Interviews with Brian Clemens, Lynda Day George and Bradford Dillman
An Interview With Brian Clemens
Several years ago English writer Franz Antony Clinton was preparing a book on Thriller, compiling information from a number of sources including (the now-defunct) ITC and interviews with several people involved in the production of the series. Sadly, the book never made it to publication but Franz has very graciously allowed his interview with Brian Clemens to be included here, whilst other material from his collection is reproduced elsewhere throughout the site. Franz is currently writing a book on British thriller films which will be published in the United States next year; readers will be advised on this site when it becomes available. Brian Clemens - who has a particular fondness for the British thriller genre - has written the foreword for the book.
FRANZ: Basically I'd really like to know
how the idea for the series came about...were you approached by
Lew Grade or did you propose it?
BRIAN CLEMENS: I proposed it to Michael Grade who told his uncle Lew, and they liked the idea but nothing happened...and then maybe a year went by and Lew came to me and said "Can you write six (episodes) in six minutes?"...because he'd gone to America and got an order from ABC who were going to pay $100,000 an episode and run it late-night network - incongruously going out under the umbrella title "Wide World Of Entertainment". And we made them for $100,000 so as soon as we made them we were in profit, so it was a very viable proposition. They (ABC) had very little input; they only wanted to know the lead casting. They would accept British actors or foreign actors as long as they were names, otherwise they wanted to suggest American names and send them over. Some of them I wasn't too familiar with - I mean, Donna Mills has since become a name on television but she was fairly unknown to me, but because she was making it in America...and as long as we could incorporate one out of two names that ABC said "OK" to, we had complete carte blanche to make them. I think think the initial order was six; they went well and they ordered more in blocks of six and ten...I think we ended up making forty three.
FRANZ: That's right. So did you actually make them for ABC?
BRIAN CLEMENS: No, they were made for ATV...they were made for Lew Grade and as I say the only stipulation was that they (ABC) had some input in casting, but apart from that nothing. They didn't need to know the stories or the synopsis.
FRANZ: Were you actually thinking of an American market when you were writing them?
BRIAN CLEMENS: No...I think the way our British film industry regrettably doesn't think is that if you make something good it should sell everywhere.
FRANZ: Did you actually write parts for American actors?
BRIAN CLEMENS: No, I never write for actors because then you find you can't get them and you're thrown. No, the actors were imposed later.
FRANZ: But an American personality, or..?
BRIAN CLEMENS: No well, if we had an American...we would have a read-through a bit like a theatre play, and at read through I would change lines, or sometimes the American actor - like Paul Burke...I mean he had already done it and at the read through he threw me because he'd changed it here and there into Americanese...you know, transposing words and so on. I didn't object to that because it made his performance more comfortable.
FRANZ: So it wasn't really considered more important how it was received in the States than how it was received in Britain?
BRIAN CLEMENS: No not really. I mean they stood and fell, really, on their stories .
BRIAN CLEMENS: They were longer than
Hitchcock...they were little movies, really. They ran about 65-70
FRANZ: Yes, that was my next question actually.
BRIAN CLEMENS: Yes, they ran about 70 minutes. I don't think they were cut in America because they had many more commercial breaks...they'd have about six or seven commercials.
FRANZ: That's right; they made it about 90 minutes. It was shown in a 75 minute slot over here, which is quite unusual for a series in network prime time...
BRIAN CLEMENS: Yes, well they were doing things then they don't do any more.
FRANZ: I think that's probably one reason it hasn't been repeated a lot - finding the right slot is a bit difficult.
BRIAN CLEMENS: Usually they're very late at night when they don't really care what they're doing.
FRANZ: But was that time for the American market or did ATV want it?
BRIAN CLEMENS: No, the original time was (for) the American market - which was very exact...I mean I think it's like sixty seven minutes and thirty seven seconds!
FRANZ: So it was written with that time in mind?
BRIAN CLEMENS: Yes, well, it was cut for that. I mean, you can't write to an exact second. I work on a page a minute, so I was turning in about 65 to 70 pages.
FRANZ: How long did it actually take you to do a script or a series?
