Quatermass: Brexit & A Warning from TV History (or 'How they learned to hate science and love the Brex')
Quatermass is a story of the future ... but perhaps only a few years from now. What might be in store for us if our civilisation were to come under terrible unforeseen strain.
Nigel Kneale, 1979.
I saw the final Quatermass TV series as an impressionable 10 year old. Like many of my generation, it's stayed with me ever since. The earlier Quatermass films and TV series are more respected critically and writer Nigel Kneale himself had reservations about the way the 1979 instalment was realised. Yet however imperfect it is, it does have great poetic dystopian power.
At the time, the urban warfare and mad cults it depicts were (correctly) taken as Kneale's somewhat bitter look back in anger at the social and political chaos of the 1960s and 1970s. It's forgotten that Kneale was looking forwards as much as backwards. In a feature for the TV Times to promote the series, he argued that the near total collapse of civilisation that he foresaw might be just a few years away.
Until a few years ago, his dystopian vision might have seemed compelling, but without any strong cultural and political resonance. However, in the chaotic and potentially catastrophic aftermath of the Brexit referendum, it seems to me that the series is horribly relevant. The embrace of physical and intellectual violence and the cult-like fixation on the goal of what I know call the 'Brexit People' all take on a very sinister light when viewed through the prism of Kneale's bleak vision. I've now explored its troubling relevance in detail for the Quietus.