Tuesday, 2 May 2017
First viewed : Summer 1984
This was the next in the series of Channel Four's "classic" repeats although in this case they only started halfway through when the series switched to colour for the third season in 1970. I was aware of Callan's reputation but it hadn't fired my imagination in the same way as The Prisoner.
Callan concerned the activities of a small secret services unit specialising in black ops to remove threats to national security. Callan ( Edward Woodward in his signature role ) was an assassin who wanted to be patriotic but hated the actual act of killing and was constantly questioning himself in contrast to his colleague Mears ( Anthony Valentine ), an upper class psychopath. Their superior Hunter , like Number Two in The Prisoner , was played by a number of different actors but most successfully by William Squire. Callan's only friend was a low-life police informer Lonely ( Russell Hunter ) who somehow always managed to be useful to him. Clifford Rose limbered up for Kessler as Snell, the section's doctor who had a liberal interpretation of the Hippocratic Oath.
Despite the series's popularity, it retained a low budget feel. Episodes had a restricted cast and while that stopped me from fully embracing it, I can appreciate that it helped to capture the murky, claustrophobic world in which these people operated. I watched it semi-regularly but it never became appointment TV.