November 27, 2015

FERGUS FLEMING INTERVIEW

Exclusive Interview: Fergus Fleming. One of the highlights of the summer was spending time with writer Fergus Fleming (Ian Fleming's nephew) and hearing about his new anthology of his uncle's James Bond-related letters. The Man With the Golden Typewriter contains numerous unpublished letters by Ian Fleming, which have been sourced from the Fleming Archive, the Cape Archive and private collections from around the world. I've been waiting eagerly for his book for many years and am so excited to see Fergus completing the task and keeping the project within the family. Bloomsbury kindly sponsored a contest here last month and three lucky readers won signed editions of the book. Fergus stopped by the Spy Vibe lair this week to chat about the project and about his uncle, Ian Fleming. Welcome, Fergus!


I’m curious to hear about your own and the family’s perception of Ian as a man. What was he like in person and as an uncle?

I have no personal recollection of Ian – he died when I was five – but I believe he was much liked in the family. Those who knew him remember his sense of fun, his kindness (apparently he was very good with children) and the glamour of seeing a Ford Thunderbird parked outside their house. But above all, they recall his generosity. If you were down on your luck Ian would give you his last penny.

All the same, I’m not sure my father thought much of Ian’s books at the time. He made my mother wrap The Spy Who Loved Me in brown paper lest she be seen reading such a scurrilous tract in public. Ian was so delighted when he heard of this that he used her name, Charmian, for Bond’s aunt. 


Authors often reveal more about themselves in writing and through correspondences. Did Ian’s letters show sides of his personality that expanded your perception of him?

Ian addressed matters in a straightforward fashion, but liked to finish on an upbeat note. It was a characteristic he shared with his brothers Richard and Peter, so no surprises there. Perhaps most revealing was that he didn’t fit the popular image. He has acquired a reputation for being a flesh and blood version of James Bond: suave, troubled, hard-living and with a touch of cruelty. Maybe he was. But his letters show a decent man: hard-working, consistently courteous and with an eye to making a living the best way he knew – from his words.

Ian’s travel and thriller writing is filled with sensory observations. Were you able to witness his attention to such detail in person or through his letters?

Ian’s mind moved to a different space when he was writing books – he concentrated on the story, the colour and making the pages turn. This doesn’t come across in the letters, though a lot of ancillary Bond detail does.


Your book examines the creation of each of the Bond novels. How do the letters reveal Ian’s effort’s to shape the character over time?

While some critics described Bond as a cardboard figure, Ian thought of him more as a blunt instrument. I think he has greater depth than either description allows. But Ian certainly worried how to keep the books fresh. He succeeded in doing so and seemed to enjoy the pressure. Two of his most vivid books – OHMSS and YOLT – were written after his heart attack in 1961 when, to use his own words, ‘the tomb yawned.’

The one character who can be described as having a literary progression is Blofeld, to whom Ian gave his own birthday, and who he killed off in his penultimate novel. Make of that what you will!

Did the letters reveal any plans for James Bond projects that were never realized?

Nothing specific that I can recall. He did drop a vague hint that he might send Bond to Australia, but maybe that was just a politeness to an Australian fan.

Ian perhaps showed a bit of a rebellious nature through his tastes in music, his life in Jamaica, and by rejecting tradition at various times in his life. He (to a lesser degree), peter, and you all became travel writers. How would you describe what may be a family trend to embrace ethnic cultures and non-traditional experiences?

Yes, Ian was rebellious but he railed against aspects of British society rather than Britain itself.  While deeply patriotic he deplored falseness, hypocrisy and all attempts to standardise life.

As to any similarity between myself, Ian and Peter, I would say only that we seem to enjoy words, the telling of a tale and have an affinity for the unusual. 

If you’re interested in Ian’s musical preferences he wrote to one fan –with reference to Diamonds Are Forever - that he often played George Feyer’s VOX 500 piano album, ‘Echoes in Paris’. 


I’m fascinated by the final years of Ian’s life (I’d love to write a film for Geoffrey Rush in the role). Although Ian seemed thick-skinned enough to push Bond into success, he also seemed heavily weathered by personal and professional circumstances in the end. What do his letters reveal about this period? Did you have a sense of him in person during that time?

He was very ill towards the end, and some of his letters give a hint that he was struggling. But he continued to write as best he could and refused to be an invalid. When he attended his mother’s funeral in 1964 (only a few weeks before others would gather for his own) he was told the doctors wouldn’t like him asking for a gin and tonic. ‘Fuck the doctors,’ he replied.

