Armchair Theatre – A Magnum for Schneider


Written by James Mitchell
Directed by Bill Bain

David Callan (Edward Woodward) used to work for a shadowy section of the British Government, but six months ago he walked away.  Now, his old boss Hunter (Ronald Radd) seems to want him back.

Callan’s currently working in a dead-end job, which he hates.  Hunter professes sympathy, but goes on to tell him that “you chaps don’t have much choice when you leave me.  I do my best of course, but your talents are so specialised.  After all, what can you do?  Use a gun, use your fists, open locks.  Legally, you’re unskilled”.

Does Callan actually want to return? If he does, then it’s plain that he’ll still have strong misgivings about the jobs he’ll be required to do.  This is the driving force behind not only this Armchair Theatre, but the subsequent series.  Callan has undoubted skills, but he also has a conscience and it’s this conflict which provides a great deal of the drama.

Hunter goes on to describe the reason for his department’s existence.  “What’s my section for?  Getting rid of people.  Bribery, frame-ups, deportation and death.  In the last seven years I’ve had ten people killed, you did two of them.  They all had to die Callan.  If they hadn’t they would have killed too many innocent people themselves.  And that’s what security’s for – protecting innocent people”.

There’s a clear distinction between Callan and Hunter’s current right-hand man Meres (Peter Bowles).  Meres, like Cross later on, is a company man – quite happy to obey Hunter’s orders without question.  If Callan doesn’t have all the facts then he’ll always question and then decide on his own course of action.  This makes him something of a loose cannon and a clear liability, but his undoubted skills have kept him alive so far.

Hunter wants Schneider (Joseph Furst) killed but he doesn’t explain why.  Callan has to do it quickly and without any official assistance – not even a gun.  Callan knows Schneider (he works in the office just down the corridor) and he seems a perfectly pleasant man, but for all that Callan dislikes and distrusts Hunter he knows that there has to be a reason why Schneider has been placed in a red file (Hunter’s system for people who demand “special” treatment).

After burgling Schneider’s flat, Callan finally understands why – Schneider is a gun-runner indirectly responsible for the deaths of a number of British soldiers.  Callan therefore accepts that he should die and asks his smelly friend Lonely (Russell Hunter) to get him a special gun – a Magnum, like the ones that Schneider imports.

The relationship between Callan and Lonely would be one of the joys of the series – although here it’s a very hard-edged one.  Callan makes the usual jibes about Lonely’s lack of personal hygiene, but there’s little of the good humour that the pair would share later.

One irony of the story is that Callan is initially reluctant to kill Schneider because he’s got to know and like him.  If Hunter had given him all the information to begin with, he probably would have carried out the mission much earlier.

Callan has told Hunter that he will kill Schneider by 11.00 pm. Hunter then arranges to have the police call shortly after that. Could Callan have shot Schneider in cold blood? The question didn’t arise, because Meres had broken into the flat (ready to kill Schneider, if Callan wasn’t able). When Schneider pulls a gun on Meres, Callan is able to do the deed.

Callan’s well aware that Hunter had double-crossed him.  If he’d killed Schneider by 11.00 pm, then he would have been caught red-handed.  So he exits the flat, leaving an unconscious Meres and the murder weapon behind.  After informing Hunter that he really doesn’t want to work for him, Hunter places Callan’s details into a red file.

Initially a one-off for Armchair Theatre, James Mitchell saw the obvious potential in taking the characters further and Callan would eventually run for four series during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  Even here, most of the parts are in place.  Edward Woodward was, of course, perfect as Callan – a man with scruples in a business where that’s a positive liability.  Ronald Radd was the first (and in many ways) the best Hunter – unscrupulous, amoral and totally untrustworthy – although there’s sometimes the odd spark of understanding between him and Callan.

As I’ve said, Lonely is not yet the confidant of Callan that he would become, but Russell Hunter does a great deal with a small role and it may be that the character was developed once Mitchell knew what Russell Hunter could deliver.  Meres would also be a regular in the series, but played by Anthony Valentine and not Peter Bowles.

Here, Callan and Meres barely exchange more than a few words – but their relationship would develop during the first two series.  Initially rivals, they would grow to understand and appreciate each other.  Whilst Peter Bowles is a fine actor, I think that having Anthony Valentine as a regular was something that really benefited the series.  His brand of suave brutality contrasts well with the more down-to-earth nature of Callan.

