Monday, January 12, 2015

Turning the Last Page on Clemens

At the risk of turning The Rap Sheet into The Death Sheet (didn’t I just write about Rod Taylor passing away and then recap noteworthy decedents of 2014?), let me ask for a moment of silence to remember Brian Clemens. The British screenwriter-producer (and Mark Twain descendent) best known for his work on The Avengers (1961-1969) and The Professionals (1977-1983), died this last Saturday at age 83.

As Ayo Onatade notes in Shotsmag Confidential:
[Clemens’] scripts have enlivened almost every action-drama series seen on television over the last 50 years. …

Brian Clemens wrote the original pilot episode for The Avengers back in 1961 and went on to be the script editor, associate producer and main scriptwriter for the series. He was also involved in writing episodes for the U.S. TV series Darkroom which was hosted by James Coburn, Remington Steele (which featured Pierce Brosnan) and Max Monroe: Loose Cannon. Brian Clemens was also involved in Bergerac [and] ITV’s Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense. He also adapted Gavin Lyall’s espionage thriller The Secret Servant into a three-part drama for the BBC in 1984. He was also involved in C15: The New Professionals. He also wrote three episodes for Quiller, the TV series, and a number of episodes for The Persuaders! along with The Champions TV series.

In the U.S. he was again involved in and worked on a number of notable TV crime dramas, including The Father Dowling Mysteries, Raymond Burr’s Perry Mason (the feature-length series) and Diagnosis: Murder, featuring Dick Van Dyke, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

He was also involved in films, and either wrote [or] produced a number of films for Hammer Films. He also wrote the screenplays for the films Operation Murder (1957), Station Six-Sahara (1963) and Highlander II: The Quickening (1991).

Clemens was also the author of a number of novels including The Devil at Midnight (2001) and Murder Weapon (2012), both [of] which were adapted into plays.
A catalogue of Clemens’ many entertainment credits is here.

In a piece for A Shroud of Thoughts, Terence Towles Canote recalls Clemens’ work specifically on The Avengers:
He also wrote the teleplay for the first episode The Avengers, “Hot Snow,” based on a story by Patrick Brawn. At this point the show centred on Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry), a police surgeon swept into a world of intrigue by the mysterious John Steed (Patrick Macnee). Ian Hendry left The Avengers after its first series and was replaced by Honor Blackman as Mrs. Cathy Gale and Venus Smith (Julie Stevens). The latter only lasted for one series. While Mr. Clemens wrote only one more episode during The Avengers’ first two series, he became a regular contributor to the show with its third series (the last to feature Cathy Gale). It was during the third series of The Avengers that Brian Clemens and the other writers further refined the show as it would come to be known--a blend of tongue-in-cheek humour with witty dialogue and often fantastic plots.

It was with the fourth series of The Avengers (the first to feature Dame Diana Rigg as Emma Peel) that Brian Clemens became an associate producer on the show. As the show’s associate producer Brian Clemens further refined the show until it was the perfect blend of British upper-class wit, sex appeal, diabolical masterminds, and fantastic plots. It was with the show’s fifth series (the last with Emma Peel) that Mr. Clemens became a full-fledged producer on the show, a position he maintained except for a brief period between the fifth and sixth series when he and fellow producer Albert Fennel were replaced by John Bryce. In his time with The Avengers Brian Clemens wrote some of the show’s most iconic episodes, including “Build a Better Mousetrap,” “A Touch of Brimstone,” “How to Succeed … at Murder,” and “Epic.”
At the time of his demise, Clemens’ son George told BBC News, his father “had been working with him and his brother Samuel on a horror film.” Samuel Clemens added that the last thing his octogenarian father did before passing away was watch an episode of The Avengers. “His last words were: I did quite a good job,” Samuel said.

Talk about understatements!

READ MORE:Farewell to Brian Clemens (1931-2015),” by Sergio Angelini (Tipping My Fedora).

1 comment:

Gram said...

I loved The Avengers - best with Mrs. Peel, but how could I have forgotten Bergerac? I hope it's on YouTube.