The Callan File - 3
by Laurence Marcus
Series Three of Callan began on 8th April 1970. Like most other new series of that period Thames decided to film this series in colour, no doubt keeping one eye on international sales. Picking up twelve months after he had been almost fatally shot by Toby Meres, we meet Callan the day before he is to be discharged from hospital. Although The Section has looked after Callan and exonerated him from all blame in the assassination of Hunter, there are still grave concerns regarding his mental state and the security risk he poses. Hunter dispatches an agent to the hospital to make contact with Callan. But it is not Toby Meres. Perhaps fearing there may be old scores to settle, Meres has been sent to work in Washington for the Americans (Anthony Valentine had in fact 'defected' to the BBC to make the series Codename). In his place is a slightly younger man who is perhaps a little too brash for his own good: James Cross, played by Patrick Mower.
Patrick Mower was born in Oxford to a Welsh father and English mother. Mower used to run a youth club for the local church in Oxford before he married, while he was training to be an engineering draughtsman. He told the TV Times in 1972 that he had two brothers, one an arms dealer, married to a Persian: the other in the Australian outback with five children and more to come. Mower later discovered that his father had been married before, and he had three half-sisters in Wales of whose existence he had been unaware. In his 2007 autobiography, Mower states that having believed for years that his year of birth was 1940, he discovered that his birth was not registered and he may have been born on 12th September 1938 or 1939. He finished his apprenticeship to please his father, a miner who had all the hard times in the Thirties and decided to get out before he got silicosis like his brother. So he went to work in a pressed steel factory in Oxford and insisted Patrick learn a trade. "I went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art on a scholarship when my apprenticeship was over. My father died two years after seeing me reach the pinnacle."
Callan's actions in the final episode of Series Two also meant The Section needed a new Hunter. William Squire, born April 29th 1916 in Neath, South Wales, became an actor of stage, film and television. As a stage actor, Squire performed at Stratford-upon-Avon and at the Old Vic, and notably replaced his fellow-countryman Richard Burton as King Arthur in Camelot at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway. His screen roles included Thomas More in the 1969 film version of Maxwell Anderson's play Anne of the Thousand Days. In a set of Encyclopaedia Britannica-produced educational films about William Shakespeare's Macbeth, Squire played the role of Macbeth. This was in keeping with his long career as a Shakespearean actor, which included roles in the classic 1960s TV series, An Age of Kings.
Low on reliable agents, the new Hunter would rather have a fighting fit Callan back in The Section than damaged goods left to his own devices and a constant concern to him. So he slyly sets Callan a task to prove his worth. On the advice of The Section’s interrogative psychologist (Snell - actor Clifford Rose), the only way Callan will be able to prove himself is to defy his new boss, and so Hunter uses Callan's Achilles heel, his odorous friend Lonely, as the bait to hook his prize. Having been 'fit up' by The Section, Lonely is being held on remand for the offence of larceny which, given his previous criminal record will almost certainly result in a long term of imprisonment. Callan blackmails The Section into paying out Lonely's £3,000 bail security, but not before threatening to kill Hunter. It's at this point that Hunter knows he has his man back. Squires' Hunter was far more cold and ruthless than his predecessors and his marksmanship, demonstrated several times in The Sections armoury, suggests that he had experience in the field rather than being a mere civil servant. It's in this episode that we learn that David Callan is not our anti-hero's real name. When recognised by a former army colleague Callan tells him "I've changed my name since then."
Russell Hunter returned as Lonely and Clifford Rose reprised his role as Snell. Also returning was Lisa Langdon as the ever-reliable Liz. Except in one particular episode Liz proves less than her reliable self when she goes missing from The Section - an act that causes Hunter great concern. The character of Liz is much expanded in this episode. The sole survivor of a village in Poland that was a centre for the resistance during the Second World War, when the Germans discovered it they wiped it out killing every man, woman and child, three-year old Liz escaped when her father managed to hide her behind a bookcase, just before the SS shot him, his wife and their three sons. Liz stayed hidden for two days until discovered by some looters. For the next nine years she ended up in a succession of refugee camps. Then an English couple called March adopted her. Her adopted father worked as a cipher clerk in the foreign office. He had been involved in Polish underground liaison during the war and as such had come to notice of The Section, during the years of the Cold War, as a possible security breach. Tragedy struck when the March's were killed by a drunk hit-and-run driver. Liz, fluent in Polish, Russian and German was just what the Section wanted. As Hunter says: "No relations. No one she loved. No one who could be used against her. Or against us." Liz has knowledge and access to files that make her a potential target for any rival foreign power. And as such, she is permanently in a red file.
