Monday 22 November 2021


Chimera is a science fiction horror series, made in 1991 by Anglia TV. Its title sequence is a chilling sound effect that was also in the spooky film Jacob's Ladder and a creepy whirlpool with a red light at the bottom. This abstract image is a good way to open the story. What follows is an amazing and terrifying TV programme. It follows a young nurse who leaves a busy general hospital in London to work at a peaceful cottage hospital in the wilderness of North Yorkshire, specializing in female fertility problems. However, she quickly realizes not all is as it should be. This hospital, "The Jenner Clinic", has a dark secret. In a secret basement laboratory, the doctors are working on a government sponsored project involving unspeakable genetic experiments. There is a disaster in the laboratory that leads to everybody in the hospital being killed, including the nurse, but her boyfriend is determined to get to the bottom of it. He is helped by one of the laboratory researchers who has gone renegade. Chimera openly breaches the idea that the government is an evil morally nihilistic and destructive entity with no qualms about anything they do. If medical and scientific law has ruled out a particular field of study because it is considered unethical, then they will simply do it covertly without public knowledge or accountability. That is the most frightening element of the story. The leader of the antagonists is a dark-suited smooth-talking minister played by Kenneth Cranham, a role he specializes in. That kind of character is common in the original Utopia and the same dark pall of soulless state toxicity hangs over both series, see: However Chimera also has a humanity vs bureaucracy theme, one that has become quite common, especially in films like King Kong and Avatar. It is actually quite a heartrending story and I can't watch it too often. However, none of the characters are reduced to Machiavellian cut-outs. There are anecdotes, sometimes inserted rather obtrusively, but nonetheless necessary to soften the hard edges of the bad guys, like Cranham's character. In one scene he is on the telephone to his daughter, for example. The horror of the scenario is helped by its gruesome special effects made by the Image Animation Company which previously worked on the productions Hardware and Hellraiser. I'm pleased to say that the entire series is currently on YouTube. I recommend downloading it because it cannot be found commercially. The theme music is by Nigel Hess and the band Chameleon. It is not fully credited and Anglia were beset by phone calls from viewers asking what those haunting vocals are. It is a rendition of an Irish folk song called Rosin Dubh, "little black rose". The two hundred minute four-part series was recut to feature length and released in the USA under the title Monkey Boy. I don't know why Americans keep insisting on different titles for everything, especially lousy ones that give away some of the plot. No, I can only recommend Chimera in its original format.
Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:
The series was scripted by Stephen Gallagher who also wrote the 1982 novel on which it is based. He's also written several episodes of Doctor Who. I've just purchased the book, so I'll let you know what that's like when I've read it.


Chris Burke said...

I remember this Ben, great show, disturbing but I liked it.

Chris Burke said...

I remember this Ben, great, if disturbing show.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Very disturbing and fascinating, Chris. I watched it on YV when it first appeared and I've never forgotten it. I'm glad it's been YouTubed now so more people can enjoy it.