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Questions for Roger Marshall
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Rodney
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 12:41 pm    Post subject: Questions for Roger Marshall Reply with quote

As it proved popular on a previous forum, my father is happy to answer any questions about The Avengers, seasons 2 to 5 only though as these were the four eras which he worked on.
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Rodney
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I should add, though, that non-Avengers questions are best asked elsewhere and there will be a delay in responses as my father does not use the computer so I have to relay questions by telephone.
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Dandy Forsdyke
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't remember if I ever asked you this, but has your father ever looked at some of the pages on the Internet. I know you've said that he doesn't use the computer, but have you ever shown him, say, The Avengers Forever website or others? Or printed pages off for him?

Thanks for starting this thread up again.
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Allard
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I do have a question, about character development.
How did (for instance) the character of Mrs. Peel became what she is? Or how did the "old Steed" turn into the "new Steed"? Did the writers came up with the personalities or were they given instructions (by whom?) what the characters should be like?
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

May I ask a question?

There are photos (possibly staged) of some of the early series writers, producers or editors chatting together in the studio - and media articles from the time implying that this was a TV series with a younger, savvier crew who were trying new ways of collaborative working, truly exploiting the new medium of TV action series (in a way that would make the "theatre on camera" of more staid, BBC-type productions seem increasingly dated through the 1960s).

My question is: did your father feel that there was a greater "team ethos" between directors, designers, and writers, or was it still a fairly lonesome process to produce a script, in isolation until it was ready and the crew and cast could be let loose on it? Just how much of a collaborative atmosphere was there, to produce a single series with, for sure, individualistic storylines (more than any other series, perhaps) but an idenitifable "feel" and style that ran through all of the TV presentations? Was there any pressure on your father to 'reveal' his working drafts or was he allowed to come up with whatever he wanted as a script and then have it accepted or rejected? Did the cast ever ask for lines to be added/removed, or suggest changes? Finally, did he have to do synopses or storylines before developing a full script, and were there constraints due to budget restrictions or casting (un)availability?

Did your father like writing "action sequences" (fights, chases etc) - or did he think the more cerebral, studio-bound scenes worked best?

Sorry if that sounds vague - happy to provide clarification. I would just like to know how "freewheeling" the Avengers was compared to other, less imaginative and less "hip" series.
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Rodney
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the Gale era, once Richard Bates became script editor, writers were given almost complete freedom to write what they wanted. There were obvious limitations given the nature of 'live' videotaping but writers produced three act plays, as it were. There was no pressure to provide continuity from one episode to another nor were any character traits etc forced on writers. One benefit of videotaping was that the writers were there for rehearsals so they could be asked questions by the director and actors. It was a close knit group and most of the people working on the show were in their mid to late twenties.
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Rodney
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Rigg era early on had much in common with Season 3 in terms of writers' freedom although the nature of film meant that writers were rarely on hand to offer support during production. However, with Bates now gone there was some tampering with scripts and writers were asked to 'simplify' plots for the American market! My father didn't like that as he was always more comfortable with well researched plots. The quality of the direction dropped and if you compare original scripts with the finished product some directors eradicated subtlety. Look at the quality of the direction of two of my father's episodes - Dial a Deadly Number and The Hour that Never Was - and you can see the extra finesse and intelligence that Leaver and O'Hara offered. Neither was invited back for the colour season...an unbelievably stupid decision.
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Rodney
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the early days writers had to send in a 'treatment' and then scripts were either comissioned or not. However, by 1965 my father was well enough established to be offered episodes and there was no pre-instruction. The 65 season works so well because every writer had his particular strength: Levene was sci-fi, my father was the world of finance or the forces, Williamson offered something not dissimilar while Clemens alternated between the genuinely frightening or the OTT self-parody. By commissioning a particular writer, they knew - vaguely speaking - what type or genre of writing they would be getting.
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Rodney
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My father has seen the TAF website and I have printed off pages for him. He finds the continued interest both strange but gratifying at the same time.
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Rodney
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The progression of Steed from the 'old' one to the 'new'. That's a difficult question. My father thinks that it was down to Macnee more than anyone else. Steed's relationship with Mrs Gale worked well when they were verbally battling with each other and Steed had an edge to him. However, although the first few Mrs Peel episodes followed similar lines (The Murder Market and The Town of No Return for example) Macnee preferred chanelling the energy and rapport between him and Rigg into humorous sparring. Arguably the Steed who burns the edges of Piggy Warren's moustache has disappeared later in the season. He slowly becomes more gentile or refined, mirroring his changing costume. He doesn't even bother flirting with her as much in colour.
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Rodney
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After Saturday I will be away in France for ten days so any delay in response to questions posed is simply that: a delay. One of my father's regrets with the show is that everyone - including him - followed the party line in terms of comments in the press and books and on 'making of' sections of dvds. The truth has rarely been revealed about key moments in the show's history e.g. why Liz Shepherd was axed. He hopes that one day all can be revealed!
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Rodney
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The chemistry between Steed and Mrs Gale and Steed and Mrs Peel was created as much by the actors themselves as by the scripts.
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Rodney
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 1:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was Macnee's idea that Steed should call Miss King 'Tara' and that his relationship with her should be more protective than it was in the previous eras. You would never have got him calling either Cathy or Emma 'vulnerable'.
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Timeless A-Peel
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rodney wrote:
It was Macnee's idea that Steed should call Miss King 'Tara' and that his relationship with her should be more protective than it was in the previous eras. You would never have got him calling either Cathy or Emma 'vulnerable'.


