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The Coming of the Crusties
on 26 April 2003
Quatermass (aka the Quatermass Conclusion aka Quatermass 4) always seems to be described as the weakest of the four Quatermass TV series according to the reference books. However, for the originality of its ideas it is almost up there with 'Quatermass & The Pit'.
Originally written in the late sixties but rejected by the BBC, many felt that the series was behind-the-times when showed on TV in the late seventies; after all, it was full of hippies, 'Planet People', young wasters who dreamt of mystical escape while society crumbled around them ...it was hardly Punk Rock. However, writer Nigel Kneale was of course ahead of the times (prediction is often part of Sf after all) and within a few years the hippie returned in the guise of the traveller/crusty, battling for access to stonehenge on the solstice...
The narrative sees Quatermass (played with gentle understatement by John Mills) struggling to understand what alien force is behind the blasts of white light that are eradicating the planet people as they converge on neolithic sites in their anti-intellectual escape from the increasingly dystopian cities of Britain...the answer is an astonishing one: but I'm not going to offer a spoiler here, you'll just have to watch the series.
The usual brilliant ideas Kneale offers are backed up by an excellent cast which includes an intense Simon McCorkindale (currently of Casualty fame)and (briefly and episodically) Toyah Wilcox.
One of the last great TV SF series of the 70s, 'Quatermass' was produced by ITV...if only the television bosses of today realised that intelligent, adult SF is waiting to return to our screens if only the producers would read some old books and remember that it's not all zap guns and spaceships, but ideas that count too...
If you love intelligent SF, you simply must see 'Quatermass'.