BRIAN CLEMENS: Well I often do a script in a week, but I have the idea in my mind (for a long time). Thrillers are pretty easy to write...I always write about things that scare me. Science fiction doesn't scare me particularly; what scares me is you're lying in bed and you hear the latch go on the back door and you know you've locked it. And of course the victims were often women because somehow they're more vulnerable and somehow people identify closely with them.
FRANZ: Did you actually design the look of the opening title sequence?
BRIAN CLEMENS: Yes, I did that - the fisheye.
FRANZ: You designed that; it was your idea?
BRIAN CLEMENS: Yeh...I didn't actually draw it but it was my idea. I workeed closely with John Sichel, who was the first producer, I think. Of course, Laurie being my partner from The Avengers, I asked him to do the music and he wrote the incidental music as well.
FRANZ: Yes; great theme. Was that ever used in the 'States, the fisheye lens..?
BRIAN CLEMENS: Oh yes, I think what happened was that the series that you saw was the one that was sold on late-night network in the "States, and then later when they wanted to sell it to syndication some American idiot thought it needed jazzing-up. Actually, I think they wanted to make some money by doing the jazzing-up. They shot all this silly stuff to put on the front, and gave me an embarassing amount of credits, too. On those I seem to get an additional credit, or sometimes two, because they didn't bother to change the original credit...they just stuck that on the front, which I think was a de-merit, really...because they weren't Thriller. The fisheye and that music was drawing you in like Twilight Zone, whereas what they did it was like the front of any movie of the week.
FRANZ: That's when they tried to make it into a movie-
BRIAN CLEMENS: Yes.
FRANZ: -so the identity was lost. It's interesting that it was shown as Thriller, or Menace, maybe?
BC: Yes it was probably called "Menace". They couldn't use "Thriller" because that had been used before somewhere.
FRANZ: So how did they get by the title-ing?
BRIAN CLEMENS: Well you have the original and then the music track and then the titles, so it isn't too difficult to separate them.
FRANZ: On the production side, did you
have any control over them?
BRIAN CLEMENS: Oh yes, I was deeply involved! I didn't have control, but I was deeply involved in production. I went to all the read-throughs, and helped cast the smaller parts - the other parts - and was around...because I was geographically on hand, you see, because I was working at Elstree and they were being made literally across the road at ATV. So it was just a question of strolling across the road. I often had to do that when they found that scenes [inaudible] or they needed an extra scene because it was short, or whatever. The basic brief was that you could have about seven minutes of exterior film, which didn't bother me because I don't like exterior film in thrillers anyway - I think the more internal they are the better.
FRANZ: So were you happy with the actual look of the series in the end...the way the scripts turned out, the direction?
BRIAN CLEMENS: Yes...there was one I was unhappy with where they overlayed a train sound throughout...it was the one with Charles Gray in it. I thought that the dub of the train killed the lines, but it was too late to do anything about it by the time I found out. I did do a lot of cutting; I worked with the editor because I thought the one thing they couldn't do was cut for tension. It was quite often... putting a cut the other way around. I worked on a lot of the cutting because I enjoy post-production as much as any (filming) - I think it can make or break a product, really. It was a bit difficult because they were editing on videotape and they didn't have the facilities they have now, so it wasn't like working in a movie made on film where you actually look at the film and you can cut to within half a frame. You could never be that exact with video - you'd be lucky if you got roughly what you wanted.
FRANZ: I believe that you wrote a stage play called Lover, which was used as one of the stories?
BRIAN CLEMENS: That's right, yeh.
FRANZ: Have any other stories in Thriller been used before or since?
BRIAN CLEMENS: No, nothing.
FRANZ: How did it work when an episode was adapted from one of your stories?
BRIAN CLEMENS: Well I used to block it (and) all you had to do was write the words, really. I used writers I was very confident with and knew pretty well, and then I edited their script before it was submitted. It worked pretty well; it was more or less the way I made The Avengers, because I didn't write every one of those either but I had to keep the overall style.
FRANZ: So you think the definitive versions are the fisheye-lens ones?
BRIAN CLEMENS: Yes. They still exist somewhere...Polygram, or whoever owns them. I don't think they've ever taken the trouble to go into the vaults and find them.
