announced at the end of 2005 for publication in early 2006,
but delayed several months due to updating chapters on the BBC
4 remake of The Quatermass Experiment, this is the much anticipated
first ever biography of the seminal writer Nigel Kneale.
Author Andy Murray kicks the book off in confident manner by
debunking several myths around Kneale (who aided Murray in his
research by not only allowing the biographer full access to
his scripts and files, but also by offering his recollections).
Sadly, however, this excellent start somehow loses momentum
and the book ends up a rather flat and dull read. Perhaps it
was the long wait and the crest of anticipation that gathered
in that period as this is, surprisingly the first ever account
of without a doubt one of the seminal British TV writers still
living, but somehow this book, whilst providing an adequate
and informative account of Kneale's early life and body of work,
becomes repetitive and monotone.
The book does, however, score very high when it comes to recounting
the unmade projects, possibly purely because they have never
been fully covered before, but this is all let down by a lack
of any indexes which could have certainly boosted the value
of the book. A lack of an extensive filmogaphy, including unmade
projects, or any kind of referencing difficult. Also Headpress
have evidently been restricted in what sources they can afford
to pool photographs from, but at least they have had the confidence
to spot what will still hope will be a commercial success despite
my negative responses.
It's surprising that a book regarding Kneale has taken this
long to be published and this is a competent enough book and
is a solid enough overview of Kneale's work, but it all somehow
lacks cohesion and in-depth insight. More detail in to how the
productions were made would have been certainly welcome as would
more analysis of the social and cultural impact Kneale's work
has had. These topics are often left to quotes from fans who
now work in the industry (including film director John Carpenter
and League of Gentleman stars Mark Gatiss and Jeremy Dyson)
or from surviving members of the production teams that made
Kneale's work and this has the problem of turning the book in
to a long stream of anecdotes rather than a cohesive overview.
Despite its failings this is still a solid book, but one that
should have been much more incisive and polished and as such
it is not a fitting enough tribute to Kneale and his impact
on broadcasting - that book is still to be written, but for
now this will do.