Quatermass Connection

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Before Doctor Who:

QUATERMASS - THE CANADIAN CONNECTION

BBC DVD set

Only the first two episodes of Nigel Kneale's seminal 6-part SF serial The Quatermass Experiment exist. Both were film-recorded during the live transmissions in July 1953, but for reasons that are not exactly clear, any plans to have the remaining four instalments recorded were abandoned.

In his account of the work that went into creating the DVD release, Steve Roberts has this to say on the Restoration Team's website:

"For many years, there have been a number of theories put forward to try to explain why only the first two episodes of the show still exist. […] Canadian TV listings appear to indicate that the first two episodes had been scheduled for transmission in Canada, although it is unlikely that the transmissions actually took place. Records on INFAX, the BBC Archives database, indicate that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation hold copies of the first two episodes as 16mm reduction prints, adding further weight to this story."
"The interesting question is... why was the serial was even being recorded in the first place? […] Was it being recorded for Canadian TV and did somebody call a halt after the second episode when it became clear that the technical quality had dropped sharply - and that there was a fly sitting bang in the middle of the screen for much of the episode? We will probably never know the complete answer... but all the evidence sadly seems to suggest that recording was stopped after episode two."
  • The full article on the restoration for the DVD can be read HERE


Little is known about the potential sale to Canada. We thought we'd investigate and see what we could find out about the series in the Canadian newspapers.


Quatermass and the Press

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) went to air for the first time on 6 September 1952. This was from the Montreal-based station CBFT (Channel 2), which broadcast a mixture of programmes in either English or French.

Two days later, on 8 September 1952, the Toronto station CBLT (Channel 9) was launched. To begin with, programming was shared between CBFT and CBLT by way of kinescope film-recordings.

A 340-mile long microwave relay system connecting these two with the newly-established station in Ottawa was completed eight months later, in May 1953.

A month later, Ottawa station CBOT (Channel 4) went to air for the first time on 2 June 1953. CBOT also offered programming in both English and French.

With all three stations linked by microwave relay, all programming was transmitted out of CBLT Toronto.

Television did not reach the western provinces until later. To find out about Quatermass in Canada, we only needed to look for listings in publications from Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, and towns within those broadcast areas.


CBC TIMES

Introduction to "Quartermass" [sic]; CBC Times, 17 July 1953 (with listings for 26 July to 1 August)
The three station listings for "Quartermass", Friday 31 July 1953; CBC Times, 17 July 1953

Our first port of call was the CBC Times Eastern edition, which was published weekly in Toronto every Friday.

Each issue gave full radio and television schedules of the programmes screening the week nine days hence - and that it came out that far in advance turned out to be a key discovery.

(Although the Eastern edition doesn't have a 'published on' date on the cover or inside, the Prairie Region edition (issued in Winnipeg, Manitoba) does, so the publish-date for the Prairie editions would be the same for the Eastern edition.)

It was in the Eastern issue that was published on Friday 17 July 1965 containing the TV schedules for 26 July to 1 August that Quatermass made its first appearance… Or at least, its near-equivalent does…

On page 3, there was a small preview of the new series:

"Space Command's" Successor
Although the TV program Space Command made its final appearance for the summer on Friday, July 17th, the science fiction theme will be continued, according to CBLT chief producer Mavor Moore. A special film feature dealing with space science has been selected for telecasting at the same time (Friday, 7.30 p.m.). It’s a new science-fiction program entitled The Quartermass Experiment [sic].
The new programme was originally produced and telecast by the television service of the BBC. Briefly, the story concerns an attempt to send a manned rocket beyond the atmosphere of the earth.


This was followed by a short two-paragraph plot summary. Of note, the preview refers to the title and lead character as "QuaRtermass". And this spelling oddity occurs several times over in the coming weeks, as we shall see. (It also made OCR searches very easy!) Also of interest is the statement that the new program "was originally produced and telecast" by the BBC - when in fact, by the time the magazine was published no episodes of the serial had even aired in the UK!

