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Avengers directors - from Peter Hammond to you-know-who

 
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dissolute
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2021 5:31 pm    Post subject: Avengers directors - from Peter Hammond to you-know-who Reply with quote

I've been reading through the production memos and come across this gem from Brian Tesler, dated 17th August 1965:

Quote:

'THE AVENGERS'
I think Brian Clemens' script for "THE
HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT" is absolutely first class, and should
make for a magnificent episode (unless, of course, it's directed
by you-know-who!).


Now, who do you think he's talking about? A couple memos later they're very pleased to have secured Don Leaver for a couple of the filmed episodes, but they never got Peter Hammond (although I don't know if they asked).

Another memo sows the seeds of Liz Shepherd being let go, Brian complains about how dumpy she looks in the outfits and says she needs to have clothes without a belt as one dress looked like a "hessian sack with a string around the middle", and high heels or tall boots to make her "chunky legs" look thinner.
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2021 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hammond didn't do any filmed episodes, did he? His last one was a VT episode, Build A Better Mousetrap. I wish they could've got him. Weirdly he did later (in 1977) direct a comedy called "The House that Jack Built" for the BBC! https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075516/reference
Interesting premise, each of the six episodes is set closer and closer to the present from their wedding day onwards. I don't remember it at all!

Worrying to think Liz might've been let go for lookist reasons, maybe they emphasised the writing control problems to cover that up, though to be honest people tended to speak their minds in those pre-PC days. We know Linda Thorson (and even Patrick Macnee) were put on speed diet pills to make them lose weight before/at the start of Series 7...
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mousemeat
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2021 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frankymole wrote:
Hammond didn't do any filmed episodes, did he? His last one was a VT episode, Build A Better Mousetrap. I wish they could've got him. Weirdly he did later (in 1977) direct a comedy called "The House that Jack Built" for the BBC! https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075516/reference
Interesting premise, each of the six episodes is set closer and closer to the present from their wedding day onwards. I don't remember it at all!

Worrying to think Liz might've been let go for lookist reasons, maybe they emphasised the writing control problems to cover that up, though to be honest people tended to speak their minds in those pre-PC days. We know Linda Thorson (and even Patrick Macnee) were put on speed diet pills to make them lose weight before/at the start of Series 7...


I believe Liz was let go...simply the chemistry wasn't there...i.e. acting chops, etc...don't think it was due to her 'looks'...but who knows ?

yeah, I remember reading yrs ago, about Thorson being sent off to a health clinic to lose weight, as did Macnee....
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darren
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2021 6:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Brian Clemens shared on the Brief for Murder DVD commentary - Peter Hammond was the very first director that they asked to direct when the show went to film (probably would have handled The Town of No Return) but he turned them down and just wasn't interested. A para-phrased quote Hammond said, "There is nothing that I could enjoy about the Avengers being made on film".

As he is my favourite director I am gutted that he felt that way but clearly the whole setup with rehearsals etc of the videotape episodes was what stimulated Hammond (having been an actor in film series' he knew what it would become) and he just didn't want to do that on The Avengers.
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dissolute
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2021 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, it's a great shame Hammond wasn't interested in doing The Avengers on film, luckily John Hough and Robert Fuest emulated his style a bit in their direction!

I suspect Brian is talking about Kim Mills as another memo complains about the poor direction of "Box of Tricks" but surely Mills wasn't even in the picture when they moved to film.

Maybe it's Bill Bain, he's the only dull director in series 4.
I think Roy Baker, Sidney Hayers, James Hill and Don Leaver are top notch.
Charles Crichton, Gerry O'Hara and Peter Graham Scott turn in good work but Quentin Lawrence could perhaps have done more with The Gravediggers.

I found another memo that complained about the cheap trick of speeding up the film at the end of the tag scene for "The Hour That Never Was", so Brian was on a wavelength with most of us here.
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2021 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought of Mills and Bain too. But it might not even be about their style, if it's someone great who is "difficult to work with" it might not matter how good the screen result is, if they're late/expensive/put everyone's backs up. There are a couple of auteur-type directors on some other shows I'm a fan of, whose episodes are listed among the very best by critics and fans but who the BBC/ITV staff found an absolute pain the posterior and they were never asked back.