As Series Three progresses Callan's reputation and standing within The Section grows. This was unfortunately lost on original transmission as Thames Television showed the series episodes out of sequence. It wasn't until the Network DVD release (May 2010), where the episodes were reordered chronologically, that the full impact of Callan's growing importance to The Section could be fully appreciated. The transmission order for Series Three is as follows: 1. Where Else Could I Go? (8th April 1970): 2. Summoned to Appear (15th April 1970): 3. The Same Trick Twice (22nd April 1970): 4. A Village Called ‘G’ (13th May 1970): 5. Suddenly - at Home (20th May 1970): 6. Act of Kindness (27th May 1970): 7. God Help Your Friends (3rd June 1970): 8. Breakout (10th June 1970): 9. Amos Green Must Live (24th June 1970). The correct order for these episodes is: 1. Where Else Could I Go? 2. Summoned To Appear. 3. The Same Trick Twice. 4. Act of Kindness. 5. Amos Green Must Live. 6. God Help Your Friends. 7. A Village Called 'G'. 8. Suddenly At Home 9. Breakout.
Viewers had to wait until April 1972 for the fourth (and final) series of Callan. The new series was featured on the front cover of the February 26th issue of the TV Times - a so-called Emergency Issue. At that time Britain was gripped in political unrest. With the economy threatened by runaway inflation, the Government had announced a cap on pay rises which resulted in industrial action by the country's coal miners. The effect was that commercial users of electricity would be limited to three specified consecutive days' consumption each week. TV Times also fell foul of this three-day week policy and, at times, was only able to print a smaller edition of the magazine in black and white. On the week that Callan started they offered the following apology: 'We're sorry that this edition of TV Times could not be published in its usual form, but power cuts took their toll of our printing arrangements. We have cut the price as well as the number of pages. Callan is back...and there's another reason we're sorry we have to present you with this emergency edition. We were to have made a very special announcement involving Callan and Edward Woodward. (Callan had come out top of a TV Times readers' poll as Most Compulsive TV Character (male) while Woodward himself was voted Best TV Actor - the announcement was held over until the next full edition of TV Times on March 11th). The edition did, however, manage to feature a small article on the actress Queenie Watts who returned to the series, after a brief appearance in Series Three, as Lonely's aunt.
Series Four began on Wednesday 1st March 1974 at 9pm. The Section has buried Callan who is, in fact, being held prisoner in Russia. A job in East Berlin had gone wrong with the result of Callan being arrested by the police and turned over to the KGB. He has been held captive for almost six weeks and slowly interrogated with the use of mind-bending drugs. He is almost a broken man, but still refusing to disclose anything other than the most basic of information to the Russian doctor (the KGB's equivalent of The Section's doctor Snell - played by Julian Glover) charged with breaking him down completely. As his captors prepare to give Callan a massive dose of the truth drug that could possibly destroy his mind, a deal is done with the British Intelligence Service to exchange him for a captured Russian operative - Richmond (T.P. McKenna). It's a deal that Hunter disapproves of, but one that is ordered by his superior, Bishop (Geoffrey Chater). Once he is returned to England, Callan makes it quite clear that he wishes to resign as a field operative. The Section now sees Callan as a liability. The Russians know his face and he is now their prime target. However, as for retirement: The Section has other ideas. Having proved his worth as their best agent and a master tactician, Callan is offered the role of Head of Section: The new Hunter. With no other options, and the threat of being red-filed once again, he unwillingly accepts. But Callan's tenure as Hunter is a rocky one, and it culminates in the death of James Cross, the return of the previous Hunter, and the return of Callan's old partner in crime and adversary, Toby Meres. The final three episodes of Series Four form a trilogy with the umbrella title of 'The Richmond File'. Ultimately, Callan defies Hunter, who threatens to finally break him.