The plotting does seem a little odd at times. Hunter wants Schneider killed as a warning to others. That’s fine, but why does Hunter insist that Callan operate solely by himself? If Hunter’s plan is to warn off anybody who may be interested in taking Schneider’s place, then surely it has to be clear that this was a state-sponsored execution.

Also, why does Hunter make things more difficult by involving the police? Maybe it was simply to ensnare Callan – but I’m not sure why Hunter would have involved himself in such an elaborate plot to neutralise one of his old employees (Callan’s clearly not regarded as a danger at the start of the story – he’s not in a red file).

The way that Schneider suddenly becomes deeply suspicious of Callan during their second meeting (especially since their first was so affable) also seems a little strange. But these little quibbles notwithstanding, A Magnum For Schneider is still a very solid introduction to the world of David Callan.

It’s a shame that the archive retention of the first two series of Callan isn’t greater (two of the six stories from series one exist, nine of the fifteen from series two) but since other programmes fare even worse, we’ve a decent cross-section of stories from the B&W era, which I’ll be reviewing in the weeks to come.

Callan – The Good Ones Are All Dead


Written by James Mitchell
Directed by Toby Robertson

The Good Ones Are All Dead was the first episode of series one and whilst it follows on directly from A Magnum for Schneider it was obviously also designed to work as an introduction to Callan’s world.

Therefore the first few minutes cover the same ground as the opening of A Magnum for Schneider (and in some parts very similar dialogue) to explain the basics.  Callan used to work for Hunter, but not any more and although Hunter has one more job for Callan – he isn’t interested.  “You sacked me, remember. You said I was too soft. Well I’m still soft, Hunter. I still worry about the people I killed.  I’m done with you mate, I’m finished”.

Hunter is implacable – either Callan does this job or Hunter will destroy him and for once it’s not a wet job (secret service slang for murder).  Instead Callan has to monitor Reinhold Strauss (Powys Thomas).  According to Hunter, Strauss is a Nazi war criminal with three thousand deaths that can be laid at his door.  His current identity is that of a businessman named Nicolas Stavros.

The Israelis are coming to collect Strauss so they can put him on trial – Hunter wants to make sure this happens, a dead Strauss would be no use to anybody.  Callan isn’t convinced that Stavros is Strauss and mentions this to his Israeli contact Avram (Tom Kempinski).  “He doesn’t look like a killer to me. He’s podgy, he’s soft, he’s got a girl.  It’s twenty three years ago”.  Avram counters that “men change, their crimes do not”.

Callan does discover irrefutable proof that Stavros is Strauss – rather foolishly he kept a trunk of Nazi memorabilia – his dress uniform, party card, revolver and a bag containing thousands of gold fillings.  Why does he still have these artifacts?  Is it to gloat over his past crimes or as a reminder of the terrible deeds he committed?

When confronted by Callan, Strauss begs for mercy.  “For twenty-three years I have not harmed a living soul. Right now, Strauss is dead. I am Nicolas Stavros, Callan; and Stavros would not hurt an animal, let alone a human being”.  Strauss then asks Callan “What use is a monster in a cage?”.  Callan allows Stavros to commit suicide with a cyanide capsule, an act that will undoubtedly infuriate both the Israelis and Hunter.

Can a man like Stauss ever be redeemed?  That’s one of the key questions of the episode and Callan seems to ask the same question of himself.  He doesn’t necessarily want to be drawn back into Hunter’s world – although it’s a job that he does supremely well (but at what personal cost?).  There’s a very revealing scene where Lonely asks Callan what it feels like to use a gun.  “What’s it like? It’s like eating your lunch. If you’ve got the stomach for it, it’s easy. Trouble is, you get to like it”.

The relationship between Hunter and Callan is finely balanced, as Hunter confides to Meres, “Callan and I seem to have arrived at a very good working arrangement, what you might call a balance of terror”.

If Powys Thomas is a slight weak link as Strauss, then the regulars (Woodward, Radd, Valentine, Hunter) more than make up for him.  The clip below of the first five minutes is an electrifying tussle between Callan and Hunter that makes me wish that Ronald Radd had stayed with the series for longer.

Callan – You Should Have Got Here Sooner

you should

Written by James Mitchell
Directed by Piers Haggard

Lonely is attacked in his rooms by a mysterious stranger who we later learn is called Loder (Derek Newark).  Loder works for the Section and along with Meres they are minding a man called Pollock (Jon Laurimore).  Lonely broke into the safe house that was being used by Pollock and his description of him (or rather the smell of him) convinced Meres that he knew exactly who the burglar was.