FRANZ: They did put a few on Bravo...
BRIAN CLEMENS: What, with the fisheye..?
BRIAN CLEMENS: Oh, that's unusual.
FRANZ: Most of them were the fisheye-lens ones...and then they stopped running them.
BRIAN CLEMENS: Well, I suppose, Bravo went from being time-warp television to I don't know what.
FRANZ: Yes, it's gone, unfortunately.
FRANZ: Briefly, can you tell me something
about the process of creating a series?
BRIAN CLEMENS: Well, the main thing is to get somebody else to like it and to back you, I suppose.
FRANZ: Do you develop your own ideas?
BRIAN CLEMENS: Yeh, yeh...and then try and sell it in the marketplace. Well Thriller, as I say, that was an idea...I said to Michael and then Lew, "Why aren't we doing some thrillers?" It's a [inaudible] thing to do, people like them, and that's how it came about.
FRANZ: There was an episode where you wrote a story with Terry Nation...
BRIAN CLEMENS: Yes, well that was a pilot for a series called The Team. I wrote one and he wrote one and we didn't sell it as a series, but I thought it was too good an idea and I bought the idea from Terry and re-wrote it as a Thriller, because the idea worked in Thriller. I'm not sure - I think that's the one where Mathew Earp was in it [sic]...he appeared twice.
FRANZ: That was actually my next question.
BRIAN CLEMENS: I created him in my episode...yes...it was the one with Paul Burke?
FRANZ: Yes that's right.
BRIAN CLEMENS: Yes well, I created this detective and Lew liked him; a lot of people liked him - Dinsdale Landen - and they said "Use him again because the Americans liked him", and I think in the back of their minds was the idea that it might spin off into a series, which would have been good but it didn't.
FRANZ: So it wasn't an idea for that initially?
BRIAN CLEMENS: No, the first time it was just a character - there was no possibility it was going to spin off, no.
FRANZ: And the second one..?
BRIAN CLEMENS: Oh well the second one was deliberate putting him in; I thought "Well, extend his character a bit more and maybe they'll like him a lot, until..."
FRANZ: It didn't happen?
BRIAN CLEMENS: It didn't happen; but it can happen.
FRANZ: Was Thriller a trial for ideas for other series?
BRIAN CLEMENS: No, only that one.
FRANZ: So lastly on Thriller, have you ever thought of creating another series in a similar vein?
BRIAN CLEMENS: Well I'd love to...in fact somebody wanted me involved in a series called Chiller. They made one which was quite awful because it was against all the precepts of what a thriller should be.
FRANZ: I had great hopes for that [laughs].
BRIAN CLEMENS: Oh dear, it was awful! And they tried to make it socially aware which you shouldn't do - a thriller is a thriller, you know.
FRANZ: That's true - that's what I've really admired about these stories, that they don't involve too much background. It's just a situation, you've got a set and something is happening there and then.
BRIAN CLEMENS: Yeh, yeh. Well what I did was I bought twenty copies of Truffaut's interview with Hitchcock and as we employed a new director I gave him a copy. Because if you want some kind of icon, Hitch' is the one.
FRANZ: That's very interesting!
[Note that Mr Clemens made a slight error when he recalled Mathew Earp as being the detective in "K Is For Killing" - the private eye in that episode was in fact Arden Buckley]
LYNDA DAY GEORGE The quality of Brian Clemens Thriller
A behind the scenes look at Thriller Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are with its leading lady.
Not too long ago, American author Jonathan Etter had the opportunity to sit down with the prolific American television actress Lynda Day George (Mission: Impossible, The Silent Force, Rich Man, Poor Man, Roots, countless TV movies, and series guest appearances Bonanza, Coronet Blue, The Green Hornet, Ellery Queen, Flipper, etc.), and discuss the production of her 1974 Thriller Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are. Being a Thriller fan and great admirer of its producer/creator Brian Clemens, Lynda was delighted to hear that there is a website devoted to this series. She is more than happy to share her memories of Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are with her fellow Thriller fans.
Etter: Were you familiar
with Thriller before you did Come Out, Come
Out, Wherever You Are?