Series Four episodes were: 1. That'll Be the Day (1st March 1972): 2. Call Me Sir! (8th March 1972): 3. First Refusal (15th March 1972): 4. Rules of the Game (22nd March 1972) 5. If He Can, So Could I (29th March 1972): 6. None of Your Business (5th April 1972): 7. Charlie Says It's Goodbye (12th April 1972): 8. I Never Wanted the Job (19th April 1972): 9. The Carrier (26th April 1972): 10. The Contract (3rd May 1972): 11. The Richmond File: Call Me Enemy (10 May 1972): 12. The Richmond File: Do You Recognise the Woman? (17 May, 1972): 13. The Richmond File: A Man Like Me (24th May 1972).
According to Edward Woodward, it was a mutual decision to finish the series after the fourth season. James Mitchell felt he had written as many as he could (30 of the 43 episodes made – including the AT original) and a beckoning film career meant that Woodward no longer wanted to be tied to a long-running TV series. But he wasn't quite finished with the character of David Callan just yet. In 1974 Callan transferred to the big screen. The movie is an expanded version of the original Armchair Theatre presentation and closely based on James Mitchell's 1969 novelisation A Magnum for Schneider, later released as Red File for Callan (March 1971) and Callan (August 1974). Mitchell also wrote three other Callan books - Death and Bright Water (1974), Smear Job (1975) and Bonfire Night (2002).
For the movie there were numerous cast changes. Only Woodward, Russell Hunter (Lonely) and Clifford Rose (Snell) reprised their TV roles. Veronica Lang was Hunter's Secretary, called Jenny. Hunter was played by Eric Porter and Toby Meres by Peter Egan. Both actors gave fine performances playing roles already established on television but without delivering the same cold and threatening manner. This, and a far less atmospheric musical score (by Wilfred Joseph) let down an otherwise decent attempt at bringing Callan to the cinema, and thereby an international audience. Seven years later, in 1981, Callan and Lonely were reunited for a one-off 90-minute special, entitled 'Wet Job'. Callan has been retired and running a gun shop under the name 'Tucker' for the last ten years. But the Section has one more job for him. Edward Woodward and Russell Hunter reprised their roles, with Hugh Walters taking on the part of the latest Hunter.
Apart from James Mitchell, a number of other writers worked on various episodes of Callan. These included Robert Banks Stewart, Trevor Preston and William Emms. Producers included John Kershaw, Lloyd Shirley and Terence Feely, but the most prolific of these was Reginald Collin who produced 35 episodes between 1969 and 1972. Reginald Collin was born in 1927, in East London. The family moved to Harrow shortly after the start of the war. Leaving school during the height of the Blitz, his first job, at the age of fourteen, was that of lab boy at the Westminster Hospital in London. A month after the war finished he was called up for National Service. Upon his eventual discharge he won a scholarship to The Old Vic Theatre School. Weekly Rep followed and then some years directing pantomimes and summer shows. In 1959 he was asked to join ABC Television becoming a director in the Features Department where he created the arts programme Tempo. He then moved to the Drama Department. For Callan he received the award of Best Drama Producer 1969, and this was later followed by two nominations from BAFTA and awards for Services to the Industry. He was also awarded a Fellowship by The Royal Television society for "Recognition of an outstanding contribution to the furtherance of television."
James Mitchell returned to his native Tyneside to create 'When the Boat Comes In' (1976-77, 1981), which followed the trials and tribulations of a former army sergeant, Jack Ford, and the Seaton family in South Shields between the wars. The drama's writing and production values, including scenes of crumbling slums, succeeded in portraying the hard times endured by the urban poor. Mitchell wrote novels about the characters featured in Callan and When the Boat Comes In, and lived in London at the time of his greatest television successes. He later returned to the North-East to live in Jesmond. James Mitchell died in Newcastle upon Tyne on 15th September 2002.
