Episode 1 Contact Has Been Established: A new rocket produced by the Experimental Rocket Group, under the direction of Professor Bernard Quatermass (Reginald Tate), has been out of contact with Earth for the last 57 hours. Eventually the capsule returns to Earth and crashes in Wimbledon, London. The crew consists of Victor Carroon (Duncan Lamont), Charles Greene (Peter Bathurst) and Dr. Ludwig Reichenheim (Christopher Rhodes). When the capsule is finally opened the only one on board is Victor Carroon. The other two astronauts are missing.
Episode 2 Persons Reported Missing: The seriously ill Carroon is being attended to by the Rocket Group’s physician, Dr. Gordon Briscoe (John Glen). A crowd of reporters, especially the dogged journalist, James Fullalove (Paul Whitsun-Jones) and Scotland Yard’s Inspector Lomax (Ian Colin) have questions, lots of questions. So far Carroon has been too ill to answer any inquiries. He is given a myriad of tests. When Carroon does answer questions, the answers are puzzling. It appears that he has taken on the personality traits of the two missing astronauts.
Quatermass is called to the rocket by the Rocket Group’s technician, John Paterson (Hugh Kelly). Paterson has found a strange powdery substance inside the rocket. The power seems to have been spread around by centrifugal force. It appears to be organic.
“The Quatermass Experiment” was a six-episode television series for the BBC in 1953. It was the first of four series written by Nigel Kneale between 1953 and 1979 that featured the Quatermass character. The series was the first television science fiction program written specifically for adult television audiences. The Quatermass saga is believed to have influenced much of television’s and theatrical film’s science fiction stories.
Only two of the six episodes have survived. The series was shown live and only the first two episodes were recorded. The plan had been to telerecord all six episodes, however, that never happened. Due to the poor quality of the recordings the remaining episodes were never recorded. These two episodes are still important since they are the oldest surviving examples of a multi-episodic drama produced by Britain.
The highlight of the second episode was an insect that landed on the screen. I believe it was during the airport scene when Quatermass is picking up Mrs. Greene. It ends up hanging around for the next scene as well. The effect of the monster inside Westminster Abbey was achieved by using a pair of gloves covered in fake foliage that was stuck through a photograph of the Abbey’s interior. Writer Nigel Kneale was still writing the final episodes when the first episode was broadcast and had only a vague idea how it would end.
The theme music for the series was from “Mars, Bringer of War” from Gustav Holt’s masterpiece “The Planets Suite”.
Although the remaining episodes are lost, there are some plot lines that describe what they entailed.
Episode 3 Special Knowledge: An attempt is made to kidnap Carron. Carroon manages to escape but whatever has affected him in space is causing him to change.
Episode 4 Believed to Be Suffering: Carroon, now on a blind run, takes refuge inside a theater for a time. Carroon then goes to see a chemist. He is in pain and the mutation has begun.
Episode 5 An Unidentified Species: Quatermass analyzes samples of the organic matter. He believes Carroon’s metamorphosis is accelerating. As Carroon changes into an alien-plant creature, he becomes deadly. The Carroon-alien ends up at Westminster Abbey.
Episode 6 State of Emergency: The military and Quatermass catch up with Carroon. Quatermass tries to appeal to any vestiges of Carroon that may be left in the pulsating mass. If he cannot reach the essence of the man, the creature will release its spore and take over the Earth.
Episodes 1 and 2
Gustav Holst "The Planets Suite"