Nigel Kneale is perhaps best known for his pioneering work in television fantasy, notably the creation of Quatermass, and his landmark adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 for the BBC. This book is the first in-depth study of another, arguably lesser known but equally as important, Kneale creation: the 1976 Folk Horror anthology television series, Beasts.
Each of the six episodes of Beasts was a standalone supernatural drama exploring themes and ideas prevalent throughout Kneale’s work, all within the confines of a lowly British television budget. From pilot episode Murrain to cult favourite Baby, Beasts charted an uncanny British landscape, where the ghost of a dolphin haunts an aquarium and a supermarket is plagued by a mysterious animalistic presence.
In researching and writing this book, author Andrew Screen was given rare access to Kneale’s original scripts and production paperwork and provides an exclusive account of Kneale’s trials and tribulations in developing the series. There are also interviews with members of cast and crew, a discussion of episode treatments that were prepared but never realised ― and the reasons why Kneale abandoned these at an early stage. Moreover, each storyline is contextualised with real life developments and events, exploring the mythological and cultural inspirations that place the series within its immediate historical framework.
Written with full permission from the Kneale estate, The Book of Beasts is a comprehensive overview of a cult television series and its enduring impact on viewers today.
With a foreword by Johnny Mains.