Ronald Radd - Hunter number 1, made a guest appearance in the first episode of the final season of Callan. He is seen sitting in church as the vicar delivers the eulogy for Callan at his 'funeral.' In 1969 he appeared in John Huston's The Kremlin Letter. Radd worked alongside actors such as a very young Robert Redford and Jason Robards. Radd also appeared in the NBC production of The Tempest playing the role of the drunkard Stefano, alongside acclaimed actors such as Richard Burton who portrayed Caliban and Maurice Evans, star of many Hallmark productions later. In 1971 he was nominated for Broadway's Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured actor. He died in Toronto, Ontario, Canada of a brain haemorrhage in 1976 aged 47.
Lawrence Michael Andrew Goodliffe - Hunter number 2, suffered from depression and had a breakdown in 1976 during the period that he was rehearsing for a revival of Equus. He committed suicide a few days later by leaping from a hospital fire escape, whilst a patient at the Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon, London.
Derek William Douglas Bond - Hunter number 3, was President of the Actors' Union Equity for a tempestuous period during the 1980s. In 1984, because of his intention to perform in South Africa, the country's apartheid system was the cause of a UN backed cultural boycott, a motion urging Bond to resign was proposed, but rejected, in July 1984. He later resigned when a ban on members working in South Africa became union policy after his return to the UK. He died 15th October 2006, in London.
Anthony Valentine's other TV appearances include 'Colditz', 'Space: 1999', 'Minder' playing Maurice, a professional gambler, 'Tales of the Unexpected', 'Bergerac', 'Robin of Sherwood', 'Boon', 'Lovejoy', 'The House of Elliott', 'The Bill' and 'New Tricks'. He also narrated the three Wildlife Explorer documentary films & played a South London thug in the cult classic film 'Performance'. Later television work includes an episode of Agatha Christie's 'Poirot', a further episode of 'The Commander' in which he reprises his role of Commissioner Edward Sumpter and an episode of the popular series 'Heartbeat'. Recent television roles are as Nuremberg Prison Commandant Burton C. Andrus in the 2006 BBC docudrama 'Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial' and as Jimmy "The Gent" Vincent in ITV's 'The Last Detective'. In September 2009 he joined the cast of the British soap 'Coronation Street' as a character called George Wilson.
William Squire - Hunter number 4, went on to play Sir Daniel Brackley in 12 episodes of the TV series 'Black Arrow' in 1974, Sir George Fielding in 10 episodes of 'The Venturers' in 1975 and was the voice of Gandalf in the 1978 animated version of 'The Lord of the Rings'. He also appeared in the 1979 'Doctor Who' serial 'The Armageddon Factor'. In 1967 William Squire married the actress Juliet Harmer, who appeared in 'Adam Adamant Lives!' He died in London on 3rd May 1989. There is a park bench on Hampstead Heath dedicated to him.
Patrick Mower caused something of a stir when his character James Cross was killed off in the series. Distraught female fans jammed the ITV switchboard with phone-calls. The following night he was hurriedly booked onto Eamonn Andrews' 'Today' programme. He said he enjoyed his time on the show but, afraid of being typecast, wasn't sorry to go. Following 'Callan' he went on to appear as DCI Tom Haggerty in 'Special Branch' alongside George Sewell, and DS Steve Hackett in the police series 'Target'. He is currently starring in the ITV soap opera 'Emmerdale'.
