I have just finished watching all three and a quarter hours of the Quatermass Conclusion TV series, or as many people call it and the title I prefer, Ringstone Round, named after the first episode.
It stared the veteran actor John Mills as Quatermass and his intermittent assistant was played by one of my favourite Seventies thesps, Simon MacCorkindale, who sadly died in 2010 aged just 58. Readers may know him from the Riddle of the Sands, Jaws 3D, Falcon Crest, Manimal and Casualty.
Ringstone Round was shown in 1979 at the close of the decade. I didn't see it first time round, although the general vision of the piece would have rung a bell with my former hippy self I'm sure.
The overall message of this TV series was a heady mixture of environmentalism and extra-terrestrial apocalypse. There were also sub-plots about youth culture [the demise of the flower generation and the dawn of punk?], family, religion and machinery and the fear of it.
This last point about machines I found really fascinating. Ringstone Round was made before PC's became a household thing in the Eighties, so the technology on display weren't computers but radios and telescopes. In fact telecommunications were the bete noir of the emerging youth sub-culture, the Planet Children, who acted like luddites throughout, destroying the radio satellite station at the heart of the drama.
This fear of radios and antennae in the hands of boffins and their use as weapons against darker forces was a feature of Science Fiction right up to the Seventies I would say. Just think of Dr.Who, The Avengers, Doomwatch and The Stone Tape.
I think this fear has largely disappeared now and certainly isn't a trope used in modern TV.
Come to think of it neither is environmentalism. So many brilliant TV dramas were based on the tensions between the green movement, Science and murky Government agencies: Quatermass [with aliens thrown in for good measure], Chimera and perhaps the sub-genre's Eighties zenith, The Edge of Darkness.
With Ringstone Round in the bag I am now turning to a much older Quatermass, going right back to the Nineteen Fifties were it all began.
What are your thoughts on Quatermass and its ilk readers?