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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 November 2006, 17:19 GMT
Quatermass creator was 'TV giant'
Scene from The Quatermass Experiment
Something wicked this way comes in the first Quatermass serial
The League of Gentlemen's Mark Gatiss, who appeared in the 2005 remake of Nigel Kneale's famed 1950s sci-fi serial The Quatermass Experiment, pays tribute to the screenwriter following his death at the age of 84.

He can really lay claim to having created popular television with Quatermass - there was nothing like it before, and after it everything changed.

He didn't really like being regarded as a pioneer, even though he was one, because it sort of put him in the past; what really interested him, I think, were the ideas of the future.

In his later one-off TV plays, things like The Stone Tape and The Year of the Sex Olympics, he kind of predicted the future of television and, in fact, the future of our society, quite spookily.

Sex Olympics portrays a dystopian future in which TV schedules are dominated by mindless shows, and in a drive to improve ratings they maroon some people on an island and watch them 24 hours a day.

Eventually they introduce a murderer into the concept to brighten things up a bit - basically, it was satire once and now it's probably being commissioned.

The brilliant thing about those stories was that they were, in essence, popular sci-fi horror serials, but they were absolutely bursting with original ideas.

Quatermass and the Pit, if you watch it now, it's absolutely unbelievable that it was actually live - it's so slick. An incredibly bold and challenging piece of work.

I met him full of trepidation because he had this reputation for being a bit of a curmudgeon, but he was delightful.

It was amazing to meet him, but also just to be in his company and hear his opinions on current events and how much he thought the world was sliding into chaos.

Mark Gatiss in The Quatermass Experiment
His major works are absolutely of lasting importance
Mark Gatiss
He was a fiercely intelligent man, just a true original.

One of his last great things, he did an adaptation of The Woman in Black for ITV in 1989. It's absolutely brilliant - it was so, so frightening and had a huge impact on me.

He actually wrote it in 10 days and sent it to his agent, and his agent said, 'If you send it in now, they'll think you rushed it.'

So his agent persuaded him to sit on it for three weeks. It was only through an accident he found out they were about to cancel it because they thought he was too old and he hadn't finished it, and he'd actually done it in super-quick time.

He is amongst the greats - he is absolutely as important as Dennis Potter, as David Mercer, as Alan Bleasdale, as Alan Bennett, but I think because of a strange snobbery about fantasy or sci-fi it's never quite been that way.

Now he's gone, perhaps people will reassess - his major works are absolutely of lasting importance. He was a TV giant.

Quatermass creator dies, aged 84
01 Nov 06 |  Entertainment


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