Russell Hunter acted in the Hammer horror film 'Taste the Blood of Dracula' (1970) and took the roles of Crumbles, Dr Fogg and Dr Makepeace in an ITV production of' Sweeney Todd' (1970), He also appeared in the British comedy film 'Up Pompeii' (film) (1971) as the Jailor. Hunter's other TV credits include 'The Sweeney', 'Doctor Who', 'Farrington of the F.O.', 'The Bill', 'A Touch of Frost', sitcoms 'Rule Brittania' (1975) as the Scotsman Jock McGregor and shop steward in 'The Gaffer' (1981-83), and his last ever TV appearance, in the BBC drama 'Born and Bred'. In his last years he reprised his Doctor Who role for a series of audio plays released on CD, Kaldor City. He also appeared as different characters in the pilot and series of the BBC sitcom 'Rab C. Nesbitt'. Although in the advanced stages of cancer, Hunter's last theatrical stint was in the Sidney Lumet play '12 Angry Men' at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, with which he had remained inextricably linked. Despite being ill, Hunter received positive reviews for his appearances in the feature film 'American Cousins' late in 2003 and as a priest in the film 'Skagerrak'. In November, American Cousins, Hunter's last movie role, received the Special Jury Prize at the Savannah Film Festival in the United States, ending a career spanning six decades. Russell Hunter died on February 26th 2004, aged 79, at Edinburgh's Western General Hospital of lung cancer.
Edward Woodward's portrayal of the cynical secret service agent Callan, bought him worldwide critical acclaim. In the 1980s he went to America to star in 'The Equalizer', as Robert McCall, a former secret service agent for "The Company" (the CIA) who had turned to working as a private investigator. Set in Manhattan, the series was particularly popular in the United States where Woodward won a Golden Globe award for best actor in a dramatic television series in 1987, and was nominated five times for an Emmy. But a gruelling work schedule meant that Woodward was working 18-hour days, subsisting on a daily diet of junk food and 100 cigarettes. On his return to England he suffered a heart attack. He recovered, and in 1990 starred in another American television series, 'Over My Dead Body', in which he played a mystery writer solving real crimes. Although it proved to be short-lived, it led the following year to his much more successful ITV true crime drama documentary series 'In Suspicious Circumstances', in which he guided viewers through some of the most celebrated British crimes of the 20th century.
In the cinema Woodward gave a notably moving performance in the title role of 'Breaker Morant' (1980), the Australian film about a shocking injustice in the Boer War. On the big screen he also played Sergeant Neil Howie, alongside Christopher Lee and Diane Cilento, in 'The Wicker Man' (1973); Commander Powell in 'Who Dares Wins' (1982); Saul in 'King David'; the Ghost of Christmas Present in 'A Christmas Carol'; Merlin in 'Merlin and the Sword'; Captain Haldane in 'The Young Winston'; the racehorse trainer Josh Gifford in 'Champions'; and Sergeant Wellbeloved in 'Stand Up Virgin Soldiers'. Despite suffering from ill health, he starred as the Rev Frederick Densham in 'A Congregation of Ghosts'. Woodward had a fine tenor voice, appearing on a number of occasions in 'The Good Old Days' and making a dozen LPs. He was appointed OBE in 1978.
Woodward married Venetia Mary Collett in 1952, with whom he had two sons and a daughter, all of whom became successful actors. The marriage was dissolved in 1986, and he remarried in 1987, the actress Michele Dotrice, daughter of the actor Roy Dotrice and best known for her role as Betty Spencer in 'Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em.'
In 1996 Woodward underwent triple heart bypass surgery, and in 2003 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He continued to appear on TV and film and gently lampooned his screen persona as an overly zealous member of a neighbourhood watch group in the comedy 'Hot Fuzz' (2007). He had a brief role in 'The Bill' in 2008, and in 2009 appeared in the British soap opera 'EastEnders', playing Tommy Clifford, a character harbouring a guilty secret. Edward Woodward died 16th November 2009.
In 'Callan', Woodward created one of the most memorable and iconic characters of all time, on British television. One critic wrote: "Woodward was that rarity in the entertainment world: one who specialised in nothing much, yet appeared to be especially talented in whatever he took on: villains, heroes, characters from melodrama and the musical comedy stage – all were tackled with a superb professionalism." His performance as the reluctant spy David Callan can be enjoyed again in two Network DVD releases Callan – The Monochrome Years and Callan – The Colour Years.
Laurence Marcus April 2010.
Sources of Research: Various original TV Times articles. Callan DVD Episodes. Wikipedia.
Interview with Edward Woodward (2000) for Callan - the movie DVD release.