As writer of the legendary Quatermass television serials and a string of unforgettable TV plays, Nigel Kneale is one of British popular culture’s most influential figures. Fully revised and updated, a new edition of Into the Unknown by Andy Murray has been released by Headpress, charting Kneale’s extraordinary career. The book draws on extensive interviews with Kneale and his many high-profile admirers, as well as featuring a wealth of previously unpublished material.
Since the earliest days of British television drama, scriptwriter Nigel Kneale has been a seminal figure. His Quatermass serials for the BBC were a seismic event in the 1950s, before finding international success when adapted by Hammer Films for the big screen. Later TV plays, such as The Road, The Stone Tape and The Year of the Sex Olympics, skilfully blend elements of science fiction and the ghost story. They remain classics and Kneale himself a great influence on popular culture.
Into the Unknown charts Nigel Kneale’s extraordinary career, from his childhood on the Isle of Man, to his fraught days at the BBC, strange adventures in Hollywood, and his status as legend to legions of fans. It draws on a wealth of research and many hours of interviews with Kneale himself, as well as prominent admirers. These include John Carpenter, Ramsey Campbell, Grant Morrison, Russell T Davies, and Mark Gatiss and Jeremy Dyson of the League of Gentlemen.
The original Into the Unknown was written with the co-operation of Nigel Kneale himself, and drawing heavily on extensive interviews with him, this new edition – fully revised and updated – features a wealth of previously unpublished material.
A prolific writer and critic with a particular interest in cult British film and television, Andy Murray, who lectures in Film Journalism at the University of Salford, programmed the annual Darkness Over Britain screenings at Manchester’s Cornerhouse and was consultant to the BBC4 documentary The Kneale Tapes.
“My own first encounter with the work of Nigel Kneale came very late on in his career,” says Andy, “and strictly speaking it’s a non-encounter. In 1979, when I was seven, ITV screened Quatermass, Kneale’s belated ‘conclusion’ to the 1950s serials about the same character. I wasn’t allowed to watch it. My parents, who’d grown up in the 1950s, associated Quatermass with nerve-fraying fear and decided it would be too much for my young mind. I can’t remember ever being stopped from watching any other programme.
“A good friend of mine – he’ll forgive me for mentioning that he’s a shade older than me – tells a similar story,” he adds. “His Mother, whilst she’d been a WREN in the fifties, had gone on an outing to see the Hammer Quatermass films. They scared her out of her wits, and even today, it seems, the mention of the name Quatermass turns her white as a sheet.
The new updated edition includes a frontispiece by Keith Hopewell.
• Into the Unknown by Andy Murray will be published on 1st July 2017. Buy the paperback here from amazon.co.uk (using this link helps support downthetubes) or buy the Hardcover edition direct from Headpress