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Thread: Callan (1967-1972)

  1. #1
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul A J Lewis's Avatar
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    Callan (1967-1972)

    Is anyone else a fan of this brilliant television series? As far as I know, only
    series three has been released to DVD (the first series to be shot in colour). I've only seen the colour episodes (in repeats on UK television, and via the DVD box set), but I'd love to see the B&W episodes; does anyone know if they are available anywhere in the world?

    I'm surprised that, with all the love given to James Bond in the General Discussion forum, CALLAN hasn't got its own thread yet; or has the show had very little airing outside the UK?

    Edward Woodward is brilliant in this show: intense, brooding and at times full of wrath. I would have loved to see him play Bond at some point but, alas, it was never to be; his intensity and the hints of a character whose job brings him into conflict with his own humanity, would have fitted in well with the Bond of the early Fleming novels.

    It's a really downbeat show: Woodward plays a very down-to-earth intelligence agent who is perpetually struggling with his ignorant, patronising superiors, who trust Callan because he's a professional, but who view him as a totally expendable asset. It's a very unromantic look at the life of a spy, and Callan's existence is very lonely: there are no glamorous women, and his only friend is a stooge named Lonely, who was introduced in later series and acted as a foil for Callan. Callan and Lonely would bicker, but the audience knew that they were both alone in the world, except for each other.

    If you haven't seen it already, I urge you to track down the R2 box set, as it's an excellent show, dark and intriguing.

    There was a fair movie adaptation in 1974 (entitled simply CALLAN), a reworking of the teleplay that kicked off the series ('A Magnum for Schneider'). But the series was far better.

    Here's an article about the show from the Screen Online site:
    http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tv/id/550887/

    Would anyone care to share their recollections of CALLAN?
    Cheers,
    Paul
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    Last edited by Paul A J Lewis; 04-07-2007 at 06:16 PM. Reason: Stray apostrophe

  2. #2
    Fanged Jonathan Douglas's Avatar
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    Re: Callan (1967-1972)

    Good legendary series co-starring Patrick Mower, though clearly done on a low budget. I have that ClearVision box-set too (wrongly labeled as Series 1.) The picture is in rather poor state for a videotaped series with annoying artificial zooms whenever there's something ClearVision doesn't want you to see. The company Network owns it now AFAIK, and it's planned for release somewhere down the line, with hopefully much better picture quality. I've never seen the b/w episodes either, but I suffer from a severe aversion to b/w TV so I'm sticking to the colour ones.
    As good as CALLAN is, there's IMO an even better British spy series, THE SANDBAGGERS (1978-1980), often hailed as the best spy series ever. It's out on R1 complete, and Series 1 is due on R2 in late August.

    Last edited by Jonathan Douglas; 05-18-2009 at 07:58 AM.
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  3. #3
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul A J Lewis's Avatar
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    Re: Callan (1967-1972)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Douglas
    The company Network owns it now AFAIK, and it's planned for release somewhere down the line, with hopefully much better picture quality.
    That's *really* good news, Jonathan. As nice as it is to own the current DVD set, the quality *does* leave a lot to be desired.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Douglas
    As good as CALLAN is, there's IMO an even better British spy series, THE SANDBAGGERS (1978-1980), often hailed as the best spy series ever. It's out on R1 complete, and Series 1 is due on R2 in late August.
    I wasn't aware that this was out on DVD; I've placed an order for the R2 boxset, and look forward to watching it.
    Cheers,
    Paul

  4. #4
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul A J Lewis's Avatar
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    Re: Callan (1967-1972)

    So Jonathan and I are the only saddos that love this show, eh?

    I got a nice email from a fellow Maniac a year or so ago, pointing out that the surviving episodes have found less than legitimate releases, as it appears that whoever owns the rights is reluctant to release the show for home video release thanks to the poor quality of the surviving episodes from series one and two. This is a real shame, but it doesn't explain why series four hasn't yet been released to DVD.

    Either way, I've finally splashed out on copies of the surviving episodes from series one, two and four. I wouldn't usually buy bootleg DVDs, but in this case I'll make an exception; however, it's taken me a couple of years to reach this decision, because in the meantime I've been waiting to see if further DVD releases were announced.

    Hopefully, the DVD-Rs will be with me this week.

    It's sad that CALLAN has mostly been forgotten by the general public. (However, I mentioned the show to my HNC evening class the other week, and we spent an hour or so talking about it.)

    I bloody love this show!

    That is all,
    Paul

  5. #5
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul A J Lewis's Avatar
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    Re: Callan (1967-1972)

    Somebody's put some CALLAN clips on YouTube:

    The title sequence from series three:


    This is a clip from series four:


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    Re: Callan (1967-1972)

    I imagine the versions on sale are those which have been torrented on UKNova over the last year (and are currently being torrented on Demonoid). Quality varies a lot.

    Big fan of Callan since watching it as a teenager. Surprising it isn't currently on R2 DVD given its popularity at the time.

    Series three has just been issued in Australia. I've read the quality is improved on the out of print Clear Vision discs so have ordered a set. The only extra is apparently a 2000 interview with Woodward though I suspect this may be the same one that is on the R2 DVD of the Callan movie.