Geoffrey Rush is an interesting thought!


Ian's early books seemed to stem from a well-established tradition of thrillers. Did you notice elements in his books that reflected signs of change in post-war Britain? 

I wouldn’t say Ian’s novels relied on an established tradition. Or if they did, then he adapted it to suit the times. He was the first to do so many things that are now part and parcel of modern thrillerdom.

His early attempts at fiction owe a debt to German-language writers of the 1920s. He was a self-confessed admirer of Leo Perutz and quite likely would have encountered the works of Joseph Roth and Stefan Zweig. It could be argued that his novels carry a trace of their fatalism. But although he read omnivorously I believe he was influenced more by real life than fiction. Apart from his period at Naval Intelligence, he observed, lived with, and was brought up in, a world of such physical intrigue and colour that our current emphasis on digital espionage looks pallid by comparison. 


Have you heard if Ian had any impressions about TV series like The Avengers or Danger Man?

Ian’s letters reveal very little about his TV habits. He was keen to have Bond adapted for the small screen, and on one occasion he succeeded: during the 1950s  ‘Jimmy Bond’ made a brief appearance in Casino Royale. But he put this ambition aside when the large screen loomed.

I would be so curious to see an exhibit of artifacts from Ian’s life. What happened to his record collection? Are items like his cigarette holder archived?

Very few of Ian’s possessions seem to have survived.

What upcoming projects are next on the horizon for you or from Ian Fleming Publications?

Ian Fleming Publications works hard to promote Ian’s literary legacy. And that is all I am at liberty to divulge!


Thank you, Fergus. We will look forward to future announcements! Spy Vibers can order The Man With the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming's James Bond Letters at AmazonUK and Amazon. Selected related posts: Fleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanIan Fleming: Wicked GrinIan Fleming MemorialThai Bond DesignBond vs Modernism, The Goldfinger VariationsDouble 007 Book DesignsDouble 007 designs IIrare Ian Fleming editionBook Design DopplegangersTurkish Bond designErno Goldfinger, Ian Fleming CatalogJon Gilbert interview, Double 007 Designs, Fleming's Royal gold typewriterDavid Tennant Reads Chitty Chitty Bang BangSpy Vibe's Ian Fleming archive on Pinterest. Enjoy!

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November 25, 2015

AVENGERS: ALAN HAYES INTERVIEW

Avengers Interview: Alan Hayes. Spy Vibers may know Alan Hayes from his previous books about The Avengers and for his contributions to The Avengers DVD and Blu-ray sets overseas. Alan is a fellow pop culture scholar and writer, who often works alongside his wife Alys in their secret UK base. We enjoyed some summer missions together to visit filming locations from The Avengers, The Saint, The Champions, and many other classic series (stay tuned for more photographs). Alan stopped by the Spy Vibe lair this week to tell us about a new Avengers book that was just released called Two Against the Underworld. Alan, welcome to Spy Vibe!


Two Against the Underworld compiles some work from two previous volumes. Can you tell us more about the content of the new book?

Essentially, it’s the content of The Strange Case of the Missing Episodes and With Umbrella, Scotch and Cigarettes combined and updated. Both books – written by myself with Richard McGinlay and Alys Hayes - concentrated on the debut season of The Avengers, but each homed in on particular aspects: the first covered the narratives and the missing episodes angle (only two episodes survive complete from 26), while the second focused on production information, plus details of transmission, personnel and reception. What we’ve done is to interweave the content of both books to produce a single book that takes the reader on a journey from the creation of the series, through its first year, towards to setting up of the second season, which would of course introduce Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale. (Previous book covers below)


What are some of the details you were able to update for this edition?

There’s quite a lot that we’ve been able to update, in fact. For starters, we have been careful to correct inaccuracies that were found in the original books and have also taken heed of feedback received. Some commentators bemoaned the lack of story synopses in The Strange Case of the Missing Episodes for the two surviving Series 1 episodes, Girl on the Trapeze and The Frighteners, and detailed summaries have consequently been added to the new edition. We have also taken the opportunity to check through the existing synopses, paying special attention to the nine scriptless episodes (Nightmare, Crescent Moon, Diamond Cut Diamond, Hunt the Man Down, Death on the Slipway, Tunnel of Fear, The Far Distant Dead, The Deadly Air and Dragonsfield).

