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Questions for Roger Marshall
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Rodders
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Joined: 03 Jan 2013
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Location: Avengerland

PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The sad thing is that my father is one of the few survivors from those who were there at the birth of ITV in 1955 and he also worked in Hollywood.
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anti-clockwise
The Bird Who Wrote Too Much


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rodders wrote:
The sad thing is that my father is one of the few survivors from those who were there at the birth of ITV in 1955 and he also worked in Hollywood.
I know what you mean. he is a wealth of information. Do you know much about his Hollywood experience?

I noticed from his letter that he mentioned working in Hollywood on a show with John Kneubuhl. The significance was that shortly after they co-wrote together, they went on separately to create shows with similar types of DM's. John created the midget diabolical mastermind, Dr. Loveless, in a show called the Wild Wild West, where eccentrics thrived. That is just one example but do you know about his experience with John Kneubuhl as he was also quite a talented writer. Or any of his experiences in Hollywood?
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Rodders
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In LA he did some re-writes but also some commissions: Sea Hunt (starring Lloyd Bridges, underwater adventure series), Markam (Ray Milland private eye show).
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Rodders
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My mother told him that he either returned and married her or else she was off!
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anti-clockwise
The Bird Who Wrote Too Much


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rodders wrote:
My mother told him that he either returned and married her or else she was off!
Oh wow. End of story! Wink I took a look at part of Seahunt as your dad and Kneubuhl cowrote it. Was it hard for your dad to leave Hollywood? Obviously your mom came first. I ask as many in the entertainment industry utterly hate Hollywood.
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Rodders
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was a great experience but not one he wanted to prolong. LA is a fantasy land, like Avengerland but with too many extras.
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anti-clockwise
The Bird Who Wrote Too Much


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rodders wrote:
It was a great experience but not one he wanted to prolong. LA is a fantasy land, like Avengerland but with too many extras.
That's quite funny and true I might add. He was affiliated with USC? Was that after or before TA?
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Rodders
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

about 1959 I think, before The Avengers.
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Rodders
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sea Hunt was massive, number 1 in the US, watched by 40-50 million per week. 59% of New Yorkers watched it weekly. Apparently!
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anti-clockwise
The Bird Who Wrote Too Much


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rodders wrote:
Sea Hunt was massive, number 1 in the US, watched by 40-50 million per week. 59% of New Yorkers watched it weekly. Apparently!
Thanks. Wow amazing. I had never heard of it. I have never seen reruns. I bet it is good if your dad was involved. So your dad must have had a strong resume even in 1959 to get a teaching position at USC and work on Seahunt. Thankfully he returned to England or TA would never have been quite the same!
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mousemeat
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

anti-clockwise wrote:
Rodders wrote:
Sea Hunt was massive, number 1 in the US, watched by 40-50 million per week. 59% of New Yorkers watched it weekly. Apparently!
Thanks. Wow amazing. I had never heard of it. I have never seen reruns. I bet it is good if your dad was involved. So your dad must have had a strong resume even in 1959 to get a teaching position at USC and work on Seahunt. Thankfully he returned to England or TA would never have been quite the same!


people forget that SEAHUNT was an indie show...from ZIV studios...and wasn't apart
of ABC-CBS-NBC networks
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Rodders
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My father has asked me to pass on his best wishes for Christmas to all the fans of the show. He is delighted that we still cherish a series he wrote on so long ago.
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cyberrich
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rodders wrote:
My father has asked me to pass on his best wishes for Christmas to all the fans of the show. He is delighted that we still cherish a series he wrote on so long ago.


And wish him a Merry Christmas from all of us. Smile Does he know that The hour that never was is the fan's favourite episode of all time? Rich.
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anti-clockwise
The Bird Who Wrote Too Much


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely wish him a Merry X-mas from all of us. We are all grateful to him for the most brilliant episodes that he created. It may surprise him but they are timeless.
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hear hear, well said.

Rodders wrote:
My father has asked me to pass on his best wishes for Christmas to all the fans of the show. He is delighted that we still cherish a series he wrote on so long ago.
Thanks Rodney - I think it's getting better and better with age. I'm looking forward to having time at Christmas to watch some more. Please wish your dad a Merry Christmas from my household and thanks for all the merriment - and dramatic tension - his writing has brought; it's made it such a fun time since his work came out on DVD! The latest thing I've watched was Public Eye as I've cracked open "A Box Called Frank" (!) last night, and that was stunning. Philip Madoc and Alfie Burke turned an already golden script into pure magic, and a writer who can do that for actors is a king amongst men!

