Nigel Kneale was one of Britain’s most significant screenwriters of the twentieth century. Credited by Mark Gatiss as “the inventor of modern television”, Kneale’s works included the Quatermass serials, The Year of the Sex Olympics, The Stone Tape, Beasts and essential television adaptations of The Woman in Black and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Although not as widely lauded in his lifetime as many of his contemporaries, Kneale was a profound influence for many writers and filmmakers, including John Carpenter, Stanley Kubrick, Stephen King and Ben Wheatley.
Known for his folkloric horror and politically charged science fiction, Kneale works used the past to explain the present and thanks for his uncanny understanding of humanity, made startlingly accurate predictions about the future. In this talk Jon Dear will examine what Kneale understood about humanity, why his predictions over climate change inaction and the rise of reality television reveal deeper and darker commentary on racism and generational conflict, and how his most famous creation, Professor Bernard Quatermass is a distillation of humanity at its best.
Jon Dear is a writer and critic on TV and film. He has written for the BFI, including their Flipside range, Horrified Magazine, Curious British Television and the Fortean Times. He also contributed to We Don’t Go Back: A Watcher’s Guide to Folk Horror and Royal Holloway University’s Forgotten Television Drama project. Jon is the co-host of the podcasts BERGCAST: The Nigel Kneale Podcast and Due Signori in Giallo. His recent work includes commentaries for the Blu Ray Releases of Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954), Whistle and I’ll Come to You (1968) and A Warning to the Curious(1972). He is currently writing a book on the BBC’s Ghost Stories for Christmas Series. Twitter: @AccordingtoJonD
Your curator and host for this event will be the writer Edward Parnell, author of Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country. Edward Parnell lives in Norfolk and has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Ghostland (William Collins, 2019), a work of narrative non-fiction, is a moving exploration of what has haunted our writers and artists – as well as the author’s own haunted past; it was shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley 2020 prize, an award given to a literary autobiography of excellence. Edward’s first novel The Listeners (2014), won the Rethink New Novels Prize. For further info see: https://edwardparnell.com. Twitter: @edward_parnell
[Image from a publicity poster for Quatermass and the Pit (1967) – private collection]