The Times TV schedules appear over several pages, one for each day, and each page has three sets of listings, one for each station. In the 17 July Times under Friday, July 31 is:


CBLT TORONTO--CHANNEL 9
7.30--Quartermass Experiment--BBC
A program by Nigel Kneale dealing with space-travel


CBFT MONTREAL--CHANNEL 2
7.30--Quartermass Experiment--BBC
(English) Direct from Toronto


CBOT OTTAWA--CHANNEL 4
7.30--Quartermass Experiment--BBC
Direct from Toronto


Again, the title of the serial is incorrectly printed as "Quartermass". The Direct from Toronto caption indicates that microwave feed was coming out of that city. And the inclusion of the (English) note under CBFT was because some programming on that station was also noted as being in (French).


LA SEMAINE

La Semaine listing for CBOT, on 31 July 1953

For the francophone population of Quebec and other French-speaking parts of eastern Canada, an alternative, slightly smaller radio and television listings magazine, La Semaine à Radio-Canada, was published on a weekly basis in French.

Similar in format to the CBC Times, it was published independently out of Montreal and its main focus was to highlight the French programming on Radio-Canada, the French language arm of the CBC.

Since both radio and television stations in this market carried programming in French and to a lesser extent in English, La Semaine offered articles related to both. For example, a weekly column titled "Domaine Anglais" appeared for the radio, and English television programming notes (which incorporated either full or edited translations of some of the CBC Times articles/information) appeared as part of other articles that dealt with television programming.

The 17 July 1953 issue of La Semaine (also with the TV schedules for 26 July to 1 August) duplicates the 31 July programme billing that was in the Times, even so far as including the additional letter "R" in the series' title.


7.30--The Quartermass Experiment


The fact that Quatermass is listed in both publications that were prepared before and issued on 17 July is very important - if only for the fact that the scheduling of the first episode of the serial was done in early July BEFORE any episodes had been broadcast in the UK.

This answers the question posed by Steve Roberts earlier as to why the serial had been recorded in the first place: it does appear that it was because of the sale to Canada … Unless the CBC took advantage of the programme being recorded for other reasons...


OFFER AND SALE

The serial had been green-lit by the BBC by May 1953. Originally, director Rudolph Cartier had planned to film-record the serial in its entirety for a possible repeat, but at that time Actors' Equity did not allow the recording of live performances; any 'repeats' had to be performed again.

As a compromise, Cartier instead planned to record short sections of each live performance to create a "Previously on Quatermass" recap montage to play at the start of parts two to six.

But this notion was also rejected by the BBC's Programme Organiser, Joanna Spicer, who informed Cartier in a memo dated 16 June 1953 that:

We have no agreement with Equity for the repeat in recorded form of performances by Equity artists and we are therefore precluded from telerecording from any live performances by actors for subsequent use, even in the form of a trailer to another live performance by the same actors.

But later an agreement was reached that allowed for the film-recording of short sequences during the transmission for the purpose of recaps. However, since two episodes were fully tele-recorded four weeks later, something else had to have happened to change that directive…

The first 'media release' about the forthcoming serial concerning "an experiment in space travel" had been issued on 17 June. It's very possible that the BBC's Canadian overseas representative, T J H Sloan, who was based in Toronto, received this, and events were set in motion to have the broadcast recorded for the CBC.

As noted above, Ottawa's station CBOT had recently launched (on 2 June), bringing TV to a third of the population, so the newly-networked CBC would have been on the look-out for fresh drama beyond all the locally-made or US fare that was being shown.

Since the serial was broadcast live, the BBC would not have been able to supply the CBC with any completed footage to audition. It's therefore likely that the pre-sale of the programme sight-unseen was done merely by giving them copies of the available scripts, and an agreement to purchase could be made on that alone.

According to the Viewing Notes that came with the 2005 DVD release, Nigel Kneale had written only the first four scripts by the time the first went before the cameras, and none of the cast and crew knew how the story ended. The CBC wouldn't have known either. So it was very much a purchase on trust.

Whatever the mechanism by which the offer and sale was made, by the time the CBC purchase was signed off, some of the location pre-filming had been completed. It's entirely possible that a representative from the CBC was present during filming and rehearsals, that latter which took place from Monday, 13 July, and the sale was ultimately finalised based on what he saw.

Since his name is mentioned in the preview in the CBC Times of 17 July, it's possible that CBLT's "chief producer Mavor Moore" had a hand in making this decision.

