Brian Horace Clemens
30 July 1931
|Died||10 January 2015(aged 83)|
|Occupation||Film and television producer, screenwriter|
|Brenda Prior (m. 1955-1966), Janet Elizabeth Clemens (m. 1979-2015; his death)|
|Diane Enright (~1966-1976)|
|Children||Two with Janet Elizabeth.|
Brian Horace Clemens OBE (30 July 1931 - 10 January 2015) was an English screenwriter and television producer, possibly best known for his work on The Avengers and The Professionals. Clemens was related to Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens), a fact reflected in the naming of his two sons, Samuel Joshua Twain Clemens and George Langhorne Clemens.
Following National Service in the British Army at Aldershot, where he was a weapons training instructor in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, Clemens wanted to be a journalist but decided he did not have any qualifications. He was offered a job with a private detective agency, but this involved taking a training course in the city of Leeds and, as he had been away from home in London for two years, he decided he did not want to go away again. Instead, he worked his way up from messenger boy at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. While he was a copywriter there, he had a thriller screenplay accepted and shot by BBC TV - Valid for Single Journey Only (1955). This brought him to the attention of independent, low-budget movie producers, the Danziger brothers.
From the mid-1950s onwards, Clemens was a staff writer for the Danzigers, churning out dozens of quickie scripts for assembly-line 'B' movies and half-hour television series such as Mark Saber (ITV, 1957-1959; aka Saber of London), White Hunter (ITV, 1958-1960), The Man from Interpol (ITV, 1960-1961), and Richard The Lionheart (ITV, 1961-1965).
He also wrote for ITC Entertainment's thriller series The Invisible Man (ITV, 1958-1959), Sir Francis Drake (ITV, 1961-1962), and Danger Man (ITV, 1960-1961; 1964-1967; aka Secret Agent), for which he had also written the pilot. His output was so prolific during the late 50s and throughout the 1960s that he frequently used the pseudonym Tony O'Grady.
He wrote the second episode for The Avengers but not the pilot as is often stated in 1961 and was the script editor, associate producer and main scriptwriter for The Avengers series (ITV, 1961-1969) and, according to the British Film Institute's profile of him, "brought this spirit of burlesque to his other series - most notably with Adam Adamant Lives! (BBC, 1966-1967), but also with The Baron (ITV, 1966-1967), The Persuaders! (ITV, 1971-1972), The Protectors (ITV, 1972-1974), and The Adventurer (ITV, 1972-1974) - resoundingly poking fun both at the genre they were imitating and the sources of their inspiration."
It was Clemens who cast Diana Rigg to replace departing star Honor Blackman in The Avengers. He was later quoted as saying, "I didn't do Diana a very good service. It made her an international star but I think I could have done more for her as far as the script was concerned. She was rather a stooge to Patrick Macnee's Steed." He did not choose Linda Thorson to replace Rigg.
Clemens created the BBC TV sitcom, My Wife Next Door (1972) but left the scriptwriting to Richard Waring. The series won a BAFTA Award as Best Situation Comedy Series. Made around the same time, the TV movie The Woman Hunter (also 1972) was scripted by Clemens and fellow ITC writer Tony Williamson from the former's story. It was Clemens' first American credit.
In the mid-1970s, Clemens sued fellow writer Terry Nation for plagiarism claiming he had given the concept of the 1975 TV series Survivors to Nation in the late 1960s and that had he registered the idea with the Writers' Guild of Great Britain in 1965. Nation strenuously denied the claim. Both sides agreed to discontinue the case due to escalating legal fees.
Clemens company The Avengers (Film and TV) Enterprises Ltd created as a French/Canadian/British co-productionThe New Avengers (ITV 1976-1977). The series cost £125,000 an episode to produce and was not a critical success, but sold to 120 countries. To cast the central female role of Purdey, Clemens considered "about 700 girls", interviewed 200, read scripts with 40 and screen-tested 15 before choosing Joanna Lumley. His company Avengers Mark One Productions went on to produce The Professionals (ITV, 1977-1983).
In the early 1980s, he was twice asked to produce a United States version of his most successful series - The Avengers U.S.A. for producer Quinn Martin and The Avengers International for Taft Entertainment but neither version materialised. An earlier attempt by Clemens at a US-based Avengers-style series resulted in his writing and co-producing the hour-long pilot film Escapade which was aired by CBS in 1978; again, this project did not proceed to series. However, he did write episodes for the US TV series Darkroom (ABC-TV, 1981-1982), Remington Steele (NBC, 1982-1987), and Max Monroe: Loose Cannon (CBS, 1990).
Back in the UK, he worked on the BBC TV's Bergerac (1981-1991), the anthologies Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense (ITV, 1984-1986) and Worlds Beyond (ITV, 1984-1989), and adapted Gavin Lyall's espionage thriller The Secret Servant as a 3-part drama for BBC TV (1984).
He then, in the US again, worked on the Father Dowling Mysteries (NBC, 1989; ABC-TV, 1990-1991), as executive script consultant for the feature-length revival series of Raymond Burr's Perry Mason (CBS, 1985-1995) for which he also wrote three teleplays. He also wrote for the Dick Van Dyke mystery series Diagnosis: Murder (CBS, 1992-2001).
In 1971 he wrote and produced for Hammer films Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde and, in 1972, wrote and directed Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter (his only directorial effort). He also wrote the screenplays and/or stories for the feature films Operation Murder (1957), The Tell-Tale Heart (1960), Station Six-Sahara (1963), The Peking Medallion (1967), And Soon the Darkness (1970), See No Evil (1971), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974), The Watcher in the Woods (1980), and Highlander II: The Quickening (1991).
In 2008 Clemens wrote the play Murder Hunt, which was performed at The Mill at Sonning and starred David Monteith as Captain K'Maka, a native African policeman who has to find the murderer amongst a bunch of guests stranded at a remote safari lodge. The list of plays he helped to write and produce:
|1971||The Avengers||Terence Feely||Stage version of television show|
|1973||Dear Heart||Terence Feely||Drama||Loosely based upon life of Joe Orton|
|1975||Edge of Darkness||Drama|
|1977||Our Kid||One act Drama||Based upon the Moors Murders and Myra Hindley|
|1979||I'm Only Going to Kill her||Dennis Spooner||Comedy|
|1979||Will You Still Love Me in the Morning||Dennis Spooner||Sex comedy|
|1982||All About Murder||Thriller|
|1986||Sting in the Tale||Dennis Spooner||Drama|
|1990||Anybody for Murder?||Dennis Spooner||Drama|
|2001||The Devil at Midnight||Thriller|
Clemens married his first wife Brenda Prior in 1955, and they were divorced in 1966. From 1967, he was with the actress Diane Enright, who was Diana Rigg's stand-in as Emma Peel during the 1965-1967 Avengers series. Enright committed suicide in 1976. He then married Janet Elizabeth with whom he had two sons; they stayed together until his death.
Clemens died at home on 10 January 2015, aged 83. The cause of death was a leaking aneurism. His son said his father had died shortly after watching an episode of The Avengers, his last words were: "I did quite a good job."