Pollock’s a Russian spy who’s currently front page news – as someone’s just broken him out of prison.  He believes that Meres and Loder are Russians – which is exactly what Hunter wants him to believe.  Before Pollock was captured and sent to prison, Hunter is convinced that he stowed away a nerve gas formula – and Hunter wants that formula.

With Callan still not back in the Section, it’s fair to say that You Should Have Got Here Sooner does require a chain of coincidences in order to bring him into the narrative.  The first is that of all the houses in London to burgle, Lonely should choose one that’s being used by the Section to guard a Russian spy.  The second is that Pollock’s description of Lonely is enough to convince Meres that there’s only one man it can be (presumably Lonely is the only thief in London with a personal hygiene problem).

The initial attack on Lonely does highlight the growing relationship he has with Callan.  In A Magnum for Schneider Callan seems to have barely concealed contempt for him, but by this story there’s certainly more than a spark of affection.  When Lonely thanks him for looking out for him, Callan responds that someone has to.  Although later he does tell Lonely that if anybody’s going to beat him up then it’s going to be him (and it’s said in such a way that it’s impossible to tell if he’s joking or not).

Callan meets with Hunter and Hunter agrees to leave Lonely alone as Callan insists he’ll keep quiet.  However, Meres decides to make sure and attacks Lonely, much more thoroughly than Loder.  When Callan reaches Lonely’s rooms, he’s barely conscious and can only mumble “You should have got here sooner, Mr Callan”.

The following exchange between Callan and Hunter is an interesting one as it highlights the subtleties of the main character dynamics.  What’s the overriding reason for Callan’s anger?  Is it that Lonely was brutally attacked or is it that by attacking Lonely, Meres was making an indirect attack on Callan?

CALLAN: Somebody duffed Lonely and you promised me that wouldn’t happen.
CALLAN: Somebody called Meres.
HUNTER: You’ve no evidence Callan.
CALLAN: Who else could it have been? Anyway, since when have you needed evidence?
HUNTER: What do you want me to do?
CALLAN: Nothing I’m coming over.
HUNTER: That little man’s so important?
CALLAN: Yeah. Yeah he is to me. Besides, Meres knows I look after Lonely. So when he was beating him up, he wasn’t just attacking him – he was getting at me. Now he’s not going to get that kind of edge on me, Hunter. And neither are you.
HUNTER: What a relief, for a moment you sounded like a knight in armour, it’s only selfishness after all.

The dynamic between Callan, Lonely, Hunter and Meres is the driving force behind this episode, whilst the story of Pollock and the formula is very much secondary.  But although Jon Laurimore doesn’t have a great deal of screen time, he’s such a solid actor that he’s able to make something out of Pollock.  Russian spies (such as George Blake, who had escaped from Wormwood Scrubs in 1966) were familiar news stories at the time, so this story (like many episodes of Callan) was very topical.

Callan – Red Knight, White Knight

red knight

Written by James Mitchell
Directed by Peter Duguid

The Section has a new Hunter (Michael Goodliffe).  Meres is present to greet him, although he can’t help grumbling at the early time.  “Why the devil he wants to start at the crack of dawn, god only knows”.  First impressions are that this Hunter will be a stickler for the rules – he berates his secretary (Lisa Langton) for leaving secret files on his desk where anybody can read them and also insists that nobody is let into his office when he isn’t present.

Hunter and Meres review the Section’s personnel files – including Callan’s.  Meres thought that the new Hunter should take a look at him, although not for reasons of friendship, as Meres says, “I detest him. But he knows the job. The only thing is,sir, he likes to know why it has to be done”.

After reading Callan’s file, Hunter sums him up.  “He’s emotionally unstable, a one-time crook, he has a dubious circle of acquaintances and he tends to take the law into his own hands.  We don’t want heroes in the Section, this is a team”.

The new Hunter (Michael Goodliffe)
The new Hunter (Michael Goodliffe)

It doesn’t sound like the beginning of a beautiful friendship and the first meeting between the new Hunter and Callan is as awkward and spiky as you might expect.  It isn’t helped by the fact that Meres didn’t warn him that there had been a change at the top.  But even though Hunter has expressed his doubts over Callan’s character, he still wants him back – he tells him that he’ll be safer in the Section than he would be outside.  And when that doesn’t work, he says it would be quite easy to put him back in prison.

