East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Diana Rigg, 1938-2020

I have just learned about the death of Dame Diana Rigg, that was Emma Peel in The Avengers, without a doubt the actress and the character that have had the strongest and longest lasting influence on me, under every respect.

Today she’s mostly remembered for her role in Game of Thrones (my goodness!) but she had a long and respected career in the Royal Shakespeare Company, and was the star in the proto-steampunk Assassination Bureau, Ltd. and in a very funny horror movie featuring Vincent Price (Theater of Blood).
She also was, of course, Mrs James Bond.

http://www.kobal-collection.com Title: ASSASSINATION BUREAU, THE ¥ Pers: RIGG, DIANA / DOBTCHEFF, VERNON ¥ Year: 1968 ¥ Dir: DEARDEN, BASIL ¥ Ref: ASS002AE ¥ Credit: [ PARAMOUNT / THE KOBAL COLLECTION ] ASSASSINATION BUREAU, THE (1968) , January 1, 1968 Photo by Kobal/PARAMOUNT/The Kobal Collection/WireImage.com To license this image (10517504), contact The Kobal Collection/WireImage.com

I feel like I lost a much loved relation.


Dreaming up a new series (because rust never sleeps)

I was talking with some friends, a few days ago, of how much The Avengers (the British TV series, not the guys in spandex from Marvel) had an impact on my life. It was the vision of the classic Steed & Peel seasons back when I was around 8 that made me a committed Anglophile for life – and so everything, from my desire to learn English to my spending one year in London as a student, stems from there.

My interest for spy stories and a certain brand of strange, surreal adventure certainly owes a lot to The Avengers (and to The Prisoner).
I believe my attitude towards women was shaped (also) by an early crush on Mrs Peel, and if I keep writing stories about couples bickering, chattering and working together as partners in crime, it is certainly because of The Avengers.

Here I should note that when I was a kid we did get an awful lot of British TV series, and those shaped my tastes and left a huge impression: The Avengers, The Prisoner, The Persuaders, UFO, Space 1999, Children of the Stones…
It was good being kids back then, and a lot of the imagination sparked by those shows filtered somehow in what I write.

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Nine TV shows that made me

My friend Jessica, over at her blog, is doing a series of posts about media that made her the writer she is. Books, movies, TV shows… I dunno, probably also videogames, LPs or whatever. After all we are the product of our experiences, and when it comes to stories, the stories we enjoyed reflect on the stories we write.
All of which simply means, I’m pilfering her idea, and I’ll do a few posts featuring stuff that had an influence on my writing.

Now Jessica’s done a post about her top five TV shows, and that got me thinking.
I grew up with more shows on the TV than films in the movie theater, and really my early years were spent between the telly and books with a few odd comics thrown in. As a consequence, I think like most from my generation I picked up some bits and pieces from the TV when I was putting together my writing language: ideas, characters, the way to handle dialog…

So I jotted down a list, that includes a lot more than five shows, and then distilled it to a handful of special shows, and I was surprised when I found out that, while unsurprisingly most shows date from between the ’60 and the ’80s, fantasy shows (including SF and horror) do not take the top positions. Curious, what?
In the end I reduced my list to nine titles. The rule of thumb for the selection: I must be able to trace at least some elements of my writing to the series, I must have watched it before I started seriously to write my stories, I can quote snippets of dialog from it at the slightest provocation.
Also, the list does not include animation and anime series.
Let’s see…

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