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Callan (1967-1972, Edward Woodward, Russell Hunter)

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Spy drama series detailing the cases of dour British secret service agent David Callan. Initially developed by ABC and then taken on by Thames when it secured the ITV London franchise in 1968, ‘Callan’, with its distinctive ’swinging lightbulb’ opening sequence, remains one of the great TV dramas.

Influenced more by the down at heel Harry Palmer style of British spying than the glamorous James Bond version, Callan was an edgy, friendless and reluctant assassin trapped in a job he loathed.

Callan first appeared in A Magnum for Schneider, a pilot episode screened in February 1967 as part of the Armchair Theatre series of one-off television plays. Disgraced former top agent David Callan (Edward Woodward) is given an opportunity to redeem himself with one more liquidation. The catch is that his superior, Colonel Hunter, frames him for the killing and, in so doing, traps Callan into working through 44 more episodes during which he must face all manner of menacing adversaries against every hazardous location that could be dreamed up, from a Canadian atomic power stations to sunken ships.

The great strength of Callan was its humanity. Woodward, who was in his late thirties when the series began, was an ordinary looking man with extraordinary skills. Hunter, who was played by a variety of actors during the course of the four series, knew that Callan’s weakness was that he cared about people even though his profession made it impossible for him to get emotionally involved. In turn, the urbane Hunter needed Callan’s brilliance, even though he accepted that Callan was the one man he could not completely control.

Callan

No account of Callan would be complete without mention of one of the most enduring supporting characters in British television history. The relationship between Callan and Russell Hunter’s smelly, petty villain, Lonely, was fascinating. Callan treated Lonely, who supplied him with under-the-counter firearms and useful information, with complete disdain. At the same time, however, he also protected his little accomplice, finding him a job as driver of the communications car, a taxi filled with high-tech listening devices.

In 1974 there was a big screen outing which was based on the plot of the Armchair Theatre entry (which James Mitchell had already published as a tie-in novel). Then in 1981 Callan returned for a one off feature length drama called Wet Job.

On 4 September 1971 the first episode of The Edward Woodward Hour (which ran for three episodes and aired between series three and four of Callan) featured a segment called Father Dear Father Meets Callan – this saw the cast of the popular ITV sitcom (Patrick Cargill and Natasha Pyne) get involved with spy Callan and sidekick Lonely (Russell Hunter was a regular on this show too).

Callan

Callan the movie, 1974.

production details
UK / ABC – Thames / 43x60m-e / Broadcast 8 July 1967 – 24 May 1972

Creator: James Mitchell / Developed by James Mitchell and Terence Feeley / Theme Music: Jack Trombey / Associate Producer: Terence Feeley / Executive Producer: Lloyd Shirley / Producer: Reginald Collin

cast
EDWARD WOODWARD as David Callan
RUSSELL HUNTER as Lonely
ANTHONY VALENTINE as Toby Meres
PATRICK MOWER as Cross
Hunter was played by RONALD RADD, MICHAEL GOODLIFFE, DEREK BOND, AND WILLIAM SQUIRE,

THE EPISODES
ARMCHAIR THEATRE SERIES 9 EPISODE 2
A MAGNUM FOR SCHNEIDER (4 Feb 1967)

SERIES 1 8 July – 12 August 1967
1. THE GOOD ONES ARE ALL DEAD (8 July 1967)
2. GOODBYE NOBBY CLARKE (15 July 1967)
3. THE DEATH OF ROBERT E. LEE (22 July 1967)
4. GOODNESS BURNS TOO BRIGHT (29 July 1967)
5. BUT HE’S A LORD MR CALLAN (5 Aug 1967)
6. YOU SHOULD HAVE GOT HERE SOONER (12 Aug 1967)

SERIES 2 8 January – 16 April 1969
1. RED KNIGHT, WHITE KNIGHT (8 Jan 1969)
2. THE MOST PROMISING GIRL OF HER YEAR (15 Jan 1969)
3. YOU’RE UNDER STARTER’S ORDERS (22 Jan 1969)
4. THE LITTLE BITS AND PIECES OF LOVE (29 Jan 1969)
5. LET’S KILL EVERYBODY (5 Feb 1969)
6. HEIR APPARENT (12 Feb 1969)
7. LAND OF LIGHT AND PEACE (19 Feb 1969)
8. BLACKMAILERS SHOULD BE DISCOURAGED (26 Feb 1969)
9. DEATH OF A FRIEND (5 Mar 1969)
10. JACK-ON-TOP (12 Mar 1969)
11. ONCE A BIG MAN, ALWAYS A BIG MAN (19 Mar 1969)
12. THE RUNNING DOG (26 Mar 1969)
13. THE WORST SOLDIER I EVER SAW (2 Apr 1969)
14. NICE PEOPLE DIE AT HOME (9 Apr 1969)
15. DEATH OF A HUNTER (16 Apr 1969)

