Find out more about Strictly Murder writer, Brian Clemens OBE

Wed 12 Jul


Brian 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' play, Strictly Murder, will be at the Rose from Tue 26 - Sat 30 Sep.

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.

Clemens was born in Croydon and left school aged 14 when the Second World War began. 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 was concerned about the lack of his qualifications. 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 (aka Saber of London), White Hunter, The Man from Interpol, and Richard The Lionheart.

He also wrote for ITC Entertainment's thriller series The Invisible Man, Sir Francis Drake, and Danger Man, 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 original pilot episode for The Avengers in 1961 and was the script editor, associate producer and main scriptwriter for The Avengers series 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!, but also with The Baron, The Persuaders!, The Protectors, and The Adventurer - resoundingly poking fun both at the genre they were imitating and the sources of their inspiration."

Clemens created the BBC TV sitcom, My Wife Next Door 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 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, for which he wrote all the stories as well as 38 of the scripts.
Clemens' company The Avengers Enterprises Ltd created as a French/Canadian/British co-production The New Avengers. 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.

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. However, he did write episodes for the US TV series Darkroom, Remington Steele, and Max Monroe: Loose Cannon.

Back in the UK, he worked on the BBC TV's Bergerac, the anthologies Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense and Worlds Beyond, and adapted Gavin Lyall's espionage thriller The Secret Servant as a 3-part drama for BBC TV.

He then, in the US again, worked on the Father Dowling Mysteries, as executive script consultant for the feature-length revival series of Raymond Burr's Perry Mason for which he also wrote three teleplays. He also wrote for the Dick Van Dyke mystery series Diagnosis: Murder.

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

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, The Tell-Tale Heart, Station Six-Sahara, The Peking Medallion, And Soon the Darkness, See No Evil, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, The Watcher in the Woods, and Highlander II: The Quickening.

Clemens also wrote many plays including Strictly Murder, Lover, Will You Still Love Me In The Morning?, Murder Hunt, Shock, Murder Weapon, Sherlock Holmes and The Ripper Murders, The Devil at Midnight, Our Kid, Inside Job, Without Trace, Dear Heart and Anybody for Murder.

Click here for more information about Strictly Murder and to book tickets.


View All Posts