Classic British TV spy drama, starring Edward Woodward as Callan, a reluctant top assassin.(1967 – 1972) 4 Seasons, 44 Episodes
Available on ITV, Netflix, Amazon
The Guardian’s Caroyn Reese‘s review:
He painted model soldiers, unlocked the sink, and shot enemy agents: Edward Woodward’s chippy, moody secret service assassin may have been TV’s first anti-hero.
Played with controlled intensity by Edward Woodward, David Callan is a working-class loner, reluctantly yet ruthlessly stitching up or shutting up Eastern Bloc agents, ex-Nazis and possible security risks, all at the behest of a murky section of British intelligence. “All the rotten jobs,” as he puts it.
With just three TV channels to choose from, an evening’s viewing in the late 1960s was somewhat limited. But even if there had been more, Callan would still have led the field: in a time before video recorders, this seminal spy series from ITV – with its iconic swinging-lightbulb title sequence, its sharp scripts and cracking characters – was stay-in TV.
The show turned the James Bond image on its head. Callan, possibly TV’s first antihero, is the section’s top killer, addicted to his own deadliness. Unlike Bond, he is unglamorous, insecure, has no love of Queen and country, and lives in a dingy flat where we occasionally find him making model soldiers (his colleagues goad him by calling them toy soldiers) and unblocking the sink. But he is the show’s moral compass, such as it is, displaying a sensitivity lacking in his fellow agents: posh Meres (Anthony Valentine) and cocky Cross (Patrick Mower). This he does by constantly questioning the orders of his boss, Hunter, and helping the section’s unwitting victims. MORE…