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The Quatermass Experiment: Non-review

I really wanted to buy The Quatermass Experiment - that is, the 2005 BBC FOUR live version, which was the first live drama the BBC has done since 1983. I must admit, I switched on late to it - but sat riveted throughout. Absolutely marvellous. And technically amazing - you had to keep reminding yourself it was done live.

So, the DVD was a must-have. And it seemed even more so when I read about the extras - the booklet and picture gallery sounds nice, but combined with a commentary from David Tennant, Mark Gatiss, technical director Trevor Hampton and producer Alison Willett, and a Making-Of documentary, who wouldn't want it?


The reason for my change of heart, then? Quite simple.

They've edited it.


They've edited it.

The whole point of the thing is that it was a live show, where mistakes can't be corrected, which gives the whole thing its excitement, and what have they done?

They've edited it.

Producer Alison Willett explains why in an interview in this week's Dreamwatch:

You've removed some live mistakes, why didn't you include them as deleted scenes on the DVD?
They're tiny things. There was an occasion when an actor dried and he'd done it really well the night before and it wouldn't be fair to do that. And there was another occasion where an actor crashed off set and again it didn't add anything to it. Apart from that, some of the edits were a bit loose, so again we just tightened things up.

Well, for a start, she undermines her argument in the first sentence - if they're just "tiny things", why bother to remove them? More importantly - what's the bit I remember most from the broadcast? The crash off-screen at the end of one scene. I was really looking forward to seeing that again - and to hear everyone comment on it in the commentary. Whether they do mention it on the commentary or not I simply don't know - but the fact remains that the most memorable part of the production for me is chopped out.

Let's face it - yes, it would have been entertaining if the piece hadn't been live - but the live element was the main draw. It's the reason it got some of the best viewing figures BBC FOUR has ever had. Who cares if the edits are loose? It doesn't ruin anything. Who cares if the actors screwed up slightly? That's part of the fun - and doesn't diminish the respect you have for each of them. I want to see it as originally broadcast - warts and all. That's the entire point of the thing.

As it is, I shall simply vote with my wallet. This was one DVD I was so looking forward to owning. I simply won't bother now. A great pity.

About this entry


I taped it (the repeat a couple of nights later, admittedly, as I couldn't tape the first one), but that was exactly the same as the original transmission.
I'd buy the DVD anyway, just for the aforementioned commentary with Mark Gatiss and David Tennant.

Though I'd wait until after Christmas, obviously.

By si
December 05, 2005 @ 11:04 am

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I thought the repeat was edited? It certainly cut out Brian from Teachers drying up.

By Cappsy
December 05, 2005 @ 10:03 pm

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Wasit? Oh, my mistake, sorry.

(And don't talk to me about drying up...)

By si
December 06, 2005 @ 4:58 pm

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So basically the point of live TV is to watch actors cock things up?

By Rad
December 22, 2005 @ 5:20 pm

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Well, not exactly.

It's more the excitement that it might *possibly* happen. Plus, the number of any other things that could go wrong. And the knowledge that it's happening *now* adds even more excitement, of course.

The DVD should be a record of all this. With no extra editing.

By John Hoare
December 23, 2005 @ 9:01 pm

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They're advertising this again in the latest SFX.

It's got loads of great special features, but: no. If it's not as it was originally broadcast, I'm Just Not Interested.

By John Hoare
November 22, 2006 @ 11:11 am

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Oooooooooooooh... That's whole-heartedly aggravating. I missed the broadcast and somewhere along the line I sort of forgot about this. When I saw this article, my interest was peaked but now it's a puzzle indeed: what's the point in not recording the 'great live TV experiment' for posterity? Eh?

By Rosti
November 29, 2006 @ 6:46 pm

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I never did buy this, you know.


John Hoare's picture

By John Hoare
August 04, 2008 @ 1:45 am

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