Really? I knew he decided to play it differently, but I didn't know he was the one to decide to call her "Tara" (he sort of alternates, sometimes using Miss King). It's funny how a small detail like that changes how you view their relationship in contrast to the one he had with Emma.
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Dandy Forsdyke
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Timeless A-Peel wrote:


Really? I knew he decided to play it differently, but I didn't know he was the one to decide to call her "Tara" (he sort of alternates, sometimes using Miss King). It's funny how a small detail like that changes how you view their relationship in contrast to the one he had with Emma.


I think Steed only ever used 'Miss King' in the Bryce episodes.
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Timeless A-Peel
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dandy Forsdyke wrote:
Timeless A-Peel wrote:


Really? I knew he decided to play it differently, but I didn't know he was the one to decide to call her "Tara" (he sort of alternates, sometimes using Miss King). It's funny how a small detail like that changes how you view their relationship in contrast to the one he had with Emma.


I think Steed only ever used 'Miss King' in the Bryce episodes.


Did he? It's been awhile, and I quite keeping track after a bit, so that's entirely possible. I just remember that after Mrs. Gale/Peel, "Tara" came as a bit of a surprise. I suppose if Linda hadn't nixed being "Mrs." King we wouldn't have had a change at all.
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Dandy Forsdyke
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Timeless A-Peel wrote:
I suppose if Linda hadn't nixed being "Mrs." King we wouldn't have had a change at all.


Yes, Linda Thorson says that doesn't she? I don't buy it...
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Timeless A-Peel
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dandy Forsdyke wrote:
Timeless A-Peel wrote:
I suppose if Linda hadn't nixed being "Mrs." King we wouldn't have had a change at all.


Yes, Linda Thorson says that doesn't she? I don't buy it...


I think it's possible. The attitude was still such that it was a bit dicey to have a single female character hanging around with a guy she wasn't married to, so I can see them trying to foist the "Mrs." mantle off on Tara, too. What I don't buy is that they planned on giving Tara a living/present husband, which is what Linda seems to say. I can't see them writing that into the show at all.
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Rodney
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The actress simply wasn't old enough to be a believable 'Mrs' although ironically she had already been married in real life! Perhaps it made a welcome change to have a different type of relationship although I'm not sure that Steed would have got away with bottom smacking Gale or Peel!
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rodney wrote:
The actress simply wasn't old enough to be a believable 'Mrs' although ironically she had already been married in real life! Perhaps it made a welcome change to have a different type of relationship although I'm not sure that Steed would have got away with bottom smacking Gale or Peel!


It did make sense to give Steed a single partner at some point. Otherwise it would have started to look like he had some sort of widow fetish. Wink The bottom-smacking always stick in my craw a little, to tell you the truth--it seems out of place somehow. But didn't he smack Emma's bottom with a fencing foil in The Town of No Return?
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