George: Yes. Well, actually, I had heard more about the series Thriller than I had seen. I was just so pleased. I felt so honored to be a part of it. It was really thats just how I felt.
Etter: Did you learn about the show from talking with people like Brad Dillman? Or was it talked about in the industry?
George: Um, I dont know that it was talked about in the industry, but I do know that some actors were more aware of what was going on in other countries than others, so, it was just a matter of who knew and who didnt. I had heard about Brian Clemens forever of course. I was very fond of English productions, so I felt real privileged to be a part of the show.
Etter: From what Ive heard ABC wanted Clemens and the other people involved in producing Thriller to use American performers.
George: I dont know about that. All I know is that I got a call from my agent, and he said that they were interested in me, and I said, Oh please please please. I want to do that. And thats pretty much all I know. And I got to see the script and I really enjoyed it, and (laughing) I got a role.
Etter: So you got your passport
George: I had my passport. I was ready to go.
Etter: Okay, so you were familiar with Brian Clemens work. Did you have a chance to meet him?
George: Yes, I did. What a delightful person. That whole shoot was just overall, it was a magnificent experience for me. I really, REALLY enjoyed myself there. It was just spectacular.
Etter: I figured you liked the weather there because it was so nice and cold over there and rainy. Youve told me in the past that you love that kind of weather.
George: Yeah, there were days when it was lovely. Really pretty misty and cold and rainy just perfect. And the people in England were so friendly. You could ask anybody on the street any question you wanted, and they would answer you.
Etter: Now when you met Clemens, you had of course watched The Avengers.
George: Oh sure. I was an AVID fan. (Laughs)
Etter: Hed also done The Protectors.
George: Oh gosh. Yes, he had, With Nyree Dawn Porter.
Etter: What did you like about Brian Clemens? About the kinds of series that he did?
George: I liked that they had an intelligent quality. That was one of the most important things. They were intelligent. The characters were more like real people, and they were more dangerous too. Because of that I guess. Thats one of the things that I loved the quality of the characters, and I thought that he was intensely clever about the way he put the stories together the mysteries were really they were more complex, more like what would really happen. I mean mysteries are (laughing) some of them have a lot of strengths, and his were strong. For me anyway; I like to think of his shows as curiously strong.
Etter: You mean that about The Avengers and The Protectors?
Etter: And you felt the Thriller series was the same way?
George: Yes. I really enjoyed all of those because I love mysteries.
Etter: When you spoke with Clemens, was he aware of some of the things youd done?
George: Oh yeah. It seems to me that he was very conscious of what was going on in his pieces. I dont think that anything slipped past his eye. (Laughing) I would say that was probably essential for him - to know exactly who was doing the pieces, and where they came from as far as being a performer.
Etter: Was he kind of a Quinn Martin, that type of a producer?
George: He was. Very much in touch with his pieces, and very intent upon a specific feeling and attitude toward each of his series.
Etter: There was a difference between the Thrillers that they showed in England, and the ones they showed here in the States. When they brought them here to the States, they added scenes and things. What was your feeling about that?
George: Well, Ill tell you, it was kinda it was fairly clear because usually when you add scenes for an American audience, its exploratory. It tells people all about the story (laughing) so they dont forget between commercials. I felt those were unnecessary, but that was me. I really like it the other way (Laughing hard.)
Etter: You like things less obvious, more obscure?
George: I do. Thats really true.
Etter: Clemens himself felt that way. Although in your case, I think the added scenes enhanced the drama. They gave us a chance to be a little bit more sympathetic towards your character (Cathy More).
George: Well, yeah. I would say thats accurate. I like the fact that over there, they dont need to be sympathetic. So I enjoyed the Thriller series very much, and I thought Brian Clemens was brilliant. I really enjoyed the type of mystery that the English do. So, between Thriller, and The Avengers, and
Etter: The Prisoner?
George: Yes. Thank you. The Prisoner. Of course, The Prisoner. So, between The Prisoner and those other series, I was just blown away by English television. I was really impressed with the way they managed their TV over there.
Etter: They seem to be a little bit more reserved there. I think one of the problems in this country is that we tend to glorify our performers a little bit too much.