The CBC now had a brand new serial to screen to its growing TV audience. All that was needed was to find a suitable day and timeslot. And that timeslot was …


FRIDAY 7.30PM

Since 13 March 1953, the Friday 7.30pm slot had been occupied by the Toronto-produced SF drama "Space Command", and this was due to conclude its current run on 17 July. This slot was ideal for the new series, as it would appeal to the same audience.

The CBC selected Friday, 31 July as the start date for Quatermass as this would give them two full weeks after the opening UK broadcast to receive and prepare the film-recording (also known as a kinescope) for transmission.

With "Space Command" ending when it did for a natural break in production (it was broadcast live), something else was needed to fill the 24 July slot.

The CBC Times has a billing for "Tales of Adventure" on that date. However, since this 26-episode series had concluded in March 1953, and was itself replaced by "Space Command", this must be an error.

(As we reveal below, the newspapers all listed something else for that date.)

With Quatermass scheduled to occupy the Friday 7.30pm slot for the next six weeks, the CBC Times duly came out on 17 July, with The Quartermass Experiment [sic] listed for the first time, and with the short preview article cited above…

The next two weekly editions of the CBC Times have Quartermass [sic] listed on Friday. (For simplicity we will stick to calling the series by its correct title from now on). But in the issue that was published on 7 August (for programmes on 16-22 August), the series was absent from the line-up, with the Times merely putting a "To Be Announced" notice in the 7.30 listing for all three stations:

La Semaine listing with French 'blurb' for 21 August 1953
Changes to the CBFT schedule: La Semaine, 2-8 August 1953
Date Published TV Dates Covered Friday 7.30-8.00
17 July 1953 26 July to 1 August 31 July Quatermass
24 July 1953 2 to 8 August 7 August Quatermass
31 July 1953 9 to 15 August 14 August Quatermass
7 August 1953 16 to 22 August 21 August To Be Announced

Like the Times, La Semaine continued to include Quatermass listings for the next two issues. But unlike the Times, it still had the BBC serial in its schedule for 21 August (see clipping).

For the listings on 7, 14 and 21 August, La Semaine had the addition of a brief blurb:

Nouvelle série de récits d'anticipation. Les aventures de savants perdus dans l'espace interplanétaire. Réalisation de la BBC.

Translation:

New series of stories of excitement. Adventures of scientists lost in interplanetary space. Made by the BBC.

And on page 7 of the 24 July issue of La Semaine (the issue covering 2-8 August) appears a slightly re-written French version of the introductory feature that had appeared in the 17 July edition of the CBC Times; this is our translation:

CBFT Schedule Changes
Space Command has left the CBFT schedule, but this programme has just been replaced by another series just as captivating, The Quartermass Experiment [sic], where the theme is also that of anticipation.
These "futuristic" adventures, which we return to every Friday, from 7:30 to 8 pm, were made in London by the television service of the B.B.C., and are retransmitted by kinescope.
In short, the plot tells the attempt made by Professor Bernard Quartermass [sic], the head of a group of British scientists, to explore (involuntarily) interplanetary space. The original goal of the expedition was to reach a certain altitude to observe Earth, but the rocket carrying the voyagers suddenly escapes the gravitational pull of the planet and gets lost in space . . .
This is where the real "thrills" start. . .


All issues of the Times and Semaine published after 7 August (i.e. TV for the weeks after 23 August) no longer have Quatermass listed, and in the 7.30pm Friday slot is "Dusty Bates", and this continues to be so for the next few weeks after that. (It's possible that the CBC had this 4-part cliffhanger serial from 1947 lined up to screen in this slot once Quatermass had concluded on 5 September, but brought it forward to fill the sudden void.)

What this tells us is that by the time the first episode was due to air in Canada on 31 July, three issues of the Times and La Semaine had already been published, up to and including what would have been part three on 14 August.


REGIONAL NEWSPAPERS

That's the CBC Times and La Semaine covered. What about the regional newspapers? The following are the papers we were able to access either online or in print:

  • TORONTO: The Toronto Daily Star and Toronto Globe and Mail had listings for the CBC Ontario station CBLT Channel 9
  • OTTAWA: The Ottawa Journal and Ottawa Citizen had listings for CBC Ontario station CBOT Channel 4
  • MONTREAL: The Montreal Gazette; Sherbrooke Daily Record; Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph; La Revue de Granby; La Tribune; and Le Devoir all had listings for CBC Quebec station CBFT Channel 2
La Tribune

Newspapers only needed to prepare their TV listings page a day or so in advance of printing and publication, but it's evident that some just referred to the nine-day old issues they had of CBC Times or La Semaine than getting updates directly from the CBC itself, hence a few errors begin to creep in, especially in the French-language papers, which would have had copies of La Semaine for reference.