In the episode guide section, we have revised and augmented production information and other subsections, where appropriate. We have also firmed up the information we presented in With Umbrella, Scotch and Cigarettes concerning how the episodes were seen in the Republic of Ireland in 1961. In the essays, we have added fresh information about One-Ten, Ian Hendry’s marriage to Janet Munro, and significant details about the missing episodes, particularly in terms of potential foreign sales of Series 1, overseas distribution, and the fate of the ABC archive. We have also updated the Merchandise Guide to bring it bang up to date to include details about the 2015 Blu-ray, DVD and CD releases. Finally, there is a short essay which looks at how Ian Hendry’s departure between seasons affected the long-term future of the series, and this is completely new. Despite the cutting of large amounts of text that were present in both the original books, the word count has actually risen, too.


The lost first series of The Avengers is one of those holy grails we wish could be discovered in an abandoned station overseas. Tell us how your team approaches research. Are you able to draw to draw on company records, interviews, etc?

Well, we’ve been very lucky in that we’ve been granted access to ABC Television scripts and documentation pertaining to the series, and have also been able to study story outlines and other paperwork at the British Film Institute’s Reuben Library in central London. We have also made reference to the archives of newspapers and journals and have had the co-operation of series personnel, archive television organisations and Avengers enthusiasts, all of whom have helped to bring the story of the show’s first year into sharp focus.

Spy Vibers know The Avengers well, particularly the Diana Rigg seasons. What are some of the key elements of the show that were there right from the beginning?

The funny thing about those later series is that the viewer just accepts the show for what it is, and rarely thinks to ask “how did The Avengers become Avengers?” – and it is in this first series that the flashpoint happens, the incident that brings John Steed into the life of a seemingly ordinary London doctor. Thanks to the surviving footage from the very first episode, we get to see the reason that The Avengers get together, even if we don’t see John Steed, who first appeared in Act Two of this episode, which along with the third, remaining missing. Over the first year, a buddy-buddy relationship develops, having started with mistrust. The stories are definitely grittier, even perhaps than the other videotape era shows, and their subject matter is often more “film noir” than typical Avengers fare, though it is most often laced with humour. However, among the stories about protection rackets, prostitution, food poisoning and drug smuggling, there were also visits to Avengerish locales – the circus, a private zoo, research establishments, and even a dance school (shades of Quick-Quick Slow Death!). Additionally, towards the end of the first run, the series leans more and more heavily towards science fiction ideas in stories such as The Deadly Air, Dead of Winter and Dragonsfield. And these tales are all related in extended synopsis form in Two Against the Underworld, offering readers the opportunity to experience episodes that haven’t aired anywhere since 1961.


How about major turning points that opened the doors for the series to evolve?

The first of these is undoubtedly the gradual change in Steed from a shady, hard to trust manipulator to the gentleman spy of later seasons, and this transformation begins during the first year. However, the most important turning point didn’t even happen on screen. When an actors’ strike brought production on Series 1 to a halt in late 1961, the series lost the services of its main star – Ian Hendry (that’s right, Patrick Macnee was not top billed). This departure cast an uncertainty over the series’ future, and the ramifications on the series’ destiny are explored in the new essay that I’ve mentioned previously.


What are some of your favorite discoveries while researching the early days of The Avengers?

One that springs to mind is a remarkably bizarre and amusing exchange that we discovered in ABC correspondence concerning foreign sales to Lebanon. This information is again new to this book. We were also able to dig a little deeper into the missing episodes question, and this is something we all find fascinating. Other than that, it’s the fact that these episodes are, in the main, probably lost forever that makes researching this ‘lost year’ of The Avengers so rewarding and endlessly intriguing. All the other seasons are retained complete in television archives, have been released on VHS, DVD and now even Blu-ray, which is of course wonderful, but the ease of access we have to those episodes make them somehow less exciting, in terms of wanting to research them. Researching Series 1 was a great challenge, through which we wanted to remove the shroud of mystery that has for decades hung over these episodes, and being able to do that has been, without a doubt, our favourite thing about the process. Through a succession of discoveries, some small, some large, we’ve been able to present what we believe is the clearest picture yet of the programme that aired in the dim, distant days of 1961, never to be seen again.

Where can readers find the book? Is it available in hardcover, softcover, and ebook editions?