SERIES 3 8 April – 24 June 1970
1. WHERE ELSE COULD I GO? (8 Apr 1970)
2. SUMMONED TO APPEAR (15 Ap 1970)
3. THE SAME TRICK TWICE (22 Apr 1970)
4. A VILLAGE CALLED “G” (13 May 1970)
5. SUDDENLY – AT HOME (20 May 1970)
6. ACT OF KINDNESS (27 May 1970)
7. GOD HELP YOUR FRIENDS (3 June 1970)
8. BREAKOUT (10 June 1970)
9. AMOS GREEN MUST LIVE (24 June 1970)

SERIES 4 1 March – 24 May 1972
1. THAT’LL BE THE DAY (1 Mar 1972)
2. CALL ME SIR! (8 Mar 1972)
3. FIRST REFUSAL (15 Mar 1972)
4. RULES OF THE GAME (22 Mar 1972)
5. IF HE CAN, SO COULD I (29 Mar 1972)
6. NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS (5 Apr 1972)
7. CHARLIE SAYS IT’S GOODBYE (12 Apr 1972)
8. I NEVER WANTED THE JOB (19 Apr 1972)
9. THE CARRIER (26 Apr 1972)
10. THE CONTRACT (3 May 1972)
11. THE RICHMOND FILE 1: CALL ME ENEMY (10 May 1972)
12. THE RICHMOND FILE 2: DO YOU RECOGNISE THE WOMAN? (17 May 1972)
13. THE RICHMOND FILE 3: A MAN LIKE ME (24 May 1972)

MOVIE
CALLAN (1974)

TV MOVIE
WET JOB (2 September 1981)

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TV

Ape And Essence (The Wednesday Play BBC-1 1966, Alec McCowen)

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In Scifi drama Ape and Essence, based on the novel by Aldous Huxley, a group of New Zealand scientists conduct a survey on a Britain ravaged by atomic war 80 years previously.

Series: The Wednesday Play Season 2 Episode 29

cast
Alec McCowen as Alfred Poole
Robert Eddison as Arch Vicar
Derek Sydney as Chief
Jenny Lee as Flossie
Yvonne Antrobus as Young Girl
Sydney Bromley as Craigie
Martin Carroll as Director of Food
Hazel Douglas as Mies Hook
John Falconer as Patriarch
Petra Markham as Loola
Ken Parry as Science Praet
Amanda Reiss as Polly
Jonathan Scott as Int. Priest
Fiona Fraser as Part of Crowd
Ann Mitchell as Shaven-Head
Jacki Salt as Mulatto Girl
Carol Blake as Shaven-Head
Gordon Craig as Part of Crowd
Robert Cude as First Man

crew details
Writer: John Finch
Book: Aldous Huxley
Music: BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Producer: Peter Luke
Director: David Benedictus.

production details
Country: UK
Network and Production Companies: BBC One
Duration: 1×75 minute episode
Aired From: 18 May 1966

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TV

Plane Makers, The (ITV 1963-1965, Patrick Wymark, Barbara Murray)

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Plane Makers Patrick Wymark

Drama series The Plane Makers took us behind the scenes in the boardroom and shop floor of the Scott Furlong Aircraft Factory. After two seasons the lead character John Wilder took a place on the board of a merchant bank and the series was then renamed The Power Game.

cast
Patrick Wymark as John Wilder
Jack Watling as Don Henderson
Barbara Murray as Pamela Wilder (Seasons 1-2)
Ann Firbank as Pamela Wilder (Season 3)
Reginald Marsh as Arthur Sugden
Alan Dobie as David Corbett

crew details
Creator: Wilfred Greatorex
Producers: Rex Firkin (seasons 1-2), David Reid (season 3)

production details
Country: UK
Network: ITV – ATV
Duration: 57×50 minute episodes
Aired From: 4 February 1963 – 12 January 1965 black and white

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TV

Running Wild (ITV 1987, Ray Brooks, Janet Key)

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Sitcom Running Wild was about the ups and downs of separated couple, Max and Babs, trying to get on with their lives. In season two Max wants to return to his wife but Babs is not so keen.

cast
Ray Brooks as Max Wild
Janet Key as Babs Wild
Sharon Duce as Wanda
Michelle Collins as Stephanie Wild
Peter Amory as Rob
Berwick Kaler as Tom Coleman (Season 1)
Brigit Forsyth as Jenny (Season 2)

crew details
Writer: Philip Trewinnard
Producers: Marcus Plantin (Season 1), Derrick Goodwin (Season 2)
Directors: Vic Finch (Season 1), Derrick Goodwin (Season 2)

production details
Country: UK
Network and Production Companies: ITV – London Weekend Television
Duration: 13×25 minute episodes
Aired From: 6 March 1987 – 4 June 1989

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