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Callan Monochrome DVDs

Sunday, 21 February 2010 19:36

Edward Woodward gives an enigmatic performance as the agent who falls into becoming a professional killer working for British Intelligence. Callan became an iconic hero at the time, making Woodward one of the highest profile actors on TV, something that would eventually transfer to Trans-Atlantic success. This release is a fine epitaph for one of the actor’s most famous roles.

Created by James Mitchell (of When the Boat Comes In fame) this series explored the dingy, twilight world of the professional spy. Callan was the antithesis of James Bond and presented television with a realistic portrayal of government espionage. The format ran from 1967 to 1972. With shady help from Lonely (Russell Hunter), Callan found his every move being manipulate from ‘The Section’ by ‘Hunter’ - a name used by the current Section Chief, much like ‘M’ in Bond, and explains the constant rotation of actors playing the role.

Callan - The Monochrome YearsThis DVD set contains the original Armchair Theatre pilot play that started it all, “A Magnum for Schneider”, along with all the remaining black and white episodes from series one and two - unseen in nearly forty years and available for the first time in any format here. The archives haven’t been kind to this monochrome era – only two season one stories, and nine from season two, still exist.

The pilot episode aired in February 1967, and the mesmerising character drilled into the public's imagination. As a result the six episode first series was commissioned. It may have been monochrome, but the characters and storylines were technicolour. 15 more episodes comprised a second series, before the show made the jump to colour for a third and fourth series (9 and 13 episodes respectively, which have been made more widely available over the years, due to the hostility of some to good old black and white episodes!).

A cinema film, “Callan” followed in 1974, directed by Don Sharp and was an extended re-staging of the original pilot. Callan was last seen in the 1981 feature-length story “Wet Job” - now retired from ‘The Section’. They consider him vulnerable, volatile, and very dangerous.

In terms of quality, the pilot does have some little flecks of drop-out, but is eminently watchable. The two season one episodes do suffer from the horizontal lines you get on some video recordings from 425 line origins, but at least they exist, so it’s better than having had the whole season junked. Season two episodes are far more stable in comparison, but we have to remember the origins of these recordings – it really is just a combination of chance that any of them are still around.  You really do get the feeling that you’re watching something of an archaeological dig, and the related pleasure that brings.

Callan – The Monochrome Years is a four disc set with a running time of approx 600 minutes.  It is certificate ‘12’ with a RRP of £29.99, or less from


Episode Listing

Edward Woodward as David Callan    

Russell Hunter as Lonely               

Anthony Valentine as Toby Meres  (played by Peter Bowles in the pilot, and Peter Egan in the film)

Michael Goodliffe, Derek Bond & William Squire as ‘Hunter’ (played by Ronald Radd in the pilot, and Eric Porter in the film)

Patrick Mower as James Cross

Lisa Langdon as Liz, Hunter's Secretary (played by Judy Champ in the pilot, and Veronica Lang in the film)

Clifford Rose as Snell          




0.1 Armchair Theatre “A Magnum for Schneider”

Original ITV Transmission: 4 February 1967


Season One


1.1 “The Good Ones Are All Dead”

Original ITV Transmission: 8 July 1967


1.2 “Goodbye, Nobby Clarke” *

Original ITV Transmission: 15 July 1967

Missing from Archives – Not included in Network release.


1.3 “The Death of Robert E Lee” *

Original ITV Transmission: 22 July 1967

Missing from Archives – Not included in Network release.


1.4 “Goodness Burns Too Bright” *

Original ITV Transmission: 29 July 1967

Missing from Archives – Not included in Network release.


1.5 “But He's a Lord, Mr Callan” *

Original ITV Transmission: 5 August 1967

Missing from Archives – Not included in Network release.


1.6 “You Should Have Got Here Sooner”

Original ITV Transmission: 12 August 1967


Season Two


2.1 “Red Knight, White Knight”

Original ITV Transmission: 8 January 1969


2.2 “The Most Promising Girl of Her Year”

Original ITV Transmission: 15 January 1969


2.3 “You're Under Starter's Orders” *

Original ITV Transmission: 22 January 1969

Missing from Archives – Not included in Network release.


2.4 “The Little Bits and Pieces of Love”

Original ITV Transmission: 29 January 1969


2.5 “Let's Kill Everybody”

Original ITV Transmission: 5 February 1969


2.6 “Heir Apparent”

Original ITV Transmission: 12 February 1969


2.7 “Land of Light and Peace” *

Original ITV Transmission: 19 February 1969

Missing from Archives – Not included in Network release.


2.8 “Blackmailers Should Be Discouraged” *

Original ITV Transmission: 26 February 1969

Missing from Archives – Not included in Network release.


2.9 “Death of a Friend”

Original ITV Transmission: 5 March 1969


2.10 “Jack-On-Top” *

Original ITV Transmission: 12 March 1969

Missing from Archives – Not included in Network release.


2.11 “Once a Big Man, Always a Big Man” *

Original ITV Transmission: 19 March 1969

Missing from Archives – Not included in Network release.


2.12 “The Running Dog” *

Original ITV Transmission: 26 March 1969

Missing From Archives – Not included in Network release.


2.13 “The Worst Soldier I Ever Saw”

Original ITV Transmission: 2 April 1969


2.14 “Nice People Die at Home”

Original ITV Transmission: 9 April 1969


2.15 “Death of a Hunter”

Original ITV Transmission: 16 April 1969


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37