The book is currently available via Hidden Tiger – www.hiddentigerbooks.co.uk – with checkout and delivery via Lulu.com. Readers might be able to save 15% by using the sale codeword: FWD15. It is currently available in dust-jacketed hardcover and perfect bound softcover editions. The paperback will be available from Amazon sites within one month and a Kindle ebook will follow in the New Year.


What projects are next on the horizon for you?

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on another Avengers project, this one spanning the full series, called Avengerworld. This is a charity project comprising something in the region of 40 essays, written by Avengers fans around the world [Spy Vibe's Jason Whiton contributed the Afterword], on the theme “The Avengers in my life”. Judging by the high standard of essays received thus far, this will not only be an entertaining read, it will also relate some anecdotes and information that will be of great interest to fans of the series.

Also nearing completion is a follow-up book to Two Against the Underworld, which – typically for us – is a prequel rather than a sequel! It will bring to life another mostly missing British television series, Police Surgeon, which was the show that directly preceded The Avengers and also starred Ian Hendry. For this book, we’ve been granted access to the 11 surviving scripts and have had the assistance of several people involved in the production of the series. This should be ready in the early months of 2016, all things going to plan!

Sounds exciting! With the influence of The Avengers still resonating throughout popular culture and fashion, I'm happy to know you are digging further into the records to shed more light on this transformative period. Thanks, Alan! I look forward to chatting more about the next releases. 



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November 22, 2015

JAZ WISEMAN INTERVIEW

Interview: Jaz Wiseman. If you are a fan of The Avengers, Danger Man, The BaronThe Persuaders!, and many other classic spy series from the 1960s and 1970s, chances are you have enjoyed the work of Jaz Wiseman. He's been the man behind the curtain, as it were, and his efforts to preserve and document these British programs has left a wondrous trail of DVD and Blu-ray box sets, cast/crew interviews and commentary, soundtrack recordings, and numerous publications. Jazz has three books available now on Lulu, which are also currently on sale! Buyers can get 25% off through November 23rd with the sale code: SHOP25 (case sensitive). It's a great time to pick up his two excellent volumes of The Morning After (containing interviews, news and commentary about The Persuaders! and other shows) and his new book covering the history of The Persuaders! trading card collection. Jazz joined us in the Spy Vibe lair this week to tell us more about the new books and his various projects. Welcome, Jaz Wiseman!


Tell us more about the original Persuaders! card set. When was it produced? Was it available outside of the UK?

The Persuaders! gum cards were produced by the Dutch company Monty Factories in 1971. The set was made up of 97 colour cards and they were available in the UK, France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany. The set was also licensed in Israel but I’m unsure if these were printed at the factory in The Netherlands or in Israel itself.




Do the cards contain images of any scenes that were cut from transmission? What are some of your favorite cards?

The cards don’t contain any cut scenes but there a number from rehearsal scenes that I have identified in the accompanying captions. There are also some nice publicity photos taken on set that were for the German TV magazine Bravo. I think these will be interesting to fans as they are unusual.

What are some of the bonus images included in the book such as card wrappers, backing images, etc?

The book includes images of the front and back covers of the collectors album plus the two pages of the stars that are inside the album. The wrapper front and back and the distributor box that contained 200 gum packs are also included. In 1976, Monty produced a set of 100 cards called The Cops that included 15 cards from The Persuaders!. Also included are the four silver foil cards that were issued as part of a larger 55 card set that featured popular TV series, popstars and film stars. Individual cards were given away packets of biscuits in Belgium during a promotional campaign in 1971/72.

What are the dimensions of the book? Is it hardcover or softcover?

The book is softback, 216mm x 216mm and printed in colour throughout.


When did you first discover the great spy shows? What were some of your early impressions?

My earliest memory of these kind of shows is loving Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons as a young child in the early 70s. I had the Dinky toys, annuals, etc and because I had older brothers and sisters I ended up watching lots of TV shows with them. I remember seeing the 50 minute episodes of Danger Man repeated in 1981 and really got into these as I was a James Bond, spy film fan, as most kids my age were back then. Then in the early and mid 80s, ITV and Channel 4 started showing repeats of everything from The Avengers, Danger Man (25 mins), The Champions, The Baron, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Captain Scarlet and more so my VHS machine was in overdrive taping all these. Some of these shows were new to me but others I had very vague memories of – I just loved them as they were like one-hour short films.


Did you collect spy tv memorabilia as a kid?

Not necessarily collect but I had a lot of spy film and TV toys, such as James Bond Corgi cars (DB5 and Lotus Esprit), various annuals and paperbacks (mostly Gerry Anderson and Countdown/TV Action). I had a board game called Spy Ring that I really liked when I was about 8!

