Callan: The Movie on YouTube

Some enterprising soul has uploaded the whole of Callan: The Movie (aka This is Callan) onto YouTube. God bless ’em.

For the unenlightened, Callan, starring future Equalizer Edward Woodward, was one of the best spy shows of the 60s, eschewing the flash and escapism of James Bond, The Man From UNCLE, The Avengers et al in favour of a far more downbeat, Ipcress File approach to spies.

David Callan, a regular ex-army working class man who lives in a grotty flat and does menial clerical jobs to make ends meet, is really one of the guys who does the dirty work for the British government: assassinations, blackmail, kidnappings and more. Although the plots are cracking Cold War fun, as much of the show is about Callan’s feelings of guilt over his work, as well as his fear that if he can’t do the job any more, he’ll end up in a ‘red file’ just like his victims. There’s also the interplay with his rather smelly informant (Russell Hunter), understandably nicknamed ‘Lonely’, his far posher partners Meres (played first by Peter Bowles then by Anthony Valentine) and Cross (Patrick Mower), and his revolving series of bosses, all of whom are called ‘Hunter’.

It’s quite dark and nasty, so I love it. I’ve droned on about it elsewhere so you can read there for more info. It’s worth checking out – particularly the black and white episodes if you can find them, but the colour ones are available from various bargain stores, I’m sure (they’re a bit over-priced on Amazon at the moment), and the movie is available from Amazon at a more reasonable rate.

The movie is really just another adaptation of the original Armchair Theatre play that launched the series in the 60s, A Magnum For Schneider. It has few of the original cast, only Woodward and Hunter, with Peter Egan stepping into Valentine’s shoes and Eric Porter becoming the last in a long line of Hunters (until the 80s ‘reunion episode’ Wet Job). It also has an awful theme tune, which is sad, because the Callan title sequence is one of the most iconic in TV history – and I’ve put it below for your enjoyment. Nevertheless, the movie does give you a flavour of the show’s downbeat style and is better than nothing. It should be easily digestible in nine minute chunks and the first part, which I’ve put at the top of the post, gets to the point very quickly.