TV Cream

A bit of business

Clemens time

Brian Clemens is the subject of a season of screenings at the British Film Institute on the South Bank in London, beginning on 2 July.

The man responsible for the story behind Highland II: The Quickening, the teleplay for Perry Mason: The Case of the Heartbroken Bride and a whole six episodes of Father Dowling Investigates is getting a month-sized doff of the hat in the shape of a line-up that – perhaps wisely – contains none of those offerings.

Instead if you’re in London or the south east (as Simon Groom used to say), there are episodes of The Avengers, The New Avengers, Danger Man, Adam Adamant Lives, The Professionals, The Invisible Man and Thriller to enjoy.

There are also screenings of Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter and numerous extremely rare offerings from the BFI’s vaults (which we like to think are Clemens-esque in their size and furnishings, including plush carpets and a steam-powered organ).

The man himself is scheduled to make two appearances, one to talk specifically about The Avengers (22 July) and then to roam back over his entire career (28 July).

You can find full details of all events, and how to book tickets, on the BFI website.



  1. Mr Grimsdale

    June 21, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Surely one of the great unknown heroes of of 1960s-70s television. How may times, as a kid, have I watched opening titles or end credits of a programme and seen Brian Clemens’ name appear. He seemed to be responsible for everything on ITV in the second half of the 60s.

  2. Cindylover1969

    June 27, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    “The Complete Mission: Impossible Dossier” – one of the best TV books ever – has a story where several UK TV writers were hunted up to write for the show; I’ve always wondered if Brian Clemens was one of them. (For the record, the only Brits who *did* make the cut were Donald James and Leigh Vance – unsurprisingly both had plenty of experience with ITC shows, and Vance [unlike James, whose “Mission: Impossible” episode would be his only American TV work] ultimately went on to spend the rest of his career across the pond.)

    Clemens also worked on shortlived-but-not-bad anthology series “Darkroom” and co-wrote the TV movie “The Woman Hunter” (in which Barbara Eden heads to Mexico on the run from Robert Vaughn. Despite having the credit “Teleplay by Brian Clemens and Tony Williamson; Story by Brian Clemens”, not made by ITC but rather by Bing Crosby Productions).

  3. George White

    March 27, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    He does reveal on a commentary for the New Avengers he was offered to do an episode of Mission Impossible, but was too busy.

  4. Richardpd

    March 29, 2024 at 10:47 pm

    A few other British writers moved to Hollywood, In spite of writing lots of episodes of ITC shows it didn’t work out for Dennis Spooner.

    Terry Nation was more successful, though he made the move in the 1980s when he felt Blake’s 7 had run it’s course.

    Roger Price was headhunted by Nickelodeon around the time he was tiring of working on The Tomorrow People.

    Chris Carter tried to get Nigel Kneale out of retirement to write episodes of The X-Files.

  5. George White

    March 30, 2024 at 11:22 am

    Norman Hudis and Pat ‘father of Lesley’ Dunlop also made it out west.
    Jimmy Sangster too.
    There’s the weird case of Michael Sloan, American-born but British-raised, began as a Rentayank bit parter in the likes of the Persuaders, begins writing and producing exploitation films in England, then submits a Columbo – Now You See Him (the Jack Cassidy Nazi magician one), and then goes off to LA, initially begins writing Briddish eps of the likes of McCloud and the Hardy Boys, then works on Battlestar, creates the Equalizer… Also wrote the English version of Star Fleet.

  6. Richardpd

    March 30, 2024 at 2:33 pm

    That’s interesting to know, Norman Hudis wrote many of the early Carry Ons.

    I think Michael Sloan has been mentioned somewhere, being able to both act & write on both sides of the Atlantic.

  7. George White

    March 31, 2024 at 9:27 am

    There’s also the phenom in the 50s of BBC and ITV plays being licenced out and re-adapted (often with the UK settings intact) for US TV.

    Arguably all US films/TV versions of Dial M for Murder, initially mounted as a BBC TV play.
    Eddie (1958, Mickey Rooney NBC Alcoa Theatre) – a remake of the BBC play Sammy (later extended as the Small World of Sammy Lee)
    The Crooked Hearts (1972 – ABC/Lorimar TVM based on the Colin Watson Insp. Purbright novels but Americanised – actually predates Murder Most English by five years)
    Mitchell (1975) – a film adaptation of the Euston Armchair Theatre Detective Waiting, Joe Don Baker replacing Richard Beckinsale.
    Beacon Hill (CBS, 1975) – Upstairs Downstairs.
    Jennifer – A Woman’s Story (1979 – NBC/ITC/Universal) – remake of the 1978 ATV soap the Foundation. Though ITC, the film aired on BBC One. Clearly a pilot (Kate Mulgrew and Doris Roberts are billed as guest stars), but Elizabeth Montgomery didn’t want to do another series post-Bewitched.
    Pennies from Heaven (1981) – film of the 1978 BBC series.