Have you been able to collect unique items like props, scripts, or original production materials?

Since I began collecting in the early 80s I have been very fortunate to collect a lot of ITC items. I’ve got a lot of the promotional brochures and series information books. I have about 100 original scripts from various ITC series including The Persuaders!, The Saint, The Baron, Department S, Man In A Suitcase, The Champions, Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased), The Adventurer, Danger Man, Gideon’s Way and Strange Report. I’ve also got a lot of production paperwork, memos, etc.

That sounds like an exciting collection! How did you transition from fan to scholar and preservationist?

I did my first fanzine in the late 1988 when I was 20 and had built up a small collection of ITC memorabilia and just wanted to find out more about them. I’d been a member of Fanderson since 1985/86, Six of One probably around the same time and RAHDAS from its creation. You have to remember that in those days there was very little coverage for these shows and it felt that very few people were interested in them so I just started writing about them because it seems no one else was. Once I’d got The Morning After (TMA) going properly in 1991, ITC very quickly gave me their blessing and invited me to their Perivale office and from then on I started working with them and in particular, Jon Keeble, very closely and he got me involved in all sorts of things so it led on from there.


You’ve done extensive work on The Morning After (and its compiled volumes), and the complete Avengers set. How have you approached your research? Have you been able to track down old office files, conduct interviews, etc? Tell us about some of your adventures chasing after artifacts and information.

With TMA it was quite easy once Jon Keeble got involved – he gave me an open invite to visit the offices as often as I wanted to and allowed me access to lots of materials. Things like scripts, production paperwork that I have acquired mostly have come from cast and crew members I got to know since the magazine started, but I have found such items at film fairs since the mid 1980s. Sometimes things have turned up by chatting to people at events like this. On one occasion a dealer had some artwork from TV21 comic (Gerry Anderson shows) and I asked if he had any of The Persuaders! artwork from Countdown/TV Action and he said he did at home but not with him. It turned out he had the original cover artwork for issue 124, featuring The Persuaders! in a story titled Who Is Sylvia? – it’s a lovely piece of artwork to own.


In terms of The Avengers DVDs it was a case of already knowing a lot of people involved with the series and asking them what they might have kept. One person I didn’t know was the original producer Leonard White who initially was reluctant to get involved as he feared it would be another release focusing on Brian Clemens side of the story. I reassured him that I wanted to start from the beginning of the story and it was his chance to give his version of events. I got to know Leonard well and I was amazed when he handed me his scrapbooks containing telesnaps from a number of the missing Ian Hendry episodes. He’d had them for all those years and no previous author, dvd company, etc had bothered to ask him about the series he basically created (he came up with the title, series premise, found Patrick Macnee and much more) – I think that both ignorant and scandalous so hence why I have tried to address this.




The new Blu-ray editions are wonderful, by the way! The black and white Diana Rigg episodes look especially stunning in hi-definition. Your projects have included collaborating with many past cast and crew members for special features and content. What have been some of the most memorable interactions and discoveries?

In terms of tracking down people to interview once I spoken to Bob Baker and Johnny Goodman back in the early days of TMA it became easier as they introduced to many people and gave me contact details for so many members of the crew from a lot of ITC productions. On one occasion I was with Johnny Goodman in his office and we were talking about old members of the crew and he said he recently spoke to Harry Pottle, art director on the black and white Diana Rigg episodes of The Avengers and The Persuaders!. He looked up his phone number and the area code was the same as mine – it turned out that Harry lived about 10 miles down the road from me and I visited him a couple of times and he very kindly gave me Roger Moore’s original script from Chain of Events that Roger had signed and given to him during the shows production.
I have been lucky to interview, work and become friends with a lot of ITC and Avengers cast and crew over the last 30 odd years. It’s sad that so many of them are no longer with us.


The Persuaders didn’t seem to gather the following in the States that The Avengers had. Apparently it was pulled from the air mid-season. For those who don’t know the series well, what are some of the elements and qualities of The Persuaders that you find most enjoyable and interesting? 

The pairing of Tony Curtis and Roger Moore is superb, both actors were brilliant at ad-libbing and the spark between them is fantastic. The series was shot on location including the South of France, Paris, Rome, Stockholm, London and the English countryside and this gave it a very continental feel. The guest stars and leading ladies were of high quality and all got into the spirit of the show. The cars driven by the stars, an Aston Martin DBS and Ferrari Dino, added a lot and the race sequence between them in the opening episode is something out of a Hollywood movie. The series scripts were fun and part of the attraction is that it didn’t take itself too seriously.


