SFX Issue 51

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May 1999


Brian Clemens

Brian Clemens was surprised to find an idea he came up with being credited to another writer…

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One of the lesser known chapters of UK fantasy TV history – mainly because it involves a court case – concerns the origins of the BBC’s Survivors . Is Clemens willing to shed any light on the matter now?

“Well, yes I can talk about it now because Terry [Nation] is dead,” says Clemens with typical frankness. “Terry died last year, but in the last three years I’d just written to him to say let’s bury the hatchet. And he wrote back and said, ‘I wish I’d done that’. So in his last years we were corresponding. I loved Terry. I really enjoyed working with him. He was very professional, a bit lazy, but very professional.

“Anyway, while he was working with me on the latter part of The Avengers I came up with a series called The Survivors which was about the holocaust having destroyed the world. It was a western really. I wanted to do it as a western. And I had it in mind that we do 39 episodes here and then they’d find an old plane and they’d fly it to America, and I’d hand the whole series over to Quinn Martin.

“Then I suddenly saw they were doing it on the BBC, and it was terrible. They did it ever so badly. It became a sort of tract on how to survive. Oh, it was awful. But it wasn’t that. I didn’t mind too much Terry pinching my idea, but he was so bloody lazy he didn’t even change the title. So I took him court, but nothing came of it. I suddenly realised both he and I were spending money on lawyers so I just dropped the action.

“The thing about it is, I could do it again, because I didn’t think they made the series that I wanted to do. I came up with an idea that was heroic and exciting and they bring it down to home brewing.”

Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.