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Callan

David Callan is the laconic special agent who takes on the K.G.B. single handed - well, almost single h anded; his little friend Lonely reluctantly and sometimes unknowingly becomes involved in Callan's adventures.

Callan works for The Section. Boss of the section is the super- cilious Hunter. A yellow file on Hunter's desk means that the person named in it must be kept under surveillance. A red file means that he must be killed.

The best example of spy craft on TV was this British series from the late 1960s, with a central character who hated his job but realised his life expectancy was nil if he ever left the service. This show was a gripping thriller that emphasised the psychological aspects of the job, but could dish out the violence if required, with an iconic performance by Edward Woodward in the lead role.

The last few episodes formed a story-line that was a cracker, where the ruthless Russian assassin pleads with Callan to finish him off before he gets turned over to the interrogators. As a reviewer said "presented a picture of British secret service methods that left a queasy feeling in the stomach".

Episodes

While the pilot still exists, many of the episodes from series one and two have been lost. For a long time the only way to see the early episodes that remained were via bootleg copies, but in 2010 UK DVD publisher Network released the surviving B/Ws on DVD: Callan - the Monochrome Years.

Series three has seen official released on VHS and DVD in the UK, US and Australia, while series four had a DVD release in Australia, US, and UK: Callan - the Colour Years. Lastly, the follow-up reunion tv-movie Wet Job appeared in March 2011 in the UK.

The Novels

Written by the series creator James Mitchell, the first four of these - A Magnum for Schneider, Russian Roulette, Death and Bright Water, and Smear Job - are well worth tracking down, but the fifth - Bonfire Night - has been less popular with fans of the series and can only be recommended to die-hard collectors who like to have the whole set.

Short Stories

James Mitchell wrote at least 17 short stories about Callan for various UK newspapers.

The film

Two years after the TC show came to an end the pilot episodeA Magnum for Schneider was remade for the cinema.

Callan tv times
Callan short story in this issue

Documents in our Callan section