Kneale himself. To the writer, "Quatermass was what I imagined a scientist should be - a man with a sense of awe at the sheer magnitude of what he might discover." He articulately puts the period the stories were written into context: for him it was not a period of paranoia because there was much to be genuinely afraid of with the proliferation of nuclear weapons and conflicts in South-East Asia that could turn into Armageddon. Extracts from BBC's news archives of Korean War, Britain's first atomic bomb test, civil defence training, the crushing of the Hungarian uprising, the news of Sputnik and other major events of the day enhance the power and significance of the stories, giving a real sense of why they caught the public's imagination so strongly in the 1950s. Unfortunately the fourth and final Quatermass story, originally written for the BBC but belatedly produced for ITV, is absent (presumably for contractual reasons), though it is alluded to in the story's coda, so we're deprived of his thoughts on that, but this is still an excellent primer for the Quatermass enthusiast and a worthwhile purchase even if you own the TV shows on DVD.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good insight into the mind of Nigel Kneale and the 1950s, 12 Jan 2010
This review is from: The Quatermass Memoirs (Classic Radio Sci-Fi) (Audio CD)
'Quatermass and the Pit' is one of the defining TV shows of the 1950s. I absolutely love the 1967 Hammer movie and once looked to view the TV programme from which it was born as some poor cousin, but no - it is an astounding piece of television, intelligent and scary and brilliant even by 2010 perspective.
Having bought this just before Christmas, and with a thirst for more Quatermass, it must have been inevitable to purchase 'The Quatermass Memoirs' - originally a 5-part BBC radio programme series from 1996.
I also highly recommended this as Nigel Kneale (the creator and author of Quatermass) makes erudite comment on how he developed the three 1950s stories against the backdrop of a volatile world in the wake of world war two and the atomic age.
With Andrew Keir (the Pit movie Quatermass) reprising his role with real relish, the two disc set is well worth listening to a few times, and digging out from year to year. If you are a Quatermass fan, you won't be disappointed in purchasing this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating glimpse at TV history, 27 April 2011
By 
J. Skade "joeskade" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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The three Quatermass series are rightfully acknowledged as milestones, not only of Science Fiction, but of intelligent televisual drama in general. This audiobook is a facinating look at those pieces of broadcast history. The narrative has three strands - Nigel Kneale talking about the creation of Quatermass, setting it firmly in historical context; a linking drama involving a female journalist interviewing Quatermass, and judiciously chosen clips from the original programs.
For myself the mix does not quite come off. The original stories are presented in somewhat perfunctory manner, losing much in atmosphere and suspense. The Nigel Kneale sequences are much more satisfactory and I was left wishing there were more of these. I could have listened to his thoughts on how the scripts linked to the political climate of the time for much longer and I would like to have given more of an insight into the creative process.
Despite reservations, I would recommend this to any prospective buyer, providing they knew what to expect. This will not have you on the edge of your seat but it should provide a suitably engrossing listen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Memories!, 7 July 2010
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This review is from: The Quatermass Memoirs (Classic Radio Sci-Fi) (Audio CD)
I had never heard of this radio series until very recently, and was intrigued as to what it would be like...
Although I had seen the BBC video release of Quatermass and the Pit a few years ago and last year saw the truncated movie version of Quatermass 4 for the first time, I have only recently become more interested in this groundbreaking Sci-Fi TV series and the excellent Hammer movie versions.
Andrew Kier was the best Hammer Quatermass (in 1967's Quatermass and the Pit) and it was interesting to hear how he falls effortlessly back into the role after nearly 30 years! But the most interesting element was the juxtaposition of creator Nigel Kneale's commentary, news reports from the 1950's and the 'play' itself involving the interview by a young female reporter of an aged Professor Quatermass just prior to the events of Quatermass 4.
Everything fitted in perfectly, Kneale's revelations regarding character and story-telling, not to mention the post WW2 paranoia surrounding the 1950's and early 1960's.
We get a chance to see the real Quatermass here, a man wresltling with his memories and failing to come to terms with the events in his past...
The rousing strains of 'Mars' from the Planets Suite add to the atmosphere and in many respects Kneale is able to 'round off' his creation after so many years...
I would strongly recommend this CD set to any Quatermass fan as it makes an ideal companion to the Quatermass DVDs also available.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting backdrop to the original BBC series, 9 Nov 2008
By 
Tony Jones "Tony" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Quatermass Memoirs (Classic Radio Sci-Fi) (Audio CD)
This 2 CD set is presented as layered narrative, the central narrative is the exchange between a retired Quatermass living in Scotland who has been chased down by a reported writing his biography. This device works well in getting him to recall sections of the original three BBC stories which are reproduced from the original broadcasts and gets him to give more insight into his thinkings during the adventures. Careful editing gets over the fact of different actors playing the professor.

Over the top of all this we get pieces of Nigel Kneale giving his view of the external context that drove him to write the original stories the way he did. This is the most interesting to someone like me who was too young to have watched the broadcasts but heard of them from people around at the time. These pieces are not well signposted and you have to let go of the more dramatic layers when he comes in during the story.

Overall this is interesting, though I am not sure how soon I would listen to it again, hence the four stars.
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The Quatermass Memoirs (Classic Radio Sci-Fi)
The Quatermass Memoirs (Classic Radio Sci-Fi) by Nigel Kneale (Audio CD - 3 July 2006)
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