The first attempt to launch a manned rocket into space meets with serious problems; the three-man vehicle, rather than following a carefully-planned parabola to make a single orbit, veers hundreds of thousands of miles off course, losing all contact with Earth. As the rocket’s designer, Professor Bernard Quatermass of the British Experimental Rocket Group, tensely awaits word when the atomic-powered rocket finally approaches Earth again. With no contact from the astronauts themselves, the rocket returns to Earth under remote control from the ground, but the best that Quatermass and his team can manage is to bring it in for the least-damaging crash landing possible. Still intact, the rocket has slammed into a neighborhood near Wimbledon Commons, and astonishingly no one on the ground is hurt, though police evacuate residents from their homes. Quatermass and his team arrive to open the rocket, but inside they find only one astronaut remaining: engineer Victor Carroon, whose wife is a member of Quatermass’ ground control team. The other two men are missing without a trace, their spacesuits left empty in the rocket.
Cast: Reginald Tate (Professor Bernard Quatermass), Isabel Dean (Judith Carroon), Duncan Lamont (Victor Carroon), Hugh Kelly (John Paterson), Moray Watson (Peter Marsh), W. Thorp Devereux (Blaker), Van Boolen (Len Matthews), Iris Ballard (Mr. Matthews), Eugene Leahy (Police Inspector), Neil Wilson (Policeman),Colyn Davies (Fireman), Katie Johnson (Miss Wilde), Oliver Johnston (News Editor), Paul Whitsun-Jones (James Fullalove), Patrick Westwood (First Reporter), Dominic LeFoe (Second Reporter), Nicholas Bruce (BBC Newsreader), Pat McGrath (BBC Interviewer), MacGregor Urquhart (Sandwichman), Denis Wyndham (Reveller)
Notes: Broadcast in 1953 as a live play for television with one film insert (actual film from a camera mounted aboard a captured German V2 rocket launched from White Sands, New Mexico in 1946), The Quatermass Experiment was one of the earliest instances of the BBC making a “telerecording” (a film recording from a television screen showing the live broadcast) of a drama production rather than live coverage of a news event. This was also one of the final major productions staged at the BBC’s original television studios at Alexandra Palace, using some of the BBC’s original 1930s cameras, before the bulk of production was moved to the then-new Lime Grove studios (future home of the TARDIS).