George: TOO MUCH!
Etter: And youve told me that Chris (Lyndas late actor-husband, Christopher George) was really excited about working with Gary Raymond on (Georges first series -the 1966-68 ABC WWII drama) Rat Patrol. That he loved working with Gary because the English style of acting was so different from the American approach. You felt similarly. What particularly did you like about the English style of acting?
George: Oh Gosh! I loved the simplicity and the straightness of the delivery. Its just very clear and unadulterated. Its a real raw clean emotion and the deliveries are so wonderful because theyre so human.
Etter: Case in point, the performance of your Thriller co-star Peter Jeffrey? (Inspector Dexter)
George: Oh God! I loved him. I just loved him. He was wonderful.
Etter: I remember you said he was the sweetest guy you ever worked with.
George: He was one of the very sweetest people Id ever worked with. Just a dear man, and to my eye - a wonderful performer. He just seemed so open, his deliveries were so easy and natural.
Etter: He didnt act like you were an inferior performer because you came from American TV?
George: I sure hope not. He never implied that I never felt that way.
Etter (Laughing): And Im assuming he wasnt anything like his (misogynist) character.
George (Laughing): No. No!! He was a lovely, lovely man. I dont think he needed to carry his character beyond the set.
Etter: Did the two of you spend a lot of time together when you werent working?
George: When we were at the studio, yeah. I guess truly we all palled (that is to say being pals, being friends) around a lot together because if there was time, there was time, and we were all there.
Etter: Was Chris there at the time too?
George: No, Im sorry to say he wasnt; he would have loved Peter.
Etter: So you and Chris shot your Thrillers at different times?
Etter: But they aired back to back in Britain.
George (laughing): I know. Chris was in Italy at the time I think it was Italy or Spain.
Etter: When Chris did his Thriller (The Next Scream You Hear a.k.a. Not Guilty,) did you go with him?
George (laughing): Oh sure.
Etter: So that gave you an opportunity to meet the actor who played Peter Marshall in A Man Called Peter -Richard Todd.
George: Richard Todd, yes. A delight. A real gem. People are you know, I begin to feel like I sound like a machine when I say the same things over and over about people, but I say them because theyre true for me. Ive never had that kind of an experience with folks that was so unpleasant that I needed to, you know, Ive never had that. Well, only one.
Etter: Getting back to Come Out, Come Out, also in the cast was John Carson.
George: He played the innkeeper (Arthur Lewis). He was an interesting character too. He was a very nice man, but he was a little bit intimidating.
Etter: What about Bernard Holley? (Paul Eastman)
George: Ahhhh! What a sweetie! Ohhh! What a sweetie-pie.
Etter: Did he get carried away when he was doing those love scenes with you?
George: Noooo. (Laughing) No, no. (Lynda did run into this problem with other actors however.)
Etter: You guys really played that to the hilt.
George: Well, sure. You know the thing thats hysterical about love scenes is that people forget that there are thirty or forty people standing around watching EVERY move youre making so that they can correct one move or another for the next take. (Laughing) So, love scenes are about as intimate and sexual as I dont know, a picnic with the Baptist Church group.
Etter: (Laughing) Thats a good way to put it. Now, what do you recall about your director, John Sichel? .
George: I really enjoyed myself working with him. He was just very keen, very perceptive, and very willing to see what I particularly brought that was different TO this production. He was just delightful. We stayed in touch for quite a long time after the show. He and his wife, I think her name was Elsie, they were such dear folks. I remember they lived at Number 1 Oh Criminy! Such a wonderful name. PHOOEY! And right now I cant even bring it to my mind. Sorry about that.
Etter: Thats okay. Now did the production last about two weeks?
George: Im trying to think. I think it was about two weeks.
Etter: And this was a little bit over an hour TV show?
George: Yeah, because of the way their commercial system is set up or their (commercial) break system is set-up
Etter: From what Ive heard, the Thrillers were done like stage plays.
George: Yes, they were. Yes, they were. So that the characters could become who they were going to be naturally within the piece so that everything developed as it should. It was really quite a wonderful experience - working with people who had such WONDERFUL credits I just loved it.
