The Year of the Sex Olympics

The pioneering screenwriter Nigel Kneale, best known for the Quatermass TV serials and films that began in the 1950s, has died at the age of 84.

A disillusioned actor he turned to writing, winning the Somerset Maughm award for his short story Collection Tomato Cain in 1950.  Then he began writing plays for BBC radio and then television, becoming one of the first permanent staff drama writers. Then in 1953 he teamed up with Rudolph Cartier and Quatermass was born. It was "event television, emptying the streets and pubs for the six weeks of its duration".

Mr Kneale was an innovator and predicted modern trends in TV today,  The Year of the Sex Olympics, penned in 1968, imagined a future in which the public are subjugated by reality TV which places volunteers in a remote house and monitors their every move.  Sound familiar ?  Whilst the Stone Tape, 1972, concerns a group of electronic engineers who become fascinated by the supposed haunting of the historic house where they have set up their new research laboratory.  If you have sat through an episode of Most Haunted you may see its origins here.
He has been frequently sited by other authors, like Stephen King ,as a great influence. Perhaps this is borne out by the fact that unlike other sci-fi, which is showing its age, his programmes are still popular today. Quatermass and his adaptation of Nineteen Eighty Four ranked high in the 100 Greatest British TV programmes of all time compiled by the BFI  in 2000.

Why is this the case ? All I can say is that Quatermass and the Pit is one of my childhood memories of being behind the sofa, ranking alongside several Doctor Who episodes and the Menagerie episodes of Star Trek.

BBC Website story
Independent Obituary

Wikipedia Entry

written by Sue Abbott 


    Nick Roberts

    November 2, 2006

    I was also saddened by the news of Nigel Kneale’s death. His work has affected me throughout my life, not just with his ground-breaking sci-fi work but also his adaptations, in particular the Entertainer and The Woman in Black. But like Sue its the horrors that i’ll cherish. The ending of the Hammer Quatermass and the Pit is up there with other childhood scary memories such as the Horror of Fang Rock and the child tapping at the window in the Tobe Hooper version of Salem’s Lot.

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