Brian Clemens – Creator of The Avengers.
We felt we just had to pay our tribute to the screenwriter Brian Clemens, who died the other day at the age of 83.
Brian Clemens was a self-taught writer who sold his first short story at the age of twelve. After a period in advertising he went on to script some of the most iconic television series of the twentieth-century. He wrote the pilot for the spy series Danger Man (starring Patrick MacGoohan) He created The Avengers, that witty, exciting and occasionally camp series that seemed to define Sixties television, with its dashing English gentleman hero John Steed (played with style and relish by Patrick Macnee) and a series of women heroines such as Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) and Tara King (Linda Thorson). It started modestly with Ian Hendry, gradually evolving into the quirky and memorable series which is a fond part of the recollections of people of a certain age.
In the 1970s, Clemens created and wrote the Thriller series, each episode a one-off play with sinister characters and a twist ending. We’ve recently watched the series again and were impressed with the way it has held up. The series features a great many fine British actors and American guest stars. Well worth seeking out on DVD to watch on these dark evenings.
Brian Clemens contributed scripts to many British and American crime series, including Adam Adamant Lives!, Bergerac, The Champions, Diagnosis: Murder, The Protectors, The Persuaders, the American revival of Perry Mason and many more. He also wrote the amusing sit-com My Wife Next Door, about a divorced couple who end up living in adjoining cottages.
In the 1970s he created and wrote The Professionals, a fast-moving thriller series about the fictional law agency CI5, headed by George Cowley, played with great authority by Gordon Jackson, his first long part after playing Mr Hudson the butler in the original Upstairs Downstairs, with Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins as the field agents Doyle and Bodie.
There was also The New Avengers, reviving the character of John Steed with two new companions played by Joanna Lumley and Gareth Hunt. Fast-moving, even if it lacked the magic of the original.
There was scarce a thrilling TV series in the 1960s/70s that didn’t either boast a Clemens script or showed the influence of his writing.
Brian Clemens plays a hugely important part in the inclusion of thrillers and crime as a staple part of British television to this day. It is pleasing that so much of his work is available on DVD. Apart from our recent watching of Thriller, we have spent much of the past year watching original episodes of The Avengers. Do seek them out!