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Quatermass and the Pit 

A team of scientists search for the origin and purpose of a mysterious capsule found on a building site.




1959   1958  


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Horror | Mystery | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A mysterious artifact is unearthed in London, and famous scientist Bernard Quatermass is called into to divine its origins and explain its strange effects on people.

Director: Roy Ward Baker
Stars: James Donald, Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley
Quatermass II (TV Mini-Series 1955)
Drama | Sci-Fi | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Professor Quatermass is trying to perfect a dangerously unstable nuclear-powered rocket engine. After a disastrous test firing in Australia, his soon-to-be son-in-law, Captain John Dillon, ... See full summary »

Stars: John Robinson, Monica Grey, Hugh Griffith
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

In 1950s England, professor Quatermass' manned rocket ship returns to Earth, but two of the astronauts are missing and the survivor seems ill and unable to communicate.

Director: Val Guest
Stars: Brian Donlevy, Jack Warner, Margia Dean
The Quatermass Experiment (TV Series 1953)
Drama | Sci-Fi | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Professor Bernard Quatermass, Director General of the British Experimental Rocket Group, launches the first manned space flight from Australia. A malfunction sends the rocket and its three ... See full summary »

Stars: Reginald Tate, Isabel Dean, Hugh Kelly
Sci-Fi | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Professor Quatermass, trying to gather support for his Lunar colonisation project, is intrigued by mysterious traces that have been showing up.

Director: Val Guest
Stars: Brian Donlevy, John Longden, Sidney James
Quatermass (TV Mini-Series 1979)
Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

In the near future, civilisation has broken down to the barest fragment of recognisable life. Young people are forming gangs and dominating the wrecks of cities like London. But the ... See full summary »

Stars: John Mills, Simon MacCorkindale, Ralph Arliss
Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A separate screenplay by Nigel Kneale for theaters, parallel to the 1979 Quatermass four part mini-series. The story set in the near future involves influences from outer space that are possessing people. Professor Quatermass must save his granddaughter from the clutches of a popular and sinister cult "Planet People" that "performs raptures".

Director: Piers Haggard
Stars: John Mills, Simon MacCorkindale, Barbara Kellerman
The Quatermass Experiment (TV Movie 2005)
Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

Professor Bernard Quatermass' manned rocket ship returns to Earth but two of the astronauts are missing and the survivor seems ill and unable to communicate.

Director: Sam Miller
Stars: Jason Flemyng, Adrian Dunbar, Mark Gatiss
UFO (1970–1973)
Action | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

In the year 1980 the Earth is threatened by an alien race who kidnap and kill humans and use them for body parts. A highly secret military organization is set up in the hope of defending ... See full summary »

Stars: Ed Bishop, Dolores Mantez, Michael Billington
Sapphire & Steel (1979–1982)
Mystery | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Complex, involved science-fiction series about a special force of interdimensional operatives whose task is to protect the universe from evil forces trying to gain a foothold by disrupting ... See full summary »

Stars: David McCallum, Joanna Lumley, David Collings
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

An American occult novelist battles to save the soul of a young girl from a group of Satanists, led by an excommunicated priest, who plan on using her as the representative of the Devil on Earth.

Director: Peter Sykes
Stars: Richard Widmark, Christopher Lee, Honor Blackman
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Dracula is resurrected, preying on four unsuspecting visitors to his castle.

Director: Terence Fisher
Stars: Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Andrew Keir


Complete series cast summary:
 Captain Potter 6 episodes, 1958-1959
 Barbara Judd 6 episodes, 1958-1959
Clifford Cox ...
Brian Gilmar ...
 Second Private / ... 5 episodes, 1958-1959
Alexander Moyes ...
Brian Worth ...
 James Fullalove 4 episodes, 1959
Richard Shaw ...
Richard Dare ...
 Harrison - Private Secretary / ... 4 episodes, 1958-1959
Kenneth Seeger ...
 Sightseer / ... 4 episodes, 1958-1959
Tony Quinn ...
 Jacko - News Editor 3 episodes, 1959
John Walker ...
Robert Perceval ...
Ian Ainsley ...
 Police Inspector 3 episodes, 1958-1959
Noel Howlett ...
 Vicar Gilpin 3 episodes, 1959
 Official 2 episodes, 1959
Allan McClelland ...
 1st Journalist / ... 2 episodes, 1959
 2nd Journalist / ... 2 episodes, 1959
Harold Siddons ...
 Electrician 2 episodes, 1959
Bernard Spear ...
 Arthur - First Customer / ... 2 episodes, 1959
Patrick Connor ...
 Policeman 2 episodes, 1959
Hilda Barry ...
 Mrs. Anne Chilcot 2 episodes, 1958
Victor Platt ...
 P.C. Ellis 2 episodes, 1958
Kenneth J. Warren ...
 Young Constable 2 episodes, 1958
Howell Davies ...
 Mr. Chilcot 2 episodes, 1958


