Callan – But He’s A Lord, Mr Callan

but he's a lord, mr callan titles

Written by: James Mitchell

Directed by: Guy Verney

Caroline Fielding (Ann Bell) is the wife of a diplomat with good connections to the US President. She’s being blackmailed by Lord Lindale (Donald Hewlett), a gambler who is threatening to sell compromising photos of her husband to the Russians. Former Section operative Miller (Gerald Flood) has just spent five years in prison after he got caught on a job with Callan. He asks Callan for help to con the perfect mark – Lord Lindale. Callan begins to suspect that the Section is involved somewhere, but after winning money off Lindale and Caroline, he and Miller accept an invitation to Lindale’s country house for a weekend of cards and shooting. When Callan beats Lindale again, the Lord makes it clear he has no intention of paying up.

They knew all about his – er – hobbies

Caroline’s husband isn’t part of the Foreign Office because he’s “Too big a risk” and “They knew all about his – er – hobbies.” There are photos. Maybe John Fielding could have been into BDSM or cocaine or a number of other things that might have been ignored as long as they were conducted discreetly. But it’s actually given away immediately when Hunter points him out in a photo and describes him as “the pretty one” – not a masculine word like “handsome”. Various other references make it clear that John was captured in compromising positions with other men.

Especially in later decades, it’s more common to have homophobic remarks – not necessarily directed towards specific gay men, but often by men defending their heterosexuality, or by others attempting to de-masculinise someone.

I used to watch older television and get a tad frustrated – they’ve as good as said it, so why can’t they just actually say the word ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’! Now I tend to find myself intrigued in the myriad ways it’s talked about without being talked about. And because it isn’t properly talked about, this is one occasion where John Fielding’s “hobbies” receive limited criticism. They’re blackmail material, but it’s the blackmailer who’s in the wrong and the subject of scorn. In addition, homosexual/bisexual John himself is completely absent onscreen, with Caroline perhaps seen as a more sympathetic character for the audience.

And you look after Lindale?

Anne stands in the foreground clutching her handbag with Meres over her shoulder in the background

Caroline is fairly defensive, clearly desperate to hide what’s really going on with her and Lindale. Meres makes contact with her at a club, Barlows, where she’s been with Lindale as he gambles her money away.

Meres needs her to confirm that it’s Lindale blackmailing her. When she comes to see him, he tells her, “I watched you last night when he touched you.” The earlier scene does say ‘Lindale’s hand comes in’ and as Caroline is in medium close-up at the time, he may have patted her arm (a thigh seems possible but a bit risqué, especially when her husband has just been mentioned) while the same shot could also show her reaction. Revolted? Scared? We can ponder numerous ways Ann Bell could have played it. Despite such evidence, she initially still tries to deny it to Meres.

Later, she visits Callan to deliver his winnings from the previous night’s game at Lindale’s London house, explaining, “I look after Lord Lindale’s finances for him.” We’ll learn that he’s been bleeding her dry. After hearing that Caroline is married but her husband is in the US, Callan tries to pry a tad more.

Callan: and you look after Lindale? Caroline: you're very rude. Callan: I've got a hangover. A lady gave me special whisky when I was gambling - then asked me for one more game.

It’s a perfectly ordinary statement from Callan, but he’s repeating something already clarified, and her response tells us that the line must have been delivered with an insinuatory tone. How subtle is it? He’s hungover so maybe not too subtle!

Ann Bell

Ann Bell played the lead role in a BBC production of Jane Eyre in 1963, and had numerous guest roles on television throughout the 1960s, working there fairly steadily from the middle of the decade across a mix of plays and series. In the year before her appearance in But He’s a Lord, Mr Callan, she’d had roles in Mr Rose (The Good Loser), The Troubleshooters (A Damn Great Lump of Oil), The Baron (A Memory of Evil), The Saint (The Art Collectors) and Mystery and Imagination (The Flying Dragon), with all but the latter broadcast earlier in 1967. She’d also appeared in several films, with To Sir, with Love released a few months after her episode of Callan was broadcast (where at 29 years old she played the mother of 19-year-old Judy Geeson). However, it wouldn’t be until the 1980s that Ann Bell gained a regular television role as part of the cast of Tenko (1981-1984).