In all cases here, the series they have down for the Friday 7.30pm slot for 17 July was the final episode of "Space Command".

As noted above, although the CBC Times had "Tales of Adventure" for 24 July, all the newspapers we looked at had something else listed: this was usually coverage of the Ascot Gold Cup Race. (This would have been 16mm footage recorded during the live broadcast in the UK on 18 June 1953, then shipped over to Canada for transmission a month later.)

All the Ottawa and Toronto papers have this listed, but for some odd reason, La Semaine still has "Space Command", which is clearly a mistake; this error has then been copied by all the other Quebec-based French papers, as they also have "Space Command" down for 24 July.

For 31 July 1953, all bar two of the above papers carried a listing for the BBC serial: in most cases, it's printed as the incorrect "The Quartermass Experiment":

Toronto Globe & Mail
Ottawa Citizen
Montreal Gazette


Sherbrooke Daily Record
La Revue de Granby
La Devoir


Only the Toronto Globe and Mail had any form of plot description with its 31 July listing, and with the correct spelling of the name!:

Quatermass Experiment: Six part space travel series produced by BBC. Written by Nigel Kneal [sic] and produced by Rudolph Cartier. "The Quatermass Experiment" is, briefly, the story of an attempt to send a manned rocket beyond the atmosphere of the earth, and what transpires when a technical fault develops in outer space.


The two exceptions to this were the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph and the Ottawa Journal. The former still had "Space Command", but since that series ended two weeks previously, this must be a 'cut and paste' error. The latter had "Ascot Gold Cup Race" listed again, but since that was on the previous week, it must also be a 'cut and paste' error.

However, since the Journal correctly had "Royal River Pageant" listed for 7 August, whereas most of the other papers didn't, it is possible that the Ascot Races was repeated on 31 July as the replacement programme, and as the Journal was an evening paper it was probably able to get more up to date listings from the CBC before going to print.


Quatermass To Canada

As we've discovered, this was a pre-sale to Canada made at some point in late June / early July, before the serial had even been made. With the deal signed off, the BBC was able to have the serial recorded onto film during the live performances.


PART ONE

The first episode, "Contact Has Been Established", went out live on the BBC on Saturday, 18 July 1953, at 8.15pm from the studios at Alexandra Palace. The BBC film-recorded the live output onto 35mm film, using two Mechau film recorders; since each could only hold a magazine of around nine minutes, the second machine was activated as the first ran out of film; the first was reloaded, and when machine #2 ran out of film, the first was started again. The three sections of film were later spliced together.

The edited 35mm film was copied onto a single reel of 16mm film and dispatched to the CBC very soon after transmission. The CBC probably had an 'out clause' that enabled them to cancel the purchase after assessing the film recording. Clearly they were happy with the print they got. Presumably the arrangement was that each episode would then be sent to them straight after each UK transmission.

On Friday 24 July, this being the week during which the CBC received the film of part one, the issue of the CBC Times carrying listings for 2-8 August was published. Although it did not carry an 'episode number', this was for episode two of The Quatermass Experiment, due to air in the UK the following day. So far, for all concerned, it was 'business as usual'…

An insect lands, and goes for a walk…
…a forlorn Reginald Tate is bugged about something, then waves bye-bye to his overseas repeats residuals…


PART TWO

The second episode - "Persons Reported Missing" - went out live on Saturday, 25 July 1953, at 8.25pm. As before, the Mechau machines recorded the live output onto 35mm film … however half way through the transmission, a tiny winged insect landed on the TV monitor, and proceeded to wander across the screen!