Etter: Lets talk about some of the crew people. How about the cameramen Mike Whitcutt and Toni Imi?
George: Oh Yeah! God, were they skillful. They were just really skillful. There was an awful lot of being willing to do different things, they were always lets try something else lets do this, lets do that, lets try this one, but there wasnt a lot of their therere a lot of angles and wonderful things in that piece that actually never got beyond the oh, lets try that stage.
Etter: I liked the way they shot the flashbacks. The way they do them, its obviously being done from your perspective.
George: Exactly. (A similar technique was used in Lyndas 1968 TV movie-debut, The Sound of Anger the first of two pilots for The Lawyers segment of the rotating NBC series, The Bold Ones..)
Etter: Theres kind of a murky, spiderwebby
George: Yeah. I dont know whose idea that was. They werent filming it in that way I believe that was part of postproduction. I just think that they were brilliant it was wonderful to work with them. Theyd been at this for a very long time, and I think they had some amazing things to offer. And the actors with whom I was working You know, every country has performers that are like stock performers they do things that can be recognized as good work all around the world, and then those same countries have people who are absolutely stunning performers. And the English actors I dont know that Ive ever really watched an English performer who wasnt quite prepared for the job.
Etter: Like Wilfrid Hyde-White in Fear No Evil? (A Gothic horror tale, which its late producer-writer Richard Alan Simmons calls Lynda Day Georges movie, Fear No Evil was directed by The Mephisto Waltzs Paul Wendkos. Wendkos considers Fear some of his finest TV work. Fear No Evil was Lyndas second TV-movie.)
George: Oh Lord. Oh Lord. Hes a wonderful guy (laughing), a funny man.
Etter: He was one of the better things about that movie, I take it?
George: He was just delightful.
Etter: Getting back to the crew people, what about the art director, Bryan Holgate? I remember you said that usually you didnt have much contact with the art directors.
George: True but on this particular shoot, it seemed like I had an opportunity to meet with more of the people than I would ordinarily have met here. (The fact that Lynda met more crew people than usual on the Thriller set is a real compliment to the series. Unlike most in her profession, Lynda Day George had a greater access in the States to such off-set crew people as editors, composers, and art directors.) I believe that Bryan Holgate was the one who would come with us, particularly on locations, and see to it that the sets were done right, that everything looked right. I think he had a great eye. I mean doing that show to have an opportunity to experience that level of production in another country - that was just such a blessing to me.
Etter: All right. Now how about the floor manager Paul Harrison?
George: That would be the assistant director, I think.
Etter: Thats the English term for assistant director?
George: I think.
Etter: Then there was the production assistant Paul Burdon.
George: Oh, golly. I think he was the ice cream man.
Etter: Somebody was providing ice cream?
George (laughing): Every once in a while. I think that was he.
Etter: Okay, now when you were doing the flashbacks, having discussed these kinds of characters with you in the past, I get the feeling in watching these flashbacks, that this girl Cathy More she has this resentment towards her cousin Jane, she wants to kill Jane so shell inherit all her money, but then at the very last minute, just as her accomplice Paul is getting ready to plunge the knife into Jane, Cathy decides, Hey, I dont want to do this. Was that what you were after? Was that what you wanted the audience to get from that moment?
George: Well, thats kind of what I was after. I didnt want I had that in my mind, as a back-up for my character, so that the character didnt have to appear to be totally without goodness. I think that the character needed that at that point particularly because otherwise, it would be just another murderer.
Etter: Its like (director) Robert Butler says, no matter what kind of character hes playing, an actor has to like his character, its death if you dont.
George: Yeah. If you dont like your character, youre in trouble.
Etter: And you always, no matter how evil the character youre playing, its also like Butler says, Youre always waiting for that point in the show where Lynda is gonna redeem herself and regain her nunnery.
George: Yes. Exactly right. Thats exactly right.
(Butler directed Lynda Day George in the well-regarded Invaders episode, The Trial. The two later reunited for the 1976 TV-movie, Mayday at 40,000 Feet. Like The Trials co-writer, George Eckstein, the Emmy-winning Butler considers Lynda Day George one of the finest actresses in American television.)