Quentin Lawrence aka "Q" was universally loved on Catweazle so I can't imagine anyone ever said a bad word about him! Mind you, Clemens has a record of slagging people off who don't deserve it (Brian Tesler doesn't though).

Where are you finding all this paperwork? Are you going to publish any findings? (Besides here, of course!)
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darren
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2021 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just because someone goes down well on one show doesn't mean they will on another.

Gordon Flemying was removed from The Winged Avenger with Peter Duffell replacing him.

Bill Bain was an excellent multi-camera director as demonstrated on shows like Upstairs Downstairs. What the Butler Saw is adequate but I don't think Bain felt quite at ease with film.

Kim Mills got better but I never feel he had an Avengers director sensibility (sadly got too many episodes in season 3).

Charles Crichton was known for upsetting people as he was a perfectionist.

We will never know which director Tesler meant.
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2021 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

darren wrote:
Just because someone goes down well on one show doesn't mean they will on another.
No, of course not. But he was such a warm and cuddly person as well as being a brilliant organiser and a quick and efficient worker, it's hard to see why Tesler would have any issue with him let alone those working at the coal face. Especially when we know some of the others were right c**ts.

What about Peter Graham Scott? We know he was agin Liz Shepherd when working on the very earliest Emma Peel stuff. Was he regarded as friend or foe for getting most of an episode and a half rebooted?

We may get to know more, depending what Piers turns up in the memos Smile
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dissolute
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2021 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In answer to Franky, I was kindly sent several pdfs of accumulated production memos which I'm working through in preparation for further website updates.

I'm also trawling online newspaper archives, and discovering things like The Avengers was NOT exactly up against Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, it was shown 30 minutes earlier. ABC sadly switched the Avengers from Wednesdays where it was up against "The Virginian" to Mondays where it faced "I Dream of Jeannie"/"Rowan & Martin", and I guess that might have meant that people started switching over halfway through, or sticking with channel 4 from Jeannie onwards.

Here's an odd fact: "You Have Just Been Murdered" was scheduled for a repeat screening on 5 June 1968 but was switched out for Dead Man's Treasure because of the assassination of RFK.
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2021 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was born on 3 June 1968 so am always interested in stuff happening that week. TV Comic's writer and artist went to the BBC studios to see the Quarks being recorded on my birthday! That's the highlight.

Nice to hear that there are so many documents knocking about.

To be fair, I'm glad I Dream of Jeannie was shown on Channel 4 at a different time of day than The Avengers. It'd be horrendous to choose between them, I loved Larry Hagman. I pity the poor Americans at the mercy of their implacable schedulers.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2021 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frankymole wrote:
I was born on 3 June 1968 so am always interested in stuff happening that week. TV Comic's writer and artist went to the BBC studios to see the Quarks being recorded on my birthday! That's the highlight.

Nice to hear that there are so many documents knocking about.

To be fair, I'm glad I Dream of Jeannie was shown on Channel 4 at a different time of day than The Avengers. It'd be horrendous to choose between them, I loved Larry Hagman. I pity the poor Americans at the mercy of their implacable schedulers.



Ah yes, Mr. Hagman..journey man actor...who spent some years, trying to put distance between his role in I dream of jeannie...Actually, the son of Mary Martin, (south pacific, peter pan) was a lot better actor than some critics / fans, gave him credit for. In '72, he directed 'beware the Blob' a cheesy sequel (somewhat) of 1958's The BLOB...and of course, he landed the role of his career, J.R. in Dallas... he was a rare sort of acting bird
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dissolute
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2021 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Could be Peter Graham Scott, but other memos refer to his inverted shots in Master Minds positively (might have been Bryce who liked it though). Maybe Hayers? Brian didn't like Surfeit, although he disliked science fiction which seems to be the reason for that.

