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

Several years after the previous serial took place, Professor Quatermass is trying to perfect a dangerously unstable nuclear-powered rocket engine. After a disastrous test firing in ... See full summary »

Stars: John Robinson, Monica Grey, Hugh Griffith
The Quatermass Experiment (TV Series 1953)
Drama | Sci-Fi | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 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
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
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
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
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 5.2/10 X  

A contemporary adaptation of Nigel Kneale's seminal 1953 science fiction serial.

Director: Sam Miller
Stars: Jason Flemyng, Adrian Dunbar, Mark Gatiss
The Day of the Triffids (TV Mini-Series 1981)
Horror | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

When a comet blinds nearly everyone in the world, a genetically-engineered species of plant takes over.

Stars: John Duttine, Emma Relph, Maurice Colbourne
X the Unknown (1956)
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A radioactive, mud-like creature terrorizes a Scottish village.

Directors: Leslie Norman, Joseph Losey
Stars: Dean Jagger, Edward Chapman, Leo McKern
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Cast

Complete series cast summary:
...
 Professor Bernard Quatermass (6 episodes, 1958-1959)
...
 Dr. Matthew Roney (6 episodes, 1958-1959)
...
 Colonel James Breen (6 episodes, 1958-1959)
...
 Captain Potter (6 episodes, 1958-1959)
...
 Barbara Judd (6 episodes, 1958-1959)
Michael Ripper ...
 Sergeant (5 episodes, 1958-1959)
...
 Corporal Gibson (5 episodes, 1958-1959)
Clifford Cox ...
 First Private / ... (5 episodes, 1958-1959)
Brian Gilmar ...
 Second Private / ... (5 episodes, 1958-1959)
Alexander Moyes ...
 Narrator (5 episodes, 1958-1959)
Brian Worth ...
 James Fullalove (4 episodes, 1959)
Richard Shaw ...
 Sladden (4 episodes, 1959)
Richard Dare ...
 Private Secretary / ... (4 episodes, 1958-1959)
Kenneth Seeger ...
 Sightseer / ... (4 episodes, 1958-1959)
Tony Quinn ...
 News Editor (3 episodes, 1959)
John Walker ...
 Private West (3 episodes, 1958-1959)
Robert Perceval ...
 Minister / ... (3 episodes, 1958-1959)
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)
Bill Shine ...
 2nd Journalist / ... (2 episodes, 1959)
Harold Siddons ...
 Electrician (2 episodes, 1959)
Bernard Spear ...
 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)
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Storyline

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>

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

22 December 1958 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Pit  »

Box Office

Budget:

£17,578 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(6 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Both André Morell (Professor Bernard Quatermass) and Richard Shaw (Sladden) were asked to reprise their roles in the film adaptation Five Million Years to Earth (1967). However, Morell was not interested in repeating himself while Shaw was unable to do so because of a prior engagement. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Sladden: Yeah, I reckon this'll cut through pretty well anything that exists. I did steel armor plate with it six inches thick, just like that! Oh, it was legal. Bloke shut in a strong room, I got him out. Secret job, like this one.
Col. Breen: Then I'm glad you don't talk about it.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Evolution of the Invasion (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

The Greatest Sci-Fi Production In The History Of Television
11 November 2004 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

The Hammer version of this BBC teleplay used to scare the sh*t out of me as a child . The BBC broadcast episode 3 as part of a 50th celebration for the corporation in November 1986 and I was very impressed but also rather sad that the rest of the series wasn't shown . Jump forward to May 1988 and I was flicking through The Radio Times ( the BBC's TV guide ) and there was a page advertising the latest video releases from the BBC with the teleplay of QUATERMASS AND THE PIT being one of them . This astounded me because I thought the beeb would have released it in a blaze of publicity , we are talking about a television legend that used to empty the streets when broadcast in the 1950s so what was it doing being released along with a bunch of anonymous series on video ? I sent off for the video and bit my fingernails waiting for it to arrive . You know when you're a child you look forward to Xmas ? Well that was me as a 21 year old adult in the spring of 1988 ( The most bitter sweet year of my life but that's another story ) I only hoped I wasn't going to be disappointed with this television masterpiece

After seeing it I wasn't disappointed at all , it was every bit as good as I possibly expected and more . Nigel Kneale has written the most thought provoking science fiction drama in the history of television . Unlike his previous teleplay QUATERMASS 2 there's no episodic quality to the serial , there's no over ambitious set pieces . He has written a beautifully paced script with a mind blowing subtext on human nature . Look at the scene in the middle of the first episode where a radio broadcast tells of violence around the world and this is forgotten about until it ties in with the final scene where Quatermass addresses the nation on the original sin of humanity . It's amazing that Kneale included this because no one watching QUATERMASS AND THE PIT at home in 1958 could have remembered this apparently throwaway line but it's important to the subtext of the story . Mr Kneale you are a genius

I said this was a science fiction drama but maybe I should state that it's a drama first and foremost . Like all of the Quatermass serials there's little in the way of pitched battles between soldiers and bulletproof aliens all so common in 1950 sci-fi movies . There's little action but watching the character interaction between Quatermass and Roney on one side and Col Breen and the war office on the other is a joy to watch . Nigel Kneale has a reputation for writing good dialogue in all of his teleplays and he exceeds himself here . Some classic lines include:

" And then , and then you can't see this world anymore "

" A blind man with a dog "

And my own personal favourite line: " Mister Fullalove , a day or two ago you were enquiring into the activities of ghosts and demons . Did you get their opinion too ? "

That last line was spoken by Col Breen my all time favourite character from the QUATERMASS serials and his character interaction with Quatermass seems to have been resurrected in an inverted manner in early 70s DOCTOR WHO . It should be remembered that because of the war and national service much of the audience would have been able to relate to the character far more than today's audience ever could

Some people watching this for the first time might possibly be disappointed by it especially if they've seen the Hammer version . Yes I do concede that the original is less spectacular but once again it's not intended as a Hollywood blockbuster and the film version is inferior over all . The acting and characterisation is superior here with Captain Potter being a major figure unlike in the film with James Fullalove being absent in the cinema version and Col Breen is certainly more memorable here . I did notice that Anthony Bushell ( Who always forever cast as army officers - Check out his resume ) goes OTT in one scene namely when he reads the newspaper headline but he is superb as a narrow minded Breen . It can be argued that Cec Linder might have been taking too much coffee when playing Doctor Roney but perhaps his character is supposed to be slightly hyperactive and for me Andre Morrell is the definitive Bernard Quatermass . The only performance in the movie that surpasses that of their TV counter part character is probably Barbara Shelley as Miss Judd

This is a masterwork from both Rudolph Cartier and Nigel Kneale . As soon as Quatermass finishes his television broadcast he walks off camera , the stirring music ends and so ends the greatest drama under the banner of telefantasy . Other sci-fi dramas have tried to emulate the dramatic realism of this , the very best of the QUATERMASS saga but only a few like DOOMWATCH and the very best stories of DOCTOR WHO have come close . None have surpassed it


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