A merrier and happy Christmas to you, too.
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Rodders
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Public Eye is a favourite of his, particularly the mini-season set in Brighton once Marker is released from prison.
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the last three weeks, I've watched 26 episodes, including all the Brighton ones again. It's tremendously addictive, with the Brighton ones being a high point, although the character of Frank Marker (ably brought to life by Alfie Burke) is clearly inspired as it's what makes the show unmissable. I'll be very sorry once the series is all watched. But happy to have watched it. Absolutely top class television. Like the Avengers and Blakes 7, where is the TV with this much substance these days?
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Rodders
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a vanished age, I'm afraid, from a time when actors learned through theatre to speak properly.
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Rodders
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sadly, my father hasn't been in the best of health physically or mentally over the last year. However, he has enjoyed a better spell recently and wanted to contribute to the final volume of The Avengers on Film. I've attached our short interview recorded today.

Throughout the history of the show, only three script-writers created more than a dozen episodes: Brian Clemens, Roger Marshall and Philip Levene. Clemens and Marshall crossed the videotape/film divide and, between them, contributed half of the iconic Emma Peel monochrome season. While this final volume of The Avengers on Film relies on outsiders’ viewpoints, I wanted to take this unique opportunity to provide an Insider’s View.
What is the ‘timeless appeal’ of The Avengers? After all, there were other well-made 1960s espionage shows such as The Saint and Danger Man, yet it is The Avengers which continues to be shown on television around the world more than fifty years on.

It was more individualistic and ‘different’. It had the thrills and excitement of television drama, but also the wit and humour. It was probably the first successful mixture of thriller and comedy. At its peak its quality was unrivalled. You could always pull in a great cast, while the directors and set designers were outstanding. Getting Johnny Dankworth in to write the music was a terrific coup and then Laurie Johnson took the music to another level. Scoring individual episodes could only be done once success had arrived. Early directors such as Peter Hammond and Don Leaver created The Avengers’ in-house style, shooting through mirrors and from quirky angles. Hammond with his artistic background had a terrifically visual eye, while Leaver as an ex-actor got the best possible performances out of the cast.
What did casting a female as the co-lead add to the show?
It was the first series to do so, as simple as that. Suddenly it went in a different direction. A woman who was the intellectual and physical equal – if not superior – of her male partner… Have there been many since? I’m sure that for female viewers it added something new.
What were the advantages of the videotape era for a writer?
You were physically involved. You stayed for the rehearsals, even if the writer has to bow out at this stage. It evolved while you were watching. Sometimes you had a marvellous dress rehearsal followed by a less satisfactory ‘live’ recording. That is the ephemeral part or nature of television. Lethargy, perhaps? Or over-confidence? Nevertheless, at the recording there was an electric, ‘Cup Final’ atmosphere.
Film freed the show. How did this transform the writer’s job?
It allowed us to go location hunting, something which could lead to story material for future episodes. In the case of The Hour That Never Was it was the location which led to the plot, rather than vice versa.
What did Diana Rigg bring to the table?
She was young, fresh. She took the show in a different direction, allowing the evolution to continue.
Why was the end of the videotape era and the beginning of the monochrome filmed one arguably the artistic pinnacle of the show? What went wrong later on?
In terms of Gale and Steed, by practising you get better, in terms of the on-screen rapport; a twosome doesn’t bed in overnight. It takes time. Peel and Steed continued to develop the combination of humour and thrills. However, The Avengers was always in danger of toppling over, of the wit/drama balance being lost and of camp taking over. Which it did. It also ran out of creative energy.
Were fellow script-writers jealous of those working on The Avengers?
It was something that everyone wanted to work on – actors, directors, writers. The Avengers’ jobs tended to be ‘nailed on’; not that many people got to work on the show.
You have created your own television dramas such as Public Eye and Travelling Man, but where does The Avengers rank in your television career?
Creating your own series is the ideal scenario. However, The Avengers is right at the top. When you’ve done that on a regular basis, it is a guarantee that you can work. It was tremendous.
Was Alfred Hitchcock a big influence on The Avengers, as Brian Clemens has suggested?
Yes. Those films of his which combined humour with comedy were highly influential.
Tell me about the problems of structuring an Avengers episode?
With a half hour show such as the original Danger Man ones, it is like a three act play where you have to throw away the first act, funny as that might sound. With The Avengers it is a three act play with a ‘stinger’ required at the end of each act. The teaser is there to whet your appetite and ensure that the viewer doesn’t turn the television off or change channel.
How would you label The Avengers? Why did it survive for the entire 1960s decade?
Tongue-in-cheek drama. It continually evolved, almost by itself.

© Roger Marshall and Rodney Marshall (Telephone interview on October 7th 2015)
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Last edited by Rodders on Thu Oct 08, 2015 9:40 am; edited 1 time in total
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Andrew Pixley
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just wanted to pass my best wishes to you and your dad Rodney - sorry to hear that he's not been well.

All the best

Andrew
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