Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Quatermass Reboot

I was watching the most recent Quatermass adaptation again this week, the BBC4 dramatisation that was broadcast live in 2005, and got to thinking about the potential future of Prof Bernard Quatermass.

Well it turns out the newly invigorated Hammer have also been thinking along these lines and have some plans to reboot Quatermass on film in the near future. This from Simon Oakes, the production companies president;

"We are developing Quatermass at the moment. Completely contemporary, but rooted in his character. If you look at the BBC's Sherlock it's got enough DNA there, so you could bring him forward and say this is what Bernard Quatermass would be like today. So he'd still be gruff, an outsider, contrary, fighting authority, but what would he be doing today? He wouldn't be doing the Rocket Group because the world has moved on since the 1950s. We're going to be announcing something about that soon."

To be honest as exciting as new Quatermass sounds I do think Hammer would be missing a trick to completely update him and excise the British Rocket Group. As the BBC4 adaptation showed there can be something anachronistically pleasing about setting it in a netherworld, a potential alt reality, where it is absolutely contemporary but with some 1950s touches still obvious. Indeed Mark Gatiss, a self confessed Nigel Kneale scholar who played  Paterson in the remake, favoured the alt reality notion, citing that he approached it as an England in which Mosley's fascists may have succeeded in power.

But all that aside, who could play Quatermass now? Whoever would be selected would certainly be in illustrious company...

Reginald Tate, the original; 
The Quatermass Experiment, BBC

John Robinson, who stepped in following Tate's fatal heart attack;
Quatermass 2, BBC

Brian Donlevy, the American whom Kneale despised, from the Hammer films; 
The Quatermass Xperiment and Quatermass 2

Andre Morell, whom many would claim the definitive;
Quatermass and the Pit, BBC 

Andrew Keir, Hammer finally getting it right;
Quatermass and the Pit

John Mills as an ageing Quatermass;
Quatermass, Thames TV

Jason Flemyng, the most recent;
The Quatermass Experiment, BBC4

I worry if they'll update him too much, perhaps aiming for - like Danny Boyle's Sunshine - a scientific hero inspired by Prof Brian Cox, in much the same way that Kneale named him Bernard in honour of the scientific man of his day, Sir Bernard Lovell. For me that would be a slight miss-step as Quatermass shouldn't be a hipster or indeed all that young. And certainly not American again! For my money there's one actor around who could really nail the part, tapping into all the characteristics the previous actors have brought to the role, including Keir's gruff bearded Scottish manner, and that's Iain Glen, pictured here in Game Of Thrones ...

Are you listening Hammer? ;)


  1. Never saw the BBC4 reboot.

    Thought the collapsed Britain (and wider world) in the John Mills story was very good. The novelisation brings out more of the back-story, a very smart extrapolation of trends at the time of conception/writing.

  2. I actually read the novel before seeing the TV version, which I think helped greatly. It's a very good book and as you say it fleshes it out more. I must have read it in the early 90s as an admittedly rather precocious (haha) young teen. Got it from Sutton Library! It would be about 10 yrs before I saw it on video or dvd

  3. Jesus -there was a library in Sutton??

    1. Haha, there was indeed. Opposite All Saints Church and around the corner from Sutton National Infants and Juniors school, Goodban Street. It was finally closed down about '98 (I did my school work experience there in '96) and was a listed building with 100 yrs history but the council decided to take the roof off in the middle of the night - allegedly, as they say on Have I Got News For You - let the rain in, slapped a health and safety danger notice on the place and had it knocked down to make way for postage stamp size houses.