Callan: Under The Red File by Andrew Pixley. Network book review

callan

Callan: Under The Red File by Andrew Pixley is an exhaustive guide to the production of this classic television series and is now available for purchase via Network’s website.

For anybody who has an interest in British archive television, Pixley’s name should be well known.  He’s produced viewing notes for many Network titles over the years (most recently The Professionals) as well as for various BBC titles (such as their short-lived science-fiction releases).  He also penned the Archive feature in Doctor Who Magazine for many years.

The bulk of the research in the book was carried out some years ago and the intention was that the book would form part of a Callan boxset, together with all the existing episodes and some additional special features.  For one reason or another, the boxset has yet to appear – so now we have the opportunity to buy the book by itself.

If you’re familiar with Pixley’s work then you’ll know what to expect.  This is a highly factual, production-based work.  If you’re looking for a glossy, well-illustrated tome then this may not be for you.  But if you want facts, you’ve certainly got them here.

Callan is one of those programmes that has never really been examined in great detail before.  I can’t recall any previous books published on the show (although there is another, from Miwk, due out later in the year).  This means that there’s a wealth of material that was new to me – especially about the early (sadly incomplete) black and white episodes.

If you love Callan, this is an essential purchase.  It can be ordered direct from Network’s website here.  Network’s blurb on the book is below.

Nearly ten years in the writing, Callan: Under the Red File has been a labour of love for both Network and the book’s author, Andrew Pixley. Anyone familiar with Network’s releases will know our history with Andrew is a long one and he has done some excellent work for us over the years – with his books on The Prisoner, Danger Man, Public Eye and The Professionals all raising the bar for this type of archive research. Ahead of our upcoming Callan documentary, you can now buy Andrew’s new book exclusively from networkonair.com.

Initially a cult success before becoming one of British television’s most watched programmes, Callan brought the gritty, downbeat angle of Cold War espionage to 1960s British television. In stark contrast to the glamour of James Bond and the stylized capers of The Avengers, the man known as David Callan was a highly skilled killer, tasked by the Government to eliminate threats to national security. This reluctant, conscience-wracked assassin was brought to life in a remarkable performance by Edward Woodward, cementing his popularity as an actor many years before he achieved major international success in both Breaker Morant and The Equalizer.

This exhaustive book is the definitive look at the creation, production, broadcast and reception of all four series. From its conception as a one-off BBC play, through its development by ABC Television, its success as one of Thames Television’s highest-rated programmes, its subsequent ATV revival and its expansion into novels, short stories and movies – this single volume covers every aspect of James Mitchell’s most successful creation.

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