They appear to have reached an uneasy truce for now, although Callan’s interest is piqued when Hunter asks him if the name Bunin (Duncan Lamont) means anything to him.  It certainly does, Callan was sent to kill him in 1963.  Hunter tells him that Bunin wishes to defect – a statement that Callan finds impossible to believe.  When Hunter, Callan and Meres meet Bunin, he has an interesting proposal.  Miersky (a top-ranking Soviet agent) also wishes to defect – but he’ll only do so to the Section’s top man in Russia.

The first story of the second series, Callan was now a Thames production rather than an ABC one.  From the point of view of the quality of the existing prints this is good news (the two surviving ABC stories from series one were both in pretty poor shape, this episode looks much better).

Bunin (Duncan Lamont)
Bunin (Duncan Lamont)

Given how good Ronald Radd had been in the first series, I assume that it was his decision to leave.  In story terms though, it’s a positive plus as a new Hunter allows everything to be shaken up.  Callan may have disliked and distrusted the old Hunter, but at least he knew that he understood the job.  Early impressions are that the new man is more of a civil servant, with no practical knowledge.  “He’s never been out in the field, mate, that’s for sure. He doesn’t know how bloody cold it gets out there”.

When Bunin disappears (after killing a Section operative) Hunter now accepts that Callan’s original idea (Bunin had come to kill him) was probably correct.  And if Miersky had met the Section’s top man in Russia, that would have been two key British operatives neutralised by the Russians.

Hunter decides to act as a tethered goat in order to bring Bunin into the open.  This is something that Callan simply doesn’t understand and his professional sensibilities are also appalled by the risks that Hunter takes (for example, by attempting to open the curtains he provides a clear target for anybody outside).  Hunter is quite calm, though.  “I’m assured you’re the two best men I’ve got. I’ve every confidence. Bunin’s alone, gentlemen. Even if he gets one of you, one of you will get onto him before he can deal with me. I’m quite safe”.

The relationship between Callan and Meres is developing (although it may also have advanced in the four wiped episodes of series one).  Whist Meres still professes to detest him, he does appreciate just how good Callan is, and at the start of the story he’s lobbying hard for him to be reinstated.  They also share a nice moment when Bunin proposes a meeting between Miersky and the Section’s agent in Russia.  It’s just a quick glance – but it’s enough to signify that they both believe that Bunin’s playing them, whilst Hunter still remains convinced he’s telling the truth.

Whilst a good chunk of the story revolves around the relationship between Callan and the new Hunter, there’s also time for some decent two-handed scenes between Callan and Bunin.  They’re very much two of a kind – and Callan is quite clear from the start that he doesn’t believe a word of what Bunin says.  Duncan Lamont is very solid and is a formidable foe.  It’s a pity that he’s killed off at the end of the episode (shot by Callan, of course, as he attempted to assassinate Hunter) as it’s possible to imagine this storyline could have been developed over several episodes.

This is also the first surviving episode where we see Hunter’s secretary (Lisa Langton).  She was a voice on the phone in the two existing series one episodes, and as the series progresses she’ll have her moment in the spotlight (especially the series three episode A Village Called G).

Although Callan has saved Hunter’s life, it’s quite clear that he still doesn’t understand or trust him.  But it seems he’ll have to, as Callan’s now firmly back in the Section.

Callan – The Most Promising Girl of Her Year


Written by James Mitchell
Directed by Peter Duguid

Joan Mather (Elizabeth Bell) is a research scientist working at the Biological Research Centre.  Although her project is close to a breakthrough, she tells her superior, Dr Bradford (Raymond Young), that she wishes to leave because she has concerns that their work could developed into a deadly weapon.

But as Joan is blessed with a photographic memory she’s a grave security risk.  And when it’s discovered that her boyfriend Carl Donner (David Hargreaves) is an East German agent, the situation becomes critical.  Callan is designated to watch her – much to his dismay as “birds with brains” are not a combination that appeals to him.

The Most Promising Girl of Her Year is a strong episode with a down-beat ending.  Joan is a naive figure who believes implicitly that Carl Donner is the same sort of person that she is – someone who doesn’t care about politics and is only interested in their relationship.  When the Section pick up Horst (one of Donner’s colleagues) they are able to demonstrate to Joan exactly what Donner’s true feelings for her are.  Horst is pumped full of drugs by Snell (Clifford Rose) and repeats in her presence the joke he had shared before.  “You said to me how did Donner feel about the girl?  And I say how does a carpenter feel about wood?”

