Prolific screenwriter and producer Brian Clemens passed away over the weekend, his family confirmed to the BBC. He was 83. Clemens’ career spanned over five decades in television and film in both the UK and the U.S. But, he was perhaps most closely associated with the 1960s and 70s classic TV series, The Avengers and The Professionals.
Born in 1931 in Croydon, Clemens worked his way up from messenger boy to copywriter at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. On the side, he submitted a play to the BBC, Valid For Single Journey Only, that brought him to the attention of producers the Danziger brothers in the mid-50s. He became a staff writer for their low-budget indie outfit, churning out scripts for B movies and half-hour TV episodes, according to his BFI profile. The series included secret agent thriller Danger Man, which ran from 1960-61 and 1964-67, and starred Patrick McGoohan.
He later penned the pilot for The Avengers (1961-1969), and ultimately was the predominant writing force behind the ITV series, as well as script editor and associate producer. Patrick Macnee, Diana Rigg and Honor Blackman starred in the crime-solving mix of op-art and pop fiction in the world of espionage. He continued in TV and film throughout the 60s and 70s and revived The Avengers with The New Avengers in 1975. After that turned out to be something of a disappointment, Clemens turned to The Professionals, an anti-terrorist unit actioner he created and produced. The series ran from 1977-1983 and starred Gordon Jackson, Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins.
In the 80s, Clemens focused increasingly on U.S. television, ultimately writings scripts for such series as Remington Steele, Perry Mason and Highlander, among others. His feature credits include And Soon The Darkness (1970), See No Evil (1971), The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad (1973) and Highlander II: The Quickening (1991).
The BFI calls Clemens’ career “almost the history of the action-adventure genre of British television. His scripts have enlivened almost every action-drama series seen on television over the last 50 years.”
Sherlock exec producer, writer and star Mark Gatiss paid homage this morning: