Saturday 26 December 2020

Holiday Special – The Witches (1966) live

Recorded as live? Surely not...

It's a special one-off episode here. On October 31st, Jon and Howard were able to do one off recording of an episode with a live audience, as part of the RURAL GOTHIC Samhain Surprise live online event. We were honoured to be joined by actor, critic and writer Jonathan Rigby, to talk, appropriately enough, about the Kneale-scripted 1966 Hammer movie The Witches. It's an unedited conversation where we tackle everything from why older Hollywood leading ladies wound up making horror movies in the 60s to the meaning of the word "stichomythia".

Jon and Howard will be returning to Rural Gothic in only a few short days, as we're going to be talking at the RURAL GOTHIC Christmas Ghosts event on 30th December (buy tickets here) on the subject of Christmas 1972, television's spookiest Christmas.

Thursday 24 December 2020

Episode 21 – The Quatermass Conclusion, Part Two

Pictured: 2020 in retrospect

Once again we're joined by James Cooray Smith, journalist, expert and lovely bloke, for the final part of our discussion of the last televised Quatermass story, which makes this the Quatermass Conclusion Conclusion.

As we talk about the bleakest and most apocalyptic story of a pretty bleak canon, we also explore the links the 1979 ITV Quatermass has with Blood on Satan's Claw, compare Nigel Kneale with George Lucas and Charles Dickens, and what “aging well” really means.

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Episode 20 – The Quatermass Conclusion, Part One

Time Out, 1979; artwork Mick Brownfield.

It took us four tries and the better part of a year finally to get a podcast about the final televised Quatermass story, 1979's ITV Quatermass, given a limited cinema release as The Quatermass Conclusion. We're joined by the endlessly patient and thoroughly lovely James Cooray Smith, journalist and cultural commentator, whose take on what is possibly the most 2020 of Quatermass stories is going to bring us to Christmas. 

And you won't have to wait too long for part two – we're posting it tomorrow. 

Monday 14 December 2020

Episode 19 — Nigel Kneale and Woodfall, featuring Samira Ahmed

We were very excited to welcome the simply amazing Samira Ahmed to talk about the somewhat overlooked contribution Nigel Kneale made to the early Woodfall films, Look Back in Anger and The Entertainer. On the way we’ll examine the influence of Judith Kerr on Kneale’s work, what sets Kneale apart from writers like John Wyndham and Dennis Potter, and if Donald Pleasence ever looked young. 

Once again, you can find us on all your favourite podcast outlets. Hope you enjoy! 

Monday 16 November 2020

Episode 18 – Beasts, Part 2

Artwork: Ash Loydon

Once again, the people at BERGCAST are  delighted to welcome Andrew Screen, writer of a forthcoming guide to Beasts, Nigel Kneale's terrifying 1976 anthology series. 

What was Our Nigel’s beef with the Hammer Family? How did a toy poodle play a part in one of the most chilling scenes ever shown on broadcast telly? Was there really a time when Bernard Horsfall strangled two beloved TV scientists in a single week? Which Hellraiser movie was the one with the spaceship?

Tap the play button to find out. 

We'd like to say a big thank you to Caroline Champion, Johnny Mains and Andy Murray for their help on this one. 

Friday 23 October 2020

Episode 17 – Beasts, Part 1

For this episode, Jon and I are joined by Andrew Screen, writer of a forthcoming book about Nigel Kneale's anthology series Beasts to talk about that, and its predecessor, the Against the Crowd episode Murrain, which is for obvious reasons very close to my heart. 

Join us for a discussion of how great a terse character description can be, the truth about the farmer's name in Murrain, and what Pauline Quirke has to do with a talking Mongoose called Gef. 

Andrew was also kind enough to send us pictures (taken by Julian Jones) of the locations from Murrain as they are now. a few of which you can see here. 

All photos were taken by Julian Jones

As ever, you can find BERGCAST in all the usual podcast places, but for your convenience feel free to liten below. And remember that you can find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter as @BERGCASTcalling

This is also a good time to point out that we're going to be recording a live BERGCAST on October 31st as part of the RURAL GOTHIC online symposium, a day-long event full of spooky goodness and we'll be talking about The Witches (the Hammer one, not the Angelica Huston one or the Anne Hathaway one) with film historian and actor Jonathan Rigby. Tickets are still available here.

Friday 21 August 2020

Episode 16 – The Stone Tape with Una McCormack


(Jane Asher, having read the ending)

It's another very special episode of BERGCAST, as we're joined by our second-favourite Doctor in media, the tremendous Dr Una McCormack, with whom we're talking about the 1972 Kneale play The Stone Tape. In a discussion where we talk about the history of British manufacturing, the surprising role of Boromir, the value of fanfiction and parallels with classic Japanese horror, Una raises the very pertinent point of whether the story of a man's downfall really needs to be presented over the corpse of a woman, and we speculate as to what The Stone Tape would look like if it were feminist... and in space. 

 As ever, find us in all your favourite podcast venues. And remember that you can find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter as @BERGCASTcalling.

Friday 7 August 2020

Episode 15 – Mark Gatiss on the legacy of Nigel Kneale

Mark Gatiss referred to Nigel Kneale as “the man who invented popular television”. 

It can be a curse of a writer tagged as ‘genre’ that they may never been seen alongside the very best. As Mark said when Kneale died, “He is amongst the greats – he is absolutely as important as Dennis Potter, as David Mercer, as Alan Bleasdale, as Alan Bennett, but I think because of a strange snobbery about fantasy or sci-fi, it’s never been quite that way.”

In this episode, we chat with Mark about his love for Nigel Kneale’s work, his influence and his legacy. Mark recalls the one time he met the man himself and how he tried to get greater industry recognition for Kneale. He also talks about following in Nigel’s footsteps by adapting Wells’s The First Men in the Moon, and the experience of making The Quatermass Experiment in 2005.

As ever, You can find BERGCAST on your favourite podcast outlets, and you can give it a listen here. 

Friday 17 July 2020

Episode 14 – The Lost Kneales, Part Two

In the concluding part of our look at the lost work of Nigel Kneale, Toby Hadoke talks about the practicalities of adapting The Road for radio, and Andy Murray examines the controversy of The Big, Big Giggle and its legacy in other Kneale works.
We also look at why his two Wednesday Plays are less well remembered than other missing work like Out of the Unknown: The Chopper & wonder, did Nigel invent joyriding?
Find us, as ever, in the usual podcast venues, or listen below.

Thursday 2 July 2020

Episode 13 – The Lost Kneales, Part One

In our latest lockdown special we welcome back Toby Hadoke and Andy Murray for the first of a two-part look at some of Nigel Kneale's lost stories. In this episode we examine Kneale's early radio plays, The Long Stairs and You Must Listen, Kneale's application to work at the BBC as well as classics like The Creature – and The Road, which Toby adapted for radio in 2018.

You can find us in all the usual places, as ever.

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.