When a skull is found during building works at Knightsbridge, London, the work is halted in order that a full archaeological dig can proceed. The diggers delve deeper, finding more skulls, but also finding some form of tube-like shell made of a ceramic like material. The Ministry of Defence believe it to be an un-exploded bomb, but when they manage to dig inside the shell, dead insect-like creatures are found. The MOD continue with their story, but Professor Quatermass's theory that the insects are Martians who visited Earth over five million years ago is proved to be correct with drastic consequences. Written by Rhino <rhino@blueyonder.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

22 December 1958 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Pit  »


Box Office


£17,578 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(6 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


André Morell had previously been approached to appear in the second Quatermass serial, Quatermass II (1955) after Reginald Tate's sudden death. The part eventually went to John Robinson. See more »


During the cliffhanger of Episode Two ("The Ghosts") the interior of the capsule is still streaked with dirt and clay. When this scene is reprised at the start of Episode Three ("Imps and Demons") the capsule is completely clean, even though no time is supposed to have elapsed. See more »


The Minister: Do you know what you're implying? That we owe our human condition to the intervention of insects.
See more »


Followed by The Quatermass Conclusion (1979) See more »


Escape Velocity
Written and Performed by Trevor Duncan
Courtesy of Boosey & Hawkes
See more »

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User Reviews

Just plain impressive across the board – from the ideas in the story to the fact it was broadcast live, hard to fault
28 April 2012 | by See all my reviews

Long before watching this, I had seen the Hammer film version and had enjoyed it a great deal as I found it to be quite thoughtful and intelligent while also being creepy and a bit unnerving. Sitting to complete the DVD box-set by watching the third series over a few nights, I was surprised to find just how strong it was and how very well it has stood up to the effects of time. The main reason for this is the plotting and the delivery thereof. The story sees the gradual discovery of something in the earth below London – at first the missing link, then an unexploded bomb and then something much odder indeed. Within a few hours this story has taken us from a group of builders unearthing a skull, through to the brink of man's destruction – a journey that manages to be convincing, engaging and thrilling, even though it is a 1950's BBC TV drama driven mostly by people talking in front of a big plastic pipe sticking out of the ground. I don't mean to sound like a heretic in front of sci-fi fans, but this is sort of what this series is. But yet it works incredibly well.

The story builds excellently. The dialogue isn't clunky and actually draws you in with its precision and thoughtful discussions of what is going on – an approach that makes the dramatic moments all the more dramatic by virtue of contrast. What really drives it though are the ideas and it is here that I almost wish I had the ability to see it as someone watching on television when it was first broadcast. Thanks to the mainstream success of sci-fi horror films down the years and shows like X-files, the idea of an alien presence being on Earth before humans and shaping and guiding life is not shockingly new – nor does any religious group get particularly offended when a sci-fi suggests a plot of that nature, however this Quatermass and the Pit was made in the late 50's and it was a very different world then.

I particularly wonder how the effects went down because watching with my cynical "seen it all" eye from the comfort of 2012, I was still genuinely unnerved by the excellent sense of foreboding creeping across the film and a little scared by the images and events of the final few episodes (the wild hunt sticking in my mind the most). When older fans speak about their memories of hiding behind the sofa, I can believe it because this is pretty strong stuff in regards the ideas. OK, we don't see a lot of what we "know" is happening, but because the story, place and characters have all been build so well by dialogue and atmosphere, the viewer is bought into it and it is a small ask to do the work that the cameras cannot. That said I was still impressed by the effects – indeed so impressed that I yet again had to turn to Google just to confirm that this show was mostly broadcast live. The standard of acting and seamless transitions between scenes is impressive enough in this regard but the more dramatic action towards the end is all the more impressive for being done once in front of cameras.

The cast are very good throughout. It took me a minute to get used to yet another actor playing Quatermass (and playing him as a different type of character again) but within one episode I was loving Morell. He doesn't cling too much to the scientific professor and he allows his love of the unknown to show, thus allowing other emotions to come later on. Linder is not quite as good but still works – I think him having an American accent put me off a little but otherwise he was OK. Bushell is good with his one-note character but Finn impressed me the most. In Quatermass II we had a supporting actress who looked like she was in a finishing school parade, but here Finn really lets herself go and her terror and her reactions later are unnerving for just how real she makes they seem. Some very small roles are a bit wooden here, but otherwise everyone is very good – and again, remember this was all done live for the camera.

Quatermass and the Pit was hyped to me, fellow reviewer Theo Robertson would frequently comment on any sci-fi I said was good with "ah yes but you've not seen Quatermass and the Pit", so I did have it in my mind that I should expect something good. Although this preconception normally hurts the reality, here it did no such thing as even though I expected it to be good, I was still surprised by how good it was. A strong script delivers a story brimming with influential ideas and commentary in a technically impressive live delivery. I said I had planned to watch this series over a couple of nights? Never made it – too compulsive to stop, it was gone in one evening.

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