I didn’t know they catered for coach parties

Hunter joins Meres to observe Lindale at the gambling club, Barlows. His first comment upon spotting Callan from a distance is, “Thank god he’s changed his tailor.” Meres is more direct, waiting for Callan to greet them before saying, “I didn’t know they catered for coach parties.”  In turn, Callan leans in to his working class credentials, refusing Hunter’s encouragement to clear off: “No hurry squire. They got a nice class of bird here. Very nice.” He isn’t normally quite so vocal in any lust or lechery.

Meres and Callan have had limited interactions in the series so far. We’ll start to see them sharing more scenes next series, helped by Callan’s reinstatement in the Section. The scripts will continue making something of their class differences, and I like that both men seem to almost enjoy this kind of mild banter in place of expressing their serious dislike for one another. It’s something I rather miss in the Callan novels where its absence makes Toby seem a bit more of a nasty bastard. Onscreen it makes him more human, more like Callan, and showing Callan as so similar to a man like Toby can be thought provoking.

A Spy Let Out Into the Cold

It’s marvellous to be introduced to Miller as we never meet any other ex-Section agents in the existing episodes. He might not be the story’s main villain, but I think he’s the most intriguing character. He initially comes across as somewhat likeable on the page. Although he later reveals just how bitter he is towards Callan, there’s a potential camaraderie: they’re former colleagues with similar experiences and both have been screwed over by the Section.

There is certainly mutual respect between them. But from the off Callan doesn’t entirely trust Miller. When Callan first lets him into his flat, Miller cries out and the script instructs the camera to ‘LOOSEN hold on Callan as they break’’ so it seems as though Callan does some sort of pat down, perhaps even thrusting his hand into Miller’s jacket to check for a gun. This seems eminently sensible when Callan relays, “You said you were going to kill me when you came out.”

Miller: what the hell Callan: you said you were going to kill me when you came out LOOSEN hold on Callan as they break Miller: I said a lot of things. I didn't mean them. Callan: I like to be sure. How long did you serve?

Callan’s suspicions are raised because Miller knew where to find him, claiming to have followed Lonely to his flat. Initially it seemed a tad off to me that Callan doesn’t believe an ex-Section operative like Miller could follow Lonely, especially when Miller adds that it was Callan who taught him. However, this also implies that Lonely is even better than Callan at avoiding tails – and maybe he is. It would be a good part of the explanation for why Callan trusts Lonely enough to involve him in so much Section business.

There are other early hints about Miller’s true nature. Who put him on to Lindale? Who gave him a place in Mayfair, straight out the nick and broke?

You put your arm on me again and I’ll break it

Miller comes to see Callan again after their first evening out together with Lindale. We go back and forth between medium close ups of each man, with Callan unsure about the risk of cheating Lindale a second time.

After he tells Miller, “You better leave me out” there is a ‘VERY TIGHT’ two-shot as Miller protests, “But you can’t pull out now. You can’t.” We then cut to a close up of Callan telling Miller, “You put your arm on me again and I’ll break it.” Miller could have been aggressive but combined with his pleading dialogue I read it as desperate, with him getting ever closer, tightly grabbing Callan’s arm as he pleads. He quickly apologises.

It’s perhaps the first hint of the pressure he’s under, as it’s later confirmed he’s working with Hunter.

Gerald Flood

Gerald Flood would have been a familiar face to audiences in 1967 as he had a string of regular television roles throughout the 1960s. A few weeks after his appearance in Callan a Miss L Hurst wrote to TV World to say that when Miller appeared ‘From behind the small opening in the door of Callan’s flat’ she and her sisters ‘all chorused: “It’s Gerald Flood!”‘

Starting in 1960 he appeared as journalist Conway Henderson in the various Pathfinders… series written by Malcolm Hulke and Eric Paice (Pathfinders in Space (1960) Pathfinders to Mars (1960-61) and Pathfinders to Venus (1961)). More science-fiction – and another journalist – followed for City Beneath the Sea (1962) and Secret Beneath the Sea (1963), created by John Lucarotti. Like Callan, both of these were produced by ABC Television. Guy Verney directed the last episodes of Pathfinders to Venus and produced both the …Beneath the Sea series, so it’s unsurprising that he cast Flood in later work, including his only episode of Callan.

