Kneale, Nigel 1922-2006 (Thomas Nigel Kneale)

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Kneale, Nigel 1922-2006 (Thomas Nigel Kneale)


See index for CA sketch: Born April 28, 1922, in Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire, England; died October 29, 2006. Author. Kneale, best known for his shows featuring scientist Bernard Quartermass, was a groundbreaking author of science fiction and horror programs for British television. Initially an actor, he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in the mid-1940s and briefly acted in Shakespearean plays at Stratford-upon-Avon. His first literary effort met with surprising success. The collection Tomato Cain, and Other Stories (1949), which drew upon memories of his Isle of Man childhood, won the prestigious Somerset Maugham Award. Encouraged by his literary agent to write a novel next, Kneale instead went into television. He believed it was a medium that had a long way to go in meeting its full potential. Hired by the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1951, he soon got his first big break. Kneale had been on staff adapting plays and books for television when he was approached by producers to write a show as a way to fill in an unanticipated hole in the programming schedule. Kneale responded by writing the highly original science-fiction serial The Quartermass Experiment (1953). At a time when science fiction was considered a genre for children, Kneale lent a decidedly adult feel to his science fiction, including a subtext of mature thematic concerns. In The Quartermass Experiment and later works, he would address such serious topics as the threat of nuclear war, totalitarianism, the Cold War, manipulation of the masses by the media, and the dangers of pornography. Sometimes his boldness in including violence and sexuality in his screenplays drew negative public reactions. Critics, however, recognized that the author was transforming television science fiction and horror into serious genres. He would follow the original Quartermass adventure with two more serials, Quartermass II (1955) and Quartermass and the Pit (1958-59), both of which he adapted to film as well. An original film, The Quartermass Conclusion, was released in 1979. Kneale left the BBC for ITV in 1975 after the former network decided that his projects were becoming too costly. Among his other works for television are 1984 (1954), which was an adaptation of the George Orwell novel, The Road (1963), The Year of the Sex Olympics (1967), Beasts (1976), Kinvig (1981), and Sharpe's Gold (1995).



Times (London, England), November 2, 2006, p. 71.