Thursday, November 02, 2006

Nigel Kneale, 1922-2006

Nigel Kneale has died at the age of 84.

Kneale was one of the great British SF screenwriters, creator of the wonderful Quatermass series from the days of live TV (the greatest instalment of which was Quatermass and the Pit - get the beautifully restored original TV version on DVD, far superior to the Hammer movie remake of the late 1960s). Kneale also did a startlingly good adaptation of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four for the BBC in the 1950s, and some remarkable, prescient single plays through the '60s and 70s: "The Year of the Sex Olympics" has some uncanny resonances with today's television; "The Stone Tape" still packs a few scares and shocks.

Kneale's influence was enormous, and to a large extent he defined the limits of acceptable/respectable SF in British TV. (It's hard to imagine that there could have been a Dr Who without his trailblazing efforts for the genre.)

Like Ray Bradbury, Kneale crossed genres without hesitation. His science fiction was filled with horror, his horror often scientifically rationalised, all of it delivered with an element of fun. In the latter part of his career he even wrote a sitcom, the unusual (and, to be honest, not very funny) Kinvig.

He will be missed.

Wikipedia has a good biography of Kneale, and this obituary from The Independent reminds me that Kneale made significant non-genre contributions to British film, with work on Look Back in Anger and The Entertainer.

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