Wednesday, 13 May 2020

BERGCAST Ghost Stories, Episode 2 – The Magician's Wireless

There's a risk inherent in a love for obsolete technology. It can haunt us, especially when you know where it came from.

The second of our lockdown ghost stories, written and read by Howard and introduced by Jon in his guise as BERGCAST's own Man in Black, deals with the legacy of Elis Llewelyn Pritchard, the Most Wicked Man in Wales.

Friday, 8 May 2020

Episode 12 – The Year of the Sex Olympics

Appropriately enough for a time we’re all stuck in watching telly, the BFI has reissued Nigel Kneale’s The Year of the Sex Olympics.

After his adaptation of 1984 and the abortive Brave New World, this is Kneale’s attempt predict dystopia and the influence of those earlier works shine through.

So for this lockdown special we’ll don our gold paint and consult our custard pie experts as we examine the programme that predicted the rise of Love Island, Gogglebox and the Doctor Who story Vengeance on Varos. On the way, we’ll look at look at what Kneale is actually critiquing.

Is it the free love generation? It is mass media manipulation or does he just really hates TV execs? We have two guests this time, writers, film historians and curators Vic Pratt and William Fowler, whose work on the BFI Flipside series is vital in highlighting the weird and wonderful in British cinema. And we can highly recommend their book, The Bodies Beneath.

Monday, 27 April 2020

BERGCAST Ghost Stories, Episode 1 – The Austringer (1969)

It's fair to say that of that period of British TV history that is largely lost, the 1969 play The Austringer, a story of two city folk who fall foul of a lonely rural pagan, is one of the things that is the most lost. It is likely that although a film copy was made for overseas sale, The Austringer is gone forever. But as is the case with any lost television, can we be certain?

It wasn't as far we know anything to do with Nigel Kneale, so maybe it's outside of our remit, but the way in which these things are lost (and sometimes discovered) is of great interest to us. They are the ghosts of television.

In this, the first of a series of specials, the Man in Black introduces the story of a discovery. Of a televisual ghost.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Episode 11 – Quatermass and the Pit AKA Five Million Years to Earth (1967)

This episode of BERGCAST, recorded last September, is a landmark for us, partly because we got to talk to Hammer Archivist and Doctor Who Magazine editor Marcus Hearn, partly because it was recorded in the HQ of the British Film Institute, but, for me, mainly because it is the first one we got to do where I was actually present in the room.

It had been a good week, all told. I was passing through London on my way back from having guested at Portugal's marvellous MotelX horror festival, where I got to judge the Méliès d'Argent Portuguese short film horror contest and interview Hereditary/Midsommar director Ari Aster on the stage of Lisbon's beautiful Cinema São Jorge. I spent a magical afternoon napping on the grass with a dear friend in Hyde Park, before heading up to Stephen Street for a stimulating discussion on the history of the Hammer Quatermass and the Pit (AKA Five Million Years to Earth), which is probably the version of Quatermass that more people have seen than any other.
Over the course of the next hour and a bit, Marcus enlightened us on why it took so long to make a third Quatermass (but why they kept trying), and who else could have played our pal Bernard.

We touch on the awkward relationship that Quatermass has with the sex/colour/blood aesthetic of Hammer Horror and Babs Windsor's bra.

We hear a tale of two Roy Bakers, and muse on whether the only things violated in this movie are trade descriptions.
And we talk about the legacy of this film, and how the juxtaposition of the prosaic and the uncanny lend it its curious power.

We're taking a break for a month or so now, as we get our Martians in a line for BERGCAST Season Two, where we'll be meeting a whole new set of guests, and going to the Quatermass Conclusion... and beyond.

Due credit: we owe a big vote of thanks to ourlovely engineer Emma, Andrea Kinnear, Toby Hadoke and Sarah Reuben of the BFI, and also, although I don't mention it in the outro (sorry), Kier-La Janisse of the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, without any of whom, as the saying goes, this would not have happened.

Listen here, at the BERGCAST site, or download from your favourite podcast outlets. 

Friday, 24 January 2020

Episode 10 - Quatermass and the Pit (1958) - Part Two

This is the second part of our descent into the Pit, and again we're honoured to be joined by prolific writer Maura McHugh.

Along with our discussion of what may be Nigel Kneale's finest moment, we look at MONSTERS FROM THE ID, the Nazi rocket scientist no one wanted, great character surnames, the entire absence of a philosophical leviathan, and HP Lovecraft's debt to bad archaeology.

Listen here, at the BERGCAST site, or download from your favourite podcast outlets.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Episode 9 – Quatermass and the Pit (1958) – Part One

Today, the BERGCAST team finally heads for the only place really left to go: the Pit, source of terror, hauntings and that awful social Darwinist impulse that drives the people to suicidal mass action, which isn't remotely topical. In our exploration of 1958's original version of Quatermass and the Pit, we're joined by our guest, horror and fantasy novelist, playwright and Squaxx dek Thargo, the brilliant Maura McHugh.

The sky. The sky is purple.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Episode 8 – Quatermass 2 (1957) - Part Two


This episode sees the conclusion of Jon and guest James Goss's look at Hammer's Quatermass 2

In a wide-ranging discussion that encompasses everything from Alan Plater to Flesh Gordon, they witnesses the trauma of Sid James being shot in the face (apparently), admire the inventive use of filler text and investigate if this really is the first use of the suffix '2' in a film title. James also tells us about interviewing Nigel Kneale for his student magazine... 
But what we want to know is, is this really Nicholas Courtney? 
Listen to BERGCAST below, via all the usual podcast venues, or the BERGCAST site.