Even after this, Joan isn’t convinced and Callan has to keep plugging away – providing an example of a previous girl that Donner had deceived, for example.  “He squeezed her dry and then he left her. She killed herself. I wouldn’t want you to kill yourself, Joan”.  When he tells her that Donner is a highly trained agent who is well versed in killing, Joan still can’t believe him.

JOAN: Carl told me he hated killing
CALLAN: I hate killing, I sometimes do it
JOAN: You don’t hate it, you love it
CALLAN: Look, I don’t have to justify myself to you, darling
JOAN: It doesn’t make any difference what you say, I love him and I trust him.

Although this is a pretty bleak episode, there are a few moments of light relief.  For example, Callan asks Lonely to keep an eye on Joan (and also burgle her flat).  This he does, although he seems more interested in the lingerie of Joan’s flatmate.  “Cor, you wanna seem some of the stuff that Sonia’s got. Well you can hardly see some it it, nearly all transparent it is, with bows on”.  To which Callan asks him whether he’s been eating raw meat again.

We get a first look at Snell in this episode.  He would become a semi-regular character, always on hand when Hunter needed answers from people – although the cost would be high for his unfortunate victims.  Clifford Rose was always chilling as Snell – a man who clearly enjoyed his work and seemed to approach it from the angle of scientific research.  The fact that many of his subjects became vegetables seemed not to be something that overly concerned him.  This is highlighted when Joan tells Snell that the drugs given to Horst will destroy his mind.  Snell agrees but then tells her that it was a rush job, arranged primarily for her benefit.

It’s a slightly messy ending (both story-wise and also the direction, which does seem slightly miscued when the big moment comes).  With only a few minutes screen-time at the end, David Hargreaves still manages to make an impression as Donner.  He’s able to demonstrate to Callan (and the audience) exactly how little he cared for the unfortunate Joan.

Callan – The Little Bits and Pieces of Love

little bits

Written by James Mitchell
Directed by Peter Sasdy

Hunter is interested in a Polish physicist named Andrei Brezhevski (Andy Devine).  The Russians have developed a hundred megaton bomb, which according to Hunter would destroy every living thing in the UK.  But although they have the rocket they don’t have the fuel – by the end of the year though, thanks to Brezhevski, they will have.

Hunter wants Brezhevski lifted, so that he can give the fuel formula to the West (thus negating the Russian advantage). And even though he’s closely guarded, Hunter has a lever that will force him into the open – his wife.

During WW2, Brezhevski’s wife Sofia (Pauline Jameson) was interned at Dachau. After the war was over, she was in a highly disturbed state and was slowly nursed back to health by Dr Charles Rule (Laurence Hardy). Believing her husband to have died during the war, Sofia married Rule and they’ve lived together contentedly ever since. Callan forces Sofia to write a letter to Brezhevski which will compel him to make the trip to England.

We’ve already seen how the act of killing has scarred Callan, but in this story the tragedy isn’t just a death – it’s the possibility of what will happen to Sofia after Brezhevski has come to England.  The following exchange between Callan and Hunter makes the situation quite clear.

CALLAN: I should think when all this is all over she’ll finish up in a mental home
HUNTER: That bothers you?
CALLAN: That really bothers me
HUNTER: Try thinking about that hundred megaton bomb. That should bother you even more

Hunter views Sofia as little more than a pawn to be sacrificed – he’s thinking about what would happen if the Russians detonated their bomb.  Callan understands this, but he clearly loathes the job he has to do.  Later on, when the two of them are waiting at the airstrip for Brezhevski’s arrival, he does unbend a little.

CALLAN: Did you know what Brezhevski’s doing?
SOFIA: I knew only that he was famous
CALLAN: Well he’s developing a fuel for a rocket that carries a nuclear warhead
SOFIA: And you want it?
CALLAN: Yeah, we want it
SOFIA: So that you can drop nuclear warheads on them? Your argument does not interest me, I’ve seen too many people die. One day I think it will not interest you either

In many ways, Brezhevski and the rocket fuel are only MacGuffins as the story is more about the question of whether it’s right to sacrifice the innocent (in this case Sofia) for the greater good.  Hunter unshakably thinks so and Callan seems to as well – but he doesn’t have to like it.  At the end, Sofia is still alive (although Brezhevski is less fortunate) but the memories of the last few days will remain with her forever and it’s left to the viewer to decide for themselves whether the cost was worth it.