You have published two beautifully collected volumes of The Morning After. Tell us about the history of the magazine and your new publications.

The Morning After was established in February/March 1991 and was immediately recognized as the official The Persuaders!/ITC Appreciation Society by the then copyright owners, the ITC Entertainment Group Ltd.

The society mainly concentrated on The Persuaders! in the club magazine, The Morning After, but some issues were 'specials' dedicated to other ITC action-adventure series made in the 1960s and 70s such as The Champions, Man In A Suitcase, Department S and The Baron. A sister publication, Nuisance Value, was also published. In total there were 27 issues of TMA and three issues of Nuisance Value.


As well as receiving the magazines, subscribers could also attend TMA events, such as The Persuaders! - an exhibition of memorabilia (1997), The Persuaders! 30th Anniversary Party (2001) and the ten Location Day tours (1994 – 2004).

The TMA reprint books (Volume 1 and 2) reproduce issues 1 – 18 of TMA and 1 and 2 of Nuisance Value in their entirety. Also included in volume 2 is the unpublished TMA 28 that sadly never made it to print. These back issues have long been out of print and were printed in very small quantities. Original copies rarely turn up and now sell on auction sites for anything between £15 – £20 per issue so I took the decision to reprint them all in the books and let fans have access to them for a relatively cheap cover price. They have both sold well and have been given fantastic reviews by a number of people. They were also a lovely personal trip down memory lane for me and I really enjoyed putting them together. I’m hoping they will continue to sell and that fans will appreciate them as time capsules on ITC shows prior to the explosion of the internet.


What are a few interesting things you discovered by working on the project? What were some of the highlight features you were able to include?

In terms of research for TMA, it was good to reveal to fans the origin of the character name for Danny Wilde (Chuck Kirk), unearth the unmade storylines, find lots of the locations, but mostly interview people who worked on the ITC shows. I always wanted to include one interview per issue and I think I generally managed that.

Are The Morning After volumes available in different formats (softcover, hardcover, kindle, etc)? Where can fans find your publications?

The TMA reprints volume 1 features issues 1–10, volume 2 contains 11–18 and NV 1 and 2, both of these are softback. These are available direct from Lulu and have recently been discounted by 20% (www.lulu.com). Issues 19 through to 27 and NV 3 are available as the original magazines and direct from me. There are no electronic versions available.

I really enjoy the covers. Tell us how the designs came about?

It was always a case of finding the strongest possible image and letting it talk for itself. I didn’t want to cover these beautiful images with lots of text so it was always a case of just using the TMA logo relatively small and that was it. I don’t like busy covers with lots of text, that’s not my style – I prefer something clean and let people discover the contents by actually looking inside.

You’ve worked hard to preserve and archive the history of The Avengers, The Persuaders!, and other series. Tell us a bit about your many other professional projects making books and DVD collections.

Blimey, there has been so much! I’ve designed and published magazines, written books, produced DVD featurettes, moderated well over 100 DVD audio commentaries, designed official calendars, designed and co-ordinated soundtracks, organized numerous events and been involved as a consultant on many other projects.


You have dedicated your time and talent to supporting many efforts to preserve our favorite series in the culture. Can you tell us a bit about your contributions to publications and websites by fellow scholars?

I used to design and contribute to the magazine Action TV. That was a fantastic magazine and such a shame it ceased publication. I’ve been involved with various books including Robert Fairclough’s on The Prisoner, Robert Sellers’ book on ITC, Richard Webber’s That Was The Decade That Was. I co-authored the De Agostini Danger Man partwork, helped out with authors like Marcus Hearn and Chris Bentley with their books on The Avengers and UFO and Captain Scarlet.
There are a lot of websites, always connected to ITC shows and The Avengers, some of which have disappeared.

From a design perspective, what are some of your favorite vintage book and poster designs?

Poster designs have to be anything by Saul Bass – what a genius he was! Everything he did from logo design, to film titles to posters are fantastic. It would be really difficult to select a favourite. As for books, John D Green’s Birds of Britain (1967) is a visual feast of delectable ladies, lots of which have links to ITC series.

I’m curious about the design process when creating DVD packaging for foreign markets. What have you noticed about the use of design motifs, images, and layout when targeting audiences in different countries?

