Brian Clemens

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Brian Clemens
Born Brian Horace Clemens
(1931-07-30)30 July 1931
Croydon, London, England
Died 10 January 2015(2015-01-10) (aged 83)
Occupation Film and television producer, screenwriter
Spouse(s) Janet Elizabeth Clemens (1979–2015)
Children 2

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.[1][2]

Early life and career[edit]

Clemens was born in Croydon, London.[3] His father was an engineer, but also worked in music halls.[2] Clemens left school aged 14.[4]

Following National Service in the British Army at Aldershot,[5] where he was a weapons training instructor in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps,[4] 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 Northern English 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.[4] Instead, he worked his way up from messenger boy at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency.[5] While he was a copywriter there, he had a thriller screenplay accepted and shot by BBC TV - Valid for Single Journey Only (1955).[4] This brought him to the attention of independent, low-budget movie producers, the Danziger brothers.[5]

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).[5]

However, 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),[5] for which he had also written the pilot.[2] His output was so prolific during the late 50s and throughout the 1960s that he frequently used the pseudonym Tony O'Grady.

Television success[edit]

He wrote the original pilot episode for The Avengers in 1961[4] and was the script editor, associate producer and main scriptwriter for The Avengers series[5] (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."[5]

It was Clemens who cast Diana Rigg to replace original 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."[4] He did not choose Linda Thorson to replace Rigg.[4]

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.

He followed this with a twist-in-the-tail anthology series Thriller (ITV 1973-1976; aka Menace), for which he wrote all the stories as well as 38 of the scripts.[4]

Then Clemens company The Avengers (Film and TV) Enterprises Ltd[4] created as a French/Canadian/British co-production[5] The 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.[4] To cast the central female role of Purdey, Clemens considered "about 700 girls", interviewed 200, read scripts with 40 and screen-tested 15[4] before choosing Joanna Lumley. His company Avengers Mark One Productions went on to produce The Professionals (ITV, 1977–1983).[5]

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[5] but neither version materialised. 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).[5]

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).[5]

He also wrote for the Bugs TV series in the UK (BBC, 1995–1999) and Highlander: The Series in the US. Clemens' final credit was for Jane Doe: How To Fire Your Boss in 2007.

Feature films[edit]

In 1971 he wrote and produced for Hammer films Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde and, in 1974, 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).[6]


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.[7]

List of plays[edit]

Year Title Collaboration Genre Notes
1971 The Avengers Terence Feely Stage version of television show
1972 Lover Thriller
1972 Shock! Thriller
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
1993 Inside Job Thriller
2001 The Devil at Midnight Thriller
Without Trace
2006 Strictly Murder Thriller
2012 Murder Weapon Thriller

Reference [8]

Court case[edit]

In a British High Court of Justice case in the mid-1970s, which was abandoned by both sides due to escalating costs, Clemens claimed that he had told writer Terry Nation the concept for Nation's 1975 TV series Survivors in the late 1960s and had registered the idea with the Writers' Guild of Great Britain in 1965.[9] Nation strenuously denied this.

Personal life[edit]

Clemens and his wife Brenda were divorced in 1966.[4] 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.[4]

Clemens was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours.[10] Clemens died on 10 January 2015, aged 83.[11]

Selected filmography[edit]


External links[edit]