Apart from the odd loophole (if Brezhevski’s been desperate to locate his wife for the last twenty years, can we really believe that the Russians haven’t been able to find her?) this is another tight, well written script by James Mitchell.  Vladek Sheybal gives his usual, idiosyncratic performance as Dicer, a Polish refugee with a burning hatred of the Eastern Bloc.  David Garfield is a little hammy as a Russian agent, but he’s really the only weak link in the story.

Pauline Jameson is outstanding as a woman forced to confront the ghosts of her past and it’s her performance (along with the usual high-quality acting from the regulars) that makes this episode such a memorable one.

Callan – Let’s Kill Everybody

let's kill

Written by Ray Jenkins
Directed by Robert Tronson

The Section is under attack from an unknown enemy.  The only lead they had was a man called Bremer (Peter Welch) who committed suicide whilst being interrogated by Meres and another agent called Gould (Henry Knowles).  But before Bremner died he did divulge one important piece of information – a foreign agent tasked with liquidating all the members of the Section is somewhere in London.

Let’s Kill Everybody was the first of five scripts written by Ray Jenkins.  He would also contribute Death of a Friend later on during the second series as well as two excellent stories for the fourth series (Rules of the Game and If He Can, So Could I).  His other script was Amos Green Must Live for series three, which proves that even good writers can have their off days – but we’ll leave the problems with that one for another time.

This episode was the final story to feature Michael Goodliffe as Hunter.  As he only appeared in five stories (You’re Under Starter’s Orders was sadly wiped) he maybe didn’t have quite enough time to establish a distinctive performance (although he was always very solid). Red Knight, White Knight implied that he was more of an administrator, with little practical knowledge of how the Section worked, but this was rarely touched upon subsequently – in later episodes he proved to be just as ruthless as Ronald Radd’s Hunter.

The next Hunter would be very different. so it’s tempting to think that Goodliffe’s more autocratic Hunter (similar to Radd’s performance) was needed as a stop-gap during the early part of series two, whilst Callan was re-integrated into the Section.  This then gives Derek Bond’s approachable Hunter even more of an impact.

At the start of Let’s Kill Everybody, Callan is a happy man.  He’s just started a relationship with the gorgeous Jenny Lauther (Hilary Dwyer).  Jenny was a nurse at the clinic where Callan had recently been sent for treatment (to have a cyst removed).  Callan’s on sick-leave and is planning to spend it in Jenny’s company when Hunter calls him into the office.  Hunter quotes “Emergency D” which brings an instant response from Callan.

Hunter asks Callan if he’s made any new contacts with the last few weeks – Jenny is the main one.  Could she be the assassin?  On the face of it, it seems ludicrous, but Callan has to be sure.  He does it in the only way he knows how – by asking her point blank and searching her bag.  This upsets Jenny as she sees the affable man she loves transformed into a cold, relentless interrogator.  It’s another indication that normal human relationships are always going to be something that Callan will struggle to maintain.

She appears to be completely innocent – as the assassin turns out to be German academic Dr Paula Goodman (Heather Canning).  Dr Goodman is Jenny’s tutor (she resigned from the clinic to re-enter higher education).  One of the flaws of the story is that although we see Hunter with a file on Goodman early on, he doesn’t make any attempt to have her picked up until much later.  And was it just a coincidence that Jenny was placed with her or did Jenny’s relationship with Callan have something to do with it?

Poor Jenny seems to be another innocent caught in the crossfire, as Goodman drugs her so that she later drowns whilst canoeing.  Edward Woodward’s barely controlled fury when he realises that Goodman killed Jenny is a highlight of the story, as is the scene where Goodman sows seeds of doubt about Jenny’s loyalties in Callan’s mind.

Jenny was a toy. A doll. A doll with an ear for private phone calls. No intelligence, no brain, nothing to match that obscene English exterior. Just a reporting doll. Wound up and taught to walk back to … who? That worries you, doesn’t it? Which side was she on? Was she one of us, but expendable or was she … ?

It’s easy to form the impression that the Section is a little short on good men apart from Callan and Meres.  It isn’t the first time we’ve seen other operatives rather easily dealt with – and their security procedures (one man covers another) does seem to be woefully inadequate to deal with the current crisis.  It’s also a little strange that the job of killing all the members of the Section is given to just one person (although late in the story it is revealed that Goodman does have backup).

These quibbles apart, it’s a tense story with Hilary Dywer making a good impression with her limited screen time.