I was born 13 June 1968 so we're kindred spirits, Franky!
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2021 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frankymole wrote:
I was born on 3 June 1968 so am always interested in stuff happening that week. TV Comic's writer and artist went to the BBC studios to see the Quarks being recorded on my birthday! That's the highlight.

Nice to hear that there are so many documents knocking about.

To be fair, I'm glad I Dream of Jeannie was shown on Channel 4 at a different time of day than The Avengers. It'd be horrendous to choose between them, I loved Larry Hagman. I pity the poor Americans at the mercy of their implacable schedulers.


actually, as viewers, we 'Americans' had it pretty good in terms of programs to watch..ABC / CBS / NBC / PBS/ and many independent stations showing both former network shows in reruns, to indie programs..and in my part of the U.S. where I grew up, We had programming from the CBC..with lots of programming from both Canada, and the UK...so there was lots of choose from, especially if one was a TV junkie.....as for my UK counterparts, the shoe was on the other foot...as you didn't have nearly the choices of programming to ponder over..some Americans would consider it to be a cultural waste land..was it ? not really...
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2021 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mousemeat wrote:
Frankymole wrote:
I was born on 3 June 1968 so am always interested in stuff happening that week. TV Comic's writer and artist went to the BBC studios to see the Quarks being recorded on my birthday! That's the highlight.

Nice to hear that there are so many documents knocking about.

To be fair, I'm glad I Dream of Jeannie was shown on Channel 4 at a different time of day than The Avengers. It'd be horrendous to choose between them, I loved Larry Hagman. I pity the poor Americans at the mercy of their implacable schedulers.


actually, as viewers, we 'Americans' had it pretty good in terms of programs to watch..ABC / CBS / NBC / PBS/ and many independent stations showing both former network shows in reruns, to indie programs..and in my part of the U.S. where I grew up, We had programming from the CBC..with lots of programming from both Canada, and the UK...so there was lots of choose from, especially if one was a TV junkie.....as for my UK counterparts, the shoe was on the other foot...as you didn't have nearly the choices of programming to ponder over..some Americans would consider it to be a cultural waste land..was it ? not really...




To be fair, having a ton of programming to choose from, can be counter productive...for every great -or-beloved program like I dream of Jeannie, The man from UNCLE, Perry Mason, etc...you had dregs like ' My mother the Car'
' Me and the Chimp ' 'C.H.I.P.S.' etc did the UK have a similar problem ? probably not...then again, I'm sure they had their share of wretched programs as well...
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Frankymole
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2021 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dissolute wrote:

I was born 13 June 1968 so we're kindred spirits, Franky!
Haha yeah, that was clearly a good couple of weeks! They say if you can remember the 60s you weren't really there...

mousemeat wrote:

To be fair, having a ton of programming to choose from, can be counter productive...for every great -or-beloved program like I dream of Jeannie, The man from UNCLE, Perry Mason, etc...you had dregs like ' My mother the Car'
' Me and the Chimp ' 'C.H.I.P.S.' etc did the UK have a similar problem ? probably not...then again, I'm sure they had their share of wretched programs as well...
The UK's the same, it follows Sturgeon's Law that "ninety percent of everything is crap" for television, same as the States... luckily we both got some good imports from each other, which cut out a lot of the garbage...
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2021 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frankymole wrote:
dissolute wrote:

I was born 13 June 1968 so we're kindred spirits, Franky!
Haha yeah, that was clearly a good couple of weeks! They say if you can remember the 60s you weren't really there...

mousemeat wrote:

To be fair, having a ton of programming to choose from, can be counter productive...for every great -or-beloved program like I dream of Jeannie, The man from UNCLE, Perry Mason, etc...you had dregs like ' My mother the Car'
' Me and the Chimp ' 'C.H.I.P.S.' etc did the UK have a similar problem ? probably not...then again, I'm sure they had their share of wretched programs as well...
The UK's the same, it follows Sturgeon's Law that "ninety percent of everything is crap" for television, same as the States... luckily we both got some good imports from each other, which cut out a lot of the garbage...


I concur 100 %....good reply, Franky!
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