    I don't know if you've seen the production documents on line here. The document pitching the first series of Callan is particularly interesting. It also contains synopses of some of the lost first season episodes.

  7. #7
    Fanged Jonathan Douglas's Avatar
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    Re: Callan (1967-1972)

    Thank for that clip, Paul. It's a bit of crime that CALLAN isn't on DVD fully yet, I wish I knew what the hold up is. Surely it's one of Britain's best loved drama/suspense series. The clip reminded me how I love Anthony Valentine, at least his series is out, the stories of the magnificent cat burglar RAFFLES (1977).
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    Re: Callan (1967-1972)

    My copy of the Australian Umbrella Entertainment box of Season 3 arrived today. Like the out of print R2 Clear Vision DVDs the 9 episodes are spread over three dual layer discs. They are flagged for R2 and R4. The only extra is the same 22 minute interview with Woodward which appears on the R2 Prism DVD of the Callan movie.

    The Clear Vision discs had the ad break titles edited out rather clumsily with digital zooms to hide the ad break cue-dots. The Umbrella discs have restored both the Thames TV logo at the start of episodes and the ad break titles.

    Apart from that picture quality is pretty much the same - the Umbrella may be very slightly better but it's pretty marginal. There is the same softness to the studio sections shot on video and the same patches of dropouts and damage - I suspect this may testify to the poor state of the master tapes.

    Bottom line - if you have the Clear Vision discs and the Prism edition of the movie there's not a great deal of incentive to upgrade unless you find the ad break edits particularly annoying. If you don't have the Clear Vision discs this is currently the only (legit) game in town. No plans have been announced for further R2 releases.

    What will be very interesting is to see whether Umbrella go on to issue Season 4. They have a fair track record in issuing Brit TV series - including other Thames TV series licenced from Freemantle Media - often before R2 versions have appeared.

    My understanding is that what's left of the two black and whiter seasons (12 out of 21 episodes - one in unedited form) and the Armchair Theatre play A Magnum for Schneider (which introduced the character) are owned by Studio Canal not Freemantle so the chances of them also appearing on DVD still seem a little remote at present.

  9. #9
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul A J Lewis's Avatar
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    Re: Callan (1967-1972)

    Quote Originally Posted by dave hartley
    My copy of the Australian Umbrella Entertainment box of Season 3 arrived today. Like the out of print R2 Clear Vision DVDs the 9 episodes are spread over three dual layer discs. They are flagged for R2 and R4. The only extra is the same 22 minute interview with Woodward which appears on the R2 Prism DVD of the Callan movie.

    The Clear Vision discs had the ad break titles edited out rather clumsily with digital zooms to hide the ad break cue-dots. The Umbrella discs have restored both the Thames TV logo at the start of episodes and the ad break titles. [....]

    My understanding is that what's left of the two black and whiter seasons (12 out of 21 episodes - one in unedited form) and the Armchair Theatre play A Magnum for Schneider (which introduced the character) are owned by Studio Canal not Freemantle so the chances of them also appearing on DVD still seem a little remote at present.
    As I understand it, at some points in the Clear Vision discs there are some further digital zooms that have been created to hide damage to the original tapes, which results in some awkward framing. From what I've read, these aren't present in the new Umbrella set.

    I'd love to get the Umbrella set, but it's quite expensive at the moment. I really hope they go on to release series four.

    My copies of the surviving episodes of series one and two, together with the entire series four and the one-off special 'Wet Job' arrived today. I'm really looking forward to digging in to them; it's such a shame that an important and groundbreaking series like CALLAN is left without the home video releases that it deserves, and it seems to be almost forgotten about.

  10. #10
    Registered User Ste McNay's Avatar
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    Re: Callan (1967-1972)

    Great clips, Paul. I've never seen any episodes, so I'll be checking out the ones that are available.

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    Re: Callan (1967-1972)

    Callan was a bit unlucky that all three of the ITV companies which produced it (ABC, Thames and ATV (Wet Job)) lost their franchises and as a result libraries became dispersed or destroyed and the rights are split between more than one company. (In addition to Freemantle Media and Studio Canal I think Granada own Wet Job).

    I suppose we should be thankful even more episodes weren't lost - while trying to find out about the adventure series Crane (none of the 37 episodes known to exist) I came across this rather sobering account of what happened to the Rediffusion library when they lost their franchise at the same time as ABC:
    link to missing episodes board

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    Re: Callan (1967-1972)

    Interesting news over on the Roobarb forum - Umbrella are apparently releasing Season 4 in Australia on August 6th.

  13. #13
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul A J Lewis's Avatar
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    Re: Callan (1967-1972)

    Quote Originally Posted by dave hartley
    Interesting news over on the Roobarb forum - Umbrella are apparently releasing Season 4 in Australia on August 6th.
    I'll look forward to it. Thanks for the info, Dave!

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    Re: Callan (1967-1972)

    We'll (BCI) be putting Callan out on DVD later this year (or early next).

    The 1st series of The Sweeney and The Bill street today - all part of our "International Voyage" brand.

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    Re: Callan (1967-1972)

    A news item at tvshowsondvd.com states that Fremantle and Acorn Media have struck a deal for Acorn to release R1 editions of shows from the Thames TV archive including Callan.

    This will almost certainly only be series 3 & 4 (as already released in R4).

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