Etter: Now a lot of Thriller fans have talked about these opening and closing credits that were done by Film-Rite. I remember you said you really liked that painting that they did of you which they used in the closing credits.
George: Yeah, I did. I really loved that painting.
Etter: How did you feel about the opening credits? Did you ever see this thing where this man in a skeleton costume is chasing the girl through the woods?
George: No. (Laughing)
Etter: Theres this heavy breathing and this guy is chasing this girl through the woods.
George: No, I dont remember that. (Laughing) Sounds kind of inane. Oh my God. And I obviously was slipping right past that. So
Etter: Well, even though a lot of people laugh at those opening titles, they still enjoy Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are. In fact, a lot of Thriller fans feel that Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are is one of the finest episodes in the entire series.
George: Thank you very much. I really appreciate that.
(More memories from Lynda Day George concerning Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are, including close calls on the set, shooting at the castle, and Lyndas off-set adventures in town, will be presented in the interviewers upcoming authorized biography of the actress Lynda Day George: All Missions Possible. Ben Ohmarts Bear Manor Media will be the publisher.)
Noted American actor Bradford Dillman appeared in two episodes of Thriller : "The Next Voice You See" (where he was brought into the production by close friend Robert Tronson) and "Death In Deep Water".
In 1997, he recalled his time on Thriller for Franz Antony Clinton.
How did you
feel about travelling to the UK to work on Thriller?
It was especially "thrill"-ing for me to return to work in England. In 1965 I spent a year at Pinewood filming 26 episodes of a series called Court Martial and I longed for an excuse to return.
Do you recall how the programmes were produced?
In general I recall the programs were very cost-efficient, meaning both were done fast and cheap. The first program, "The Next Voice You See", my opportunity to play a blind person for the second time, was rehearsed very much in the manner of live television, in a spacious room, sets indicated by taped marks on a floor. The show itself was intended to be done in a day, one dress rehearsal on set, followed by the performance itself .Our director, Robert Tronson, I remember as talented and courteous, my co-star Catherine Schell as talented and beautiful.
Do you have any recollections from "The Next Voice You See"?
The evening before performance I was in the studio pub with some of the technicians, and one asked when I planned on returning to California. After I told him, he commented, "you might want to make later reservations." Then he lowered his voice, winked, and said, "There's going to be a bit of a fiddle." I wasn't sure what he meant until next day when cameras and sound mysteriously broke down for no accountable reason. It cost the producers another day to complete the show.
What about "Death In Deep Water"?
"Death in Deep Water" had a bigger budget. We went on location to a town called Totnes, where all were accommodated in the charming Thurlestone Hotel. The majority of the film was done at a place called Bantham, adjoining an estuary leading to the Channel.
Do you have any memories from the location filming?
As I recall the plot, I was a gangster in hiding, receiving provisions from my girl friend, played by Suzan Farmer, who needed to swim across the estuary to deliver the goods. Audiences may never have noticed the loaves of bread and bottles of wine she carried strapped to her waist, because Suzan in a bikini was an apparition that might have resurrected the dead. She had a double who did the swimming, another stunning young woman, a Canadian swim champion whose strong strokes were no match for the tides. She needed to start about a quarter of a mile upstream to reach the opposite bank at the appointed place.
What about the scenes of you in the row boat?
The director, James Ormerod, was a Royal Navy veteran in his element during the scene we did in the Channel where I dispose of a victim's remains. The pull of those tides was frightening. I found it impossible to keep the boat on its intended mark. Ultimately, as I realized I was moving closer to Calais than Dover, I pretended my radio had died and I could no longer hear James' impassioned direction.
What were the British actors like to work with?
Actors like Ian Bannen were a delight, and the then-unknown Nigel Havers later was a houseguest here in Santa Barbara, bearing as a gift several bottles of HP sauce, a condiment he knew I fancied. A 1975 calendar signed by all the Bantham bunch is a memento I keep to this day. As for my credits: they fill 12 typewritten pages, enumerating 67 films and over 140 hours of episodic television, so it's unlikely your readers could have avoided me, like it or not.