Construction is underway on Hobbs Lane in the Knightsbridge section of London. The site is being excavated using industrial equipment. One of the excavators unearths what looks like a misshapen skull. Work is stopped and Dr. Matthew Roney (Cec Linder), an eminent paleontologist from Canada, is called in. Workers discover skeletal fragments of several more people. It is believed that the humanoids are roughly five million years old. The owners of the building project want Roney to hurry and complete his excavation of the site so they can go back to work. Roney, needing more time, tries to drum up interest in the project by going to the press.
Professor Bernard Quatermass (Andre Morell) has his own problems. The military is taking over his moon base project. They want to turn it into a defensive rocket project known as the Dead Man’s Deterrent. By placing missiles on the moon, and anywhere else they colonize, they believe they can prevent war by threatening to annihilate any country that attempts to use nuclear weapons. Quatermass doesn’t want any part of it.
In the meantime, the archeologists at the dig site unearth what they think may be an unexploded bomb from the Second World War. They call in the authorities. The slow pace of trying to determine what the object really is and the seemingly ineptitude of the local military is getting to Roney. He wants to call in an expert. He calls on Quatermass. Quatermass in turn ropes the officer in charge of the rocket project, Colonel James Breen (Anthony Bushell) into weighing in.
When Quatermass finds out the skeletal remains were found in the stratum above where the object was found and that the skeletons are at least five million years old, he has difficulty in believing how that could be. If the object is underneath five-million-year-old remains, how old is the object really, and what is it?
This is the third television series created by Nigel Kneale for the BBC that featured the character, Bernard Quatermass. The first two series were “The Quatermass Experiment” (1953) and “Quatermass II” (1955). This series is a science fiction ghost story. A theatrical film was done in 1967 based on the series. The alternate title of the film version was “5 Million Years to Earth” and was produced by Hammer Film Productions.