I haven’t actually designed anything for foreign markets. I enjoy looking at the way other countries designed their ITC memorabilia and I love it when designers in different countries create designs unique for their own markets – eg the John Barry theme single or the paperback novels.


I regret not making it to The Avengers 50th celebration. Were you there? Any fun stories, impressions, or full-circle moments?

I co-organised the event – I was pretty much responsible for getting the majority of guests, I designed the programme and timeline, conducted a lot of the interviews and sourced most of the archive materials. It was fantastic to reunite Leonard White with his two leading ladies, Honor Blackman and Julie Stevens, and with the Head of ABC Brian Tesler. The fire alarm went off towards the end of the reunion and as we outside waiting to go back in, Linda Thorson and Paul O’Grady arrived by helicopter in full view of everyone.

We launched Howard Blake Tara King soundtrack CD at the event. I designed the booklet for that and came up with the concept of the release so it was great to give Howard such a brilliant opportunity to meet so many fans. It was a real one-off, very exhausting but huge fun and fantastic to get so many people who worked on the series back together for one last time.


Have there been similar events planned to celebrate The Persuaders!?

That would be in 2021 and without meaning to sound morbid, there aren’t really that many people alive who worked on the show. There is only really Roger Moore and Malcolm Christopher and we are six years away from that anniversary and none of us are getting any younger. It’s the same for most ITC series, especially when I think back to events that I’ve organized in the past, for example The Persuaders! 30th Anniversary Party – of the nine invited guests only three are still with us and that’s a very sad thought.

It's really sad. My own book project is starting so late and I'm sad to have missed so many people. What are you working now? Are there upcoming releases that you can talk about?

I am continuing to write my book on The Persuaders! that I hope will eventually get published – Roger Moore has written the foreword and I’ve interviewed so many people over the last 25 years that it’s going to be mammoth. I’ve got unused storylines, original production paperwork, production artwork, unpublished photos, etc that I want to include. Three publishers have shown interest and approached the copyright holders but all of them have failed to reach an agreement. I live in hope that one day this can be sorted and it will see the light of day.

I hope so! Let’s finish up by playing a Spy Vibe version of Desert Island Discs. Which 5 spy episodes would you bring to an island and why?

Now that is very difficult so I’m going to cheat and say five DVD or blu-ray sets. These would be: The Persuaders! (Network blu-ray), Danger Man 50 minute episodes (Umbrella DVD), Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased) (Umbrella DVD), Gideon’s Way (Network DVD) and The Saint black and white episodes (Network DVD).

What if you could take one book and one luxury item with you?

A TV with a build-in blu-ray/DVD player to play my box sets and as for a book, how about a folder containing all the original ITC brochures for each series!

Sounds great! Thank you, Jaz!


Selected Spy Vibe Posts: 007 SPECTRE ComicsCasino Royale FolioNew James Bond ComicDiana Rigg BFI InterviewCallan Documentary and SetCasino Royale Interview: Mike RichardsonEarly Saint Box SetLost Diana Rigg InterviewDiana Rigg EventIan Fleming LettersNew Gillette 007 CoversPirate RadioSpectre Advanced PosterHonor Blackman at 90UNCLE SchoolIan Fleming MemorialRadiophonic ExhibitPortmeirion PhotosDoctor Who ExhibitFarewell SteedPussy Galore ReturnsDiana Rigg birthdaySherlock at 221BInvisible AgentSaint Interview: Ian DickersonSaint DoppelgängerFleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanJim Wilson Corgi InterviewFantomas DesignJeremy Duns on BondJohn Buss interviewAvengers Season 5 TitlesSaint VolvoMod Tales InterviewAgente Secreto ComicsDanger Man Comics 2Danger Man ComicsJohn Drake ComicsDer Mann Von UNCLEGolden Margaret NolanMan From UNCLE RocksteadyPussy Galore Calypso, Cynthia Lennon R.I.P.Edward Mann FashionLeonard Nimoy TributeShatner at 84Bob Morane seriesThai Bond DesignBond vs ModernismArt of ModestyTokyo Beat 1964Feraud Mod FashionGreen Hornet MangaNo 6 FestivalAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.Comics Week: ArchieComics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy Olsen, Shakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies I, Rodney Marshall Avengers Interview, Richard Sala: Super-Enigmatix, Cold War Archie, Playboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese Books, Trina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.
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