We'd like to say a belated goodbye to Nigel Kneale who died last week. Londonist are huge fans of his work and we were genuinely saddened to hear of his passing. When we scoff at crap like Doctor New-who and Torchwooden its partly because we've seen how British sci-fi should be done. We namecheck Quatermass as often as we possibly can on the site (and the good professor also gets a mention in our London Collection) not only because he loosed a space beastie in Westminster Abbey (The Quatermass Experiment) but also because Kneale devastated London with Satanic Martians (Quatermass and the Pit) before, best of all, purging Wembley Stadium in The Quatermass Conclusion.
He changed the way we watched science fiction and influenced a good chunk of our favourite writers. Here's Warren Ellis:
It’s hard to imagine, now, the impact that the first three QUATERMASS stories had. For six weeks, the country would go home on QUATERMASS night. Pubs would empty out. In those early days of television, an unapologetically adult, complex and weird piece of speculative fiction was common culture. When tv people in the States tell me that the masses “just don’t get” science fiction, this is what I tell them: that before the cast of THE X-FILES was even born, Britain used to shut down on QUATERMASS night, and it’s all people would talk about the next day.
And that was down to Nigel Kneale, last of a generation of writers for British television who were determined that this common culture should always be entertaining, intelligent, challenging and groundbreaking.
Time to play a little Holst...