From: Paul Duncan ( paul.duncan@asml.nl)
Date: 20 Jan 2000

Callan was a brilliant, noir spy series. Edward Woodward played Callan a hitman who worked for the government, but had a conscience and needed to be convinced that the person deserved to be killed. His boss, Hunter, would order and cajole Callan until the job was done - often Hunter would double-cross Callan, which added to the tension. Callan took out all his frustration on his stool pigeon, Lonely - Callan would degrade and belittle him, telling Lonely how much he smelt (it was a medical condition that no soap could cure).

The series went on for several years, and ended with Callan going to jail for murder (after being double-crossed by Hunter yet again). A couple of years later, a new series started, and began with Callan getting out of jail. I saw most of these episodes when they were repeated on Channel 4 in the UK and they hold up very, very well - much better than Woodward's American series The Equalizer and the most recent one, whatever it's called.

Many years after the series ended, James Mitchell, who created the series and wrote many episodes, wrote a one-off TV film called The Wet Job, and it was just as good as the series.

Mitchell wrote a Callan novel called A Magnum For Schneider, which was made into a couple of TV episodes, and was then re-made as a film. This novel has been reprinted as Red File For Callan and simply Callan. Mitchell wrote at least one more Callan novel, which I have but not to hand. Mitchell wrote a crime novel called One Away, about a man escaping from jail, which is good.

In the 80s Mitchell created the TV series When The Boat Comes In, and novelised it. Most of his subsequent output has not been hardboiled.

- paul

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