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The Book of Beasts

Folklore, Popular Culture and Nigel Kneale’s ATV TV Series

An in-depth overview of Nigel Kneale’s 1976 Folk Horror anthology television series, Beasts. By Andrew Screen.


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‘It is not what we see that frightens most of us. It is what we don’t see and know…’

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.

Cover art by Andrew-Mark Thompson.

Foreword (by Johnny Mains)


Against the Crowd: Murrain

Beasts: During Barty’s Party

Beasts: Buddyboy

Beasts: The Dummy

Beasts: Special Offer

Beasts: What Big Eyes

Beasts: Baby

The Unmade Stories

After Beasts

About the Author



  • The first book to explore Nigel Kneale’s 1976 Folk Horror TV anthology, Beasts;
  • Contains outlines for three episodes that were never produced;
  • Includes previously unpublished commentaries on the making of the episodes from actors David Simeon and Jane Wymark, plus special effects technician George Leuenberger;
  • Written with full access to Kneale’s personal production files for the series, authorized by Kneale’s estate.


Subtitle: Folklore, Popular Culture and Nigel Kneale’s ATV TV Series
Author: Andrew Screen
ISBN: 978-1-915316-09-7
Street Date: October 5, 2023
Category: Film
Retail Price: UK £22.99 / US $29.95
Binding: Paperback
Size: 229mm x 152mmPages: 434
Illos: 64 B&W stills and ads


As the trade paperback, except this special NO-ISBN hardback is exclusive to this website. Because it carries No ISBN number, this edition of the book is off the grid in as much as it doesn’t appear on any database, in any library, cannot be ordered through mainstream bookshops or online retailers. 


Andy Paciorek
Fortean Times (Aug 24)
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“Screen's book is the most interesting, inviting and entertaining commentary on the work of Nigel Kneale I've encountered.”
Martin UnsworthStarburst Magazine
“The two episodes everyone remembers are During Barty’s Party and Baby, but Screen’s dissection of the series shows that the others also have a lot going for them as well. Each chapter is meticulously researched and, given Screen’s access to archive material, utterly fascinating.”
Rod LottFlick Attack
“Andrew Screen doesn’t just dig; he excavates. Reading each chapter is like getting a DVD commentary so detailed — on-set information, post-airing reaction, every moment broadcast and each evolution from Kneale’s original script — it runs over the allotted time. For example, for “Special Offer,” a standout hour in which only a mousy grocery employee can see the mischievous critter she blames for items literally flying off shelves, Screen gives further context by exploring other telekinesis-themed works and real-life reports of poltergeist activity of the time.”
Jon DearBergcast; Due signori in giallo
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“While The Book of Beasts will be rightly viewed as the definitive work on the series, it’s so much more than that. Andrew Screen has delved into both the origins of the episodes, and the cultural factors at play in their creation, to create something as close as you can get to viewing the world through the eyes of Nigel Kneale. Simply unmissable.”
Maria J. PérezFounder and editor of Hellebore
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“A loving tribute to one of the most unique voices in British television. Screen’s book thoroughly examines Beasts in its cultural context, digging deep into the folklore that illuminates Kneale’s work.”
Tom de VilleWriter and director of Damned Andrew (BBC Radio 4), Hannibal (NBC), and Urban Gothic (Channel 5)
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“An astonishingly detailed and insightful deep dive into one of Britain’s best cult TV series.”
Jonathan Dryden TaylorActor, writer, and son of Beasts director Don Taylor
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“I learned so much! It’s so informative, lovingly written, and full of detail.”
Look Inside

Click Image For Sample Pages

The Book of Beasts Blog
Andrew Screen's blog for all things Nigel Kneale and Beasts related.
Go To Blog

Andrew Screen

ANDREW SCREEN saw Beasts on first transmission when he was nine years old and it cemented a lifelong love of Nigel Kneale, horror, and unexplained phenomena. After graduating and working in film and television post-production, Andrew retrained as a special educational needs teacher and has been a practitioner in this area for over 30 years. He has contributed to Creeping Flesh volumes 1 and 2 (Headpress, 2003; 2005), The Sapphire and Steel Omnibus (Pencil Tip Publishing, 2015), and numerous articles and reviews for Horrified, We Are Cult, and Action TV magazine

The Book of Beasts


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