As before, the film-recording was processed, edited and duplicated for the CBC. However, there was another problem, as Steve Roberts explains:

"Episode two's recording is of a lower quality than episode one and there are some nasty technical problems on display. At one point the image collapses vertically, before bouncing back, turning negative, then positive again - but only in the top half of the screen - before finally settling down. For most of the second half, an insect can be seen sitting on the film recorder monitor, its image indelibly burnt into the film recording. At several points in the recording the picture is affected by severe amounts of random impulse noise, probably caused by a bad connection or a noisy thermionic valve in the video amplifier."

All these technical issues meant that the film print of part two was substandard.

Since the CBC had a 16mm print of it (as Steve noted earlier), the second instalment had been duly dispatched to the broadcaster, and it arrived at their offices a few days or so prior to 31 July, the date which we now know had already been scheduled two weeks earlier.

But bear in mind that in 1953, watching television was a fairly new experience for most Canadians (the CBC's television service was only a year old by this time), and the average viewer probably wouldn't have noticed or even been aware of these technical failings being shown on their small low resolution black and white screens - even the insect appears only as a small dark blob, and is really only noticeable when it's sitting over a light background.

But it would now seem clear that the imperfections in the print were the main contributing factor for them to cancel the broadcast of part one on 31 July (a day or so hence) and to instruct the BBC not to film-record the third instalment which was going out that Saturday.

There may have also been an issue with the running time: the finished episode was 34'50", nearly five minutes longer than the allocated half hour. (Part one was nearly two minutes over length at 31'57'.) This meant either editing it down by five minutes (or more, if extra time was also required for advertising?), or letting the rest of the evening's programmes run behind schedule.

A combination of a poor quality image, an inconvenient insect and vastly over-length running times may all have contributed to the CBC's decision to cancel the broadcasts.

The BBC could very well have continued film-recording the rest of the series, still with a repeat screening in mind, or offering it to another purchaser (not that they had many potential buyers - of the very few other countries that had a television service by 1953, only the United States spoke English), but it's clear that this did not happen, and only the first two episodes were preserved on film. The other four went out live over the next four weeks (without any filmed recaps), never to be seen again.


The Quite A Mess Text Error Print

With Quatermass gone, something else needed to be screened at 7.30pm… Back to the newspapers, since that's not quite the end of the tale…

What was shown on the CBC in place of part one, we do not know, since all the papers for 31 July have The Quatermass/Quartermass Experiment listed. The identity of the last minute replacement is lost to history. (Presumably there was an on-screen announcement advising there was a change to the advertised programme.)

None of the papers after 31 July - not even the CBC Times - made any mention of the serial not screening, or why it wasn't on the subsequent weeks.

"To Be Announced" - Ottawa Citizen, 14 August 1953

The following week, 7 August, most of the Ottawa and Toronto papers have the Royal River Pageant listed; this was broadcast on the BBC on 22 July 1953. The Ottawa Citizen has "To Be Announced" for this (per the CBC Times) but also for the next two weeks.

But the confusion was just beginning to set in …

Bizarrely, with the exception of Montreal Gazette (which has the Royal River Pageant) all the Quebec-based regional newspapers that carried listings for CBFT still had The Quatermass Experiment listed.

We suspect that they were still copying what was printed in the now incorrect La Semaine for 2-8 August that had been published a week earlier, when Quatermass was still in the schedules, rather than getting updated directly from the CBC, as the Gazette would probably have been.

The next week, 14 August, most papers reported that the Friday 7.30pm slot was taken by "Dusty Bates" - except for the Ottawa Citizen which still had "To Be Announced", and the Quebec regionals which were still referring to the increasingly-inaccurate issues of the CBC Times and/or La Semaine and still had Quatermass.

For 21 August, the papers hadn't quite grasped that Quatermass was no longer in the schedules and had been replaced, as some still say "To Be Announced", and all the Quebec ones still put Quatermass. The others we looked at all correctly have "Dusty Bates".

But by 28 August, all confusion had begun to die down, and all the papers we referred to finally had "Dusty Bates" in the Friday 7.30pm slot - as it was in the CBC Times. (This was episode 3 of the 4-part serial).