    The CBS US Steel Hour Hour of the Rat is based on an ITV Television Playwright, keeping the British setting.Another Jon Manchip White play, the BBC Saturday Playhouse the Colonel was adapted as US Steel Hour the Double Edge Sword.
    This Day in Fear, an ep of Television Playwright by Malcolm Hulke was adapted for the CBS US Steel Hour. It sounds really interesting, about an Irish civil war veteran (Patrick McGoohan on BBC, Barry Sullivan in CBS) on the run in London. Also with Billie Whitelaw/Geraldine Brooks, Kevin Stoney/William Harrigan (the duff hero of the Invisible Man), Donal Donnelly/Donald Moffat, Larry Burns/Barry Morse

    The Alfred Hitchcock Presents I Spy (1962, NBC), the only ep made in Britain was based on a John Mortimer radio play, originally put on the BBC in 1957, and later staged in 1958 as a BBC TV play with Brenda Bruce and Donald Pleasence in the roles played by Kay Walsh and Eric Barker.

    We Must Kill Toni (1956), another CBS Steel Hour by Ian Stuart Black was based on an 1951 BBC TV play. It featured Fritz Weaver and Norman Lloyd in the parts then played by Alfred Marks and Bob Monkhouse in the 1962 film adap, She’ll Have to Go. There was also an earlier January1956 CBC General Motors Presents version with Donald Pleasence and Patrick Macnee as the brothers (one of those castings which makes far more sense when you note how similar their voices were).
    Weirdly, the next US Steel Hour, Bang the Drum Slowly with Paul Newman, was also turned into a film… with Robert de Niro.
    The cbs 1962 US Steel Hour Scene of the Crime was based on ‘a British teleplay’ by Brian Clemens, possibly Theatre 70 – Full Circle (ITV – 1960)

    Nigel Kneale’s BBC Sunday Night Theatre Mrs Wickens in the Fall became the CBS Steel Hour The Littlest Enemy (1958)

    The 1966 NBC Bob Hope Chrysler Theatre/Theatre of Stars The Fatal Mistake is based on the ATV-produced ITV Sunday Night Drama Suspense Hour (a continuation of Armchair Mystery Theatre) Nightmare in Installments. Some names are changed from the original.

    Ronald Fraser as Harry Best, while Roddy McDowall plays Harry Carlin, Charles Tingwell as Donald Wedderburn, while Arthur Hill plays Donald Hammond, Jane Hylton plays Nancy Wedderburn and Marge Redmond plays Nancy Hammond, while Judy Geeson’s daughter is called Lesley and Alice Rawlings’ version is Julia. John Barrett and Gil Stuart both play ‘Campbell’. Hamilton Dyce and Lawrence Naismith both play Knight.
    I suppose that’s why the US version resembles a Universal backlot Crossroads.

    Also by the same writer, Jacques Gillies, his BBC play You Can’t Escape (1961) was adapted for the CBS US Steel Hour in 1963, with a young Gene Hackman.

    Gillies’ ITV/ATV play Drama ’61 – The Takers (1961) was adapted as a 1963 NBC Dupont Show of the Week, with Claude Rains as Guy Deghy, Walter Matthau as Donald Houston, Larry Hagman as Kenneth Cope, William Hansen as Patrick Wymark…

    The NBC Dupont Show of the Week also adapted in 1963 the BBC Troy Kennedy Martin play the Interrogator (1961), retaining the British in Cyprus setting, with John Mills as his Dunkirk costar Bernard Lee, Robert Loggia as Sean Lynch, Murray Matheson as Conrad Phillips and Gene Wilder as Ian McNaughton.

    Suspicion – Rainy Day (NBC/Revue/MCA, 1957) – George Cole in a rare US role appears in this Hitchcock adaptation of a Michael Pertwee BBC play of the Maugham story (initially done on the BBC live, again with Cole hence him being brought over to Revue’s then pre-Universal base in the former Republic Studios) listening to a BBC Christmas service, drunk in a paper crown. Seemingly unaired in Britain.

    CBS’ Kraft Mystery Theatre – Dead on Nine (1959) a remake of ITV Play of the Week – Dead on Nine (1957), itself a restaging of a play from earlier in the year, with Griffith Jones reprising his original stage role.

  8. Richardpd

    March 31, 2024 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks, I hadn’t heard to most of those!

    I’ve mentioned about the American version of Pennies from Heaven on it’s own entry, supposedly Dennis Potter got fed up with how many re-writes he had to do to the screenplay, & was seemingly put off having any more of his dramas adapted as films. The Singing Detective was done only years after his death.

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