This table shows what the schedules would have been like had all six parts of the BBC serial been recorded and aired, against what was shown instead:

Adventures of Dusty Bates DVD
Airdate Planned Programme Actual Programme
17 July 1953 Space Command (final) Space Command (final)
24 July 1953 Ascot Gold Cup race Ascot Gold Cup race
31 July 1953 Quatermass Part 1 Unknown Replacement #
7 August 1953 Quatermass Part 2 Royal River Pageant
14 August 1953 Quatermass Part 3 Dusty Bates (part 1)
21 August 1953 Quatermass Part 4 Dusty Bates (part 2)
28 August 1953 Quatermass Part 5 Dusty Bates (part 3)
4 September 1953 Quatermass Part 6 Dusty Bates (part 4)

(#) The replacement might have been a repeat of the previous week's Ascot Gold Cup Race.

The CBC Times, La Semaine and the newspapers did not carry anything to explain why Quatermass did not screen.

But presumably there were also voiceover announcements on the evenings of 31 July, 7, 14 and 21 August to say there was a change to the advertised programme.

If we had undertaken this research by looking at just the CBC Times, or only La Semaine, or from accessing the regional papers and no others, given all the inconsistent listings before, during and after July 1953, we doubt we'd have been able to make any sense of this at all.

But generally, what was printed in the CBC Times was copied by La Semaine, and both were in turn copied by the regional papers, while the more major papers were able to publish corrected schedules on the day.


Quatermass - Our Conclusion

Robertson Davies book review, Times Colonist, 17 December 1960

It's pretty clear - at least it is to us! - that the two existing episodes of The Quatermass Experiment had been film-recorded specifically for the sale to Canada.

And that the reason the other four episodes were not recorded is because the film print of part two was substandard, and the sale was thus cancelled.

The decision to pull the series from the CBC schedules was very last minute. In fact, it's still not clear who made the decision and at what level - was it the CBC when they viewed the film print of part two, or was it the BBC, aware that they'd sent a dodgy print to a customer?

And how many days ahead of the planned 31 July broadcast it was we will never know. It may have even been that very afternoon! All it would have taken to put a halt to the recording of part three on 1 August was a quick telex, cable, telegram or (then very expensive) phone call to the BBC (Ontario is five hours behind London) to say "don't bother".

The CBC retained the two 16mm prints (per the INFAX record, as noted by Steve Roberts), while the BBC film library held onto the original 35mm optical negative film-recordings plus a separate magnetic soundtrack for part two.


THE QUATERMASS TIMELINE

The Quatermass Experiment script book, Penguin 1959

The following is a likely timeline placing all the events commented on above into chronological order:

  • May 1953: The QUATERMASS project is green-lit, and Nigel Kneale starts writing the scripts
  • June 1953: Plans to film-record the serial is hindered by Equity rules, but this is later resolved
  • June/July: At some point between 16 June and 17 July, the CBC is offered and purchases QUATERMASS
  • June-July 1953: Pre-filming and rehearsals commence
  • 17 July: The CBC Times and La Semaine with listings for 26 July to 1 August are published; QUATERMASS (1) is on Friday at 7.30pm
  • 18 July: QUATERMASS (1) airs in the UK
    • The film print for part 1 arrives in Canada the following week
  • 24 July: The CBC Times for 2 to 8 August published; QUATERMASS (2) is listed
  • 25 July: QUATERMASS (2) airs in the UK (there are tech problems plus a wandering bug)
    • The film print for part 2 arrives in Canada the following week (prior to 31 July)
    • The decision not to proceed with the broadcast of part one and acquisition of the other four must have been made soon after, but too late to amend the CBC Times issue out that day (for the week 9-15 August) or to advise the newspapers coming out on 31 July
    • The BBC is instructed not to bother film-recording part 3 that was going out that weekend...
  • 31 July: The CBC Times for 9 to 15 August is published; QUATERMASS (3) is listed; all the newspapers published that same day list QUATERMASS at 7.30pm, however the serial does not air - an unknown replacement screens instead…
  • 1 August: QUATERMASS (3) airs in the UK - but it is not film-recorded...
  • 7 August: The CBC Times for 16 to 22 August is published; QUATERMASS is no longer listed - the 7.30pm slot says "To Be Announced"; the Quebec newspapers still go out this day with QUATERMASS in the 7.30pm slot
  • 14 August: The CBC Times for 23 to 29 August is published; Dusty Bates is now listed for Friday 7.30pm, however all the Quebec newspapers go out this day with QUATERMASS in the 7.30pm slot
  • 21 August: The CBC Times for 30 August to 5 September is published; Dusty Bates is listed for Friday 7.30pm, and all newspapers subsequently publish the correct schedule


Quatermass in Canada - Eventually!

Although the two sequels - Quatermass II (22 October to 26 November 1955) and Quatermass and the Pit (22 December 1958 to 26 January 1959) - were fully film-recorded by the BBC so they could be repeated, they were not sold to CBC or any other foreign broadcaster. It's not clear why that was the case, since they are both stand-alone dramas, and can be enjoyed without needing to see the "lost" first serial.

The three Hammer Films adaptations did, however, make their way to Canadian cinemas and drive-ins, usually as a double-bill with another feature: the first film, retitled "The Creeping Unknown" for North American markets, was seen across the country from July 1956; the second film - under the new title "Enemy from Space" - was released from October 1957; while the third - as "Five Million Years to Earth" - was shown from February 1968. All three films played in regional theatres as a 'filler' in later years.

These are just a small sample of the many movie billings that appeared in the Canadian press:

QmassFilm1.JPG Qmass1Montreal.JPG


Qmass2Canada.JPG Qmass2Canada2.JPG


Qmass3Canada.JPG Qmas3Five.JPG Qmass3CanadaV.JPG


"Quatermass Conclusion" on TVOntario, 28 February 1984

The Hammer films later made their way to Canadian television (or seen on US stations that could be accessed in Canada), with the first two screening on various channels in 1960 and 1962, and the third from 1972. All three aired many times by numerous stations around the country over the ensuing decades.

The three script books published by Penguin were also released in Canada in 1960. They retailed for 50c each. (Reviews for them appeared in Canadian newspapers during the latter half of the year; see Robertson Davies's above.) None of the published reviews makes any mention of the serials having not been shown on Canadian television, nor of the cinematic adaptations.

The 1979 Arrow Books edition of Nigel Kneale's novelisation of his 4-part Thames TV production, Quatermass, and Arrow's revised reprints of the Penguin script books all have a Canadian $3.50 price on the back cover.

The 4-part Thames serial was later cut-down into a 100-minute movie under the title The Quatermass Conclusion, and it was this version that was first screened by TVOntario on 28 February 1984, and repeated on 19 September 1985.


Quatermass in Doctor Who

  • Many of the actors in The Quatermass Experiment (and the other serials and movies) guested in Doctor Who, too many to list them all here, but the first actor to go on to appear in Doctor Who was Keith Pyott, a Cabinet Minister in part 6, who 11 years later played Autloc in The Aztecs.
  • But the first person seen on screen in Part 1 with a speaking part to later be in Doctor Who is Moray Watson, playing Control Engineer Marsh, who appeared as Sir Robert Muir in 1982's Black Orchid.
  • The stage manager for parts 1-5 was Paddy Russell, later to direct The Massacre, Invasion of the Dinosaurs, Pyramids of Mars and Horror of Fang Rock. In an uncredited capacity, she appeared on camera in crowd scenes for parts 1 and 2.
  • The lighting engineer was Michael Leeston-Smith, who later directed The Myth Makers.
  • Many of the Earth-based serials from the 1960s, plus the first full Jon Pertwee season (1970), owe much to the look and style of the Quatermass serials.
  • In Remembrance of the Daleks, Rachel Jansen and Allison Williams refer to "Bernard" and "the British Rocket Group".
  • The 2005 live adaptation of "The Quatermass Experiment" featured David Tennant, who was cast as the Doctor during pre-production, and a line of dialogue was changed to "Good to have you back, doctor" as an in-joke.
  • A logo for the British Rocket Group - which launched the Guinevere One space probe - is visible on the base wall in 'The Christmas Invasion' (2005), David Tennant's first story as the Doctor - which can't be a coincidence!
  • In 'Planet of the Dead' (2009), UNIT's scientific-adviser Malcolm Taylor has invented a unit of measurement called a "Bernard", which he tells the Doctor is named after "Quatermass".


© Jon Preddle

Thank-you to Steve Roberts (Restoration Team website) and Andrew Pixley (DVD Viewing Notes), but mostly to Hugh Pearson for the CBC Times and La Semaine clippings, and for his advice and help with tracking down other newspaper listings


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