Flood was in Crane (1963-1965), playing a Moroccan police chief to Patrick Allen’s eponymous smuggler. Only a couple of episodes still exist and happily one made it onto Network’s ITV 60 box set (currently available at reasonable prices secondhand), which has ensured it a place on my Missing Shows Wish List.

After this, Flood appeared in The Rat Catchers (1966-67), which also fares badly in the missing episodes stakes – only 2 out of 26 exist in full and none have had a release. This is a great shame as it shares a few similarities with Callan. Richard Hurst (Glyn Owen) is a police detective reluctantly transferred from Scotland Yard to a small, secret government department, with no official name. Sounding familiar yet…? It’s another on my Missing Shows Wish List.

The department is headed by Brigadier Davidson (Philip Stone), a ruthless man who expects blind obedience. Hurst has more humble origins than his colleagues and dislikes following orders without knowing the reasons for them. This sort of class conflict with superiors had already been explored in Len Deighton’s The IPCRESS File (1962) (with Deighton’s nameless protagonist christened Harry Palmer for the 1965 film starring Michael Caine). But in other ways the series appears to be aiming for James Bond territory: Gerald Flood portrays Peregrine Smith, an Eton-educated playboy who drives an AC COBRA 289 sports car that’s clearly designed to appeal to fans of the Jaguar E-Type.

Gerald Floor and Glyn Owen in the front of a car with a young woman sat between them

Flood’s rather languid as Smith, observing the tense conversations between Hurst and the Brigadier with a detached, wry amusement. Although he isn’t one, he conducts himself like a man of leisure: the world is his and he takes a relaxed pace. It’s clear Flood could speak and hold himself well enough for Miller to easily fit in at a gambling club with a lord, and pass as a commissioned army officer. Maintaining the same calm, relaxed composure as he does as Peregrine Smith would provide him with an excellent poker face during the card games and indeed the whole deception of Lindale. It would also make his desperate outburst when he grabs Callan a great, sudden contrast – and perhaps Miller realises this based on Callan’s reaction as he swiftly regains his composure.

I wish more episodes of The Rat Catchers existed as I’m curious about the similarities and differences between the Rediffusion series and Callan. The Rat Catchers clearly hadn’t impressed everyone. A couple of weeks after A Magnum for Schneider had aired, one viewer wrote to TV Times to ask if it could be made into a series, “to replace that crowd of bungling irresponsible idiots who call themselves The Rat Catchers” (Callan‘s series had actually been commissioned already, nearly three months earlier, prior to A Magnum for Schneider‘s broadcast).

Captain Miller

We don’t get too much background to Miller and it might have been interesting to learn more. He introduces himself to Lord Lindale as an army captain, saying he’s been in Hong Kong for the last few years. He feigns ignorance when Callan first arrives at Barlows and introduces himself again as Captain Miller. Callan then calls him “captain” in front of Lindale and Caroline, but also refers to him as “Captain Miller” to Lonely. We know the ‘living abroad’ part is to cover up Miller’s prison time, but is he really an ex-captain, or has he completely made this up for the sake of appearances too?

Meres and Callan are both ex-army, as is Colonel Hunter, so it is reasonable to assume that the Section could also have recruited Miller from the services. Callan didn’t actually serve with Miller (as far as we know), and ranks aren’t used in the Section – even Colonel Hunter is often simply Hunter or Charlie – so Callan’s use of it is likely less of an old habit and simply something to add to their con’s credibility.

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Miller’s military background is also reinforced a little when he first proposes the con to Callan, who questions his motivations: “No patriotism? No love of country?” It implies these were the things that used to drive Miller. These obviously aren’t true of all those who have served – Callan certainly isn’t overtly driven by patriotism – but it certainly makes the connection more likely.

To hell with them, this is for ourselves, Callan

Miller denies these qualities in But He’s a Lord, Mr Callan, and there’s no apparent evidence of them. Although he tells Callan he’s in it for the money – and that would be a reasonable partial motivation – after their first night’s gambling Callan picks up that Miller didn’t even ask about his share of the winnings. By the end we’ll discover he wanted to gain revenge on Callan. This seems a blinding drive for him.

It’s slightly odd that Miller doesn’t express any antipathy towards the Section. He seems to blame his years in prison entirely on Callan. We get enough details to surmise what happened (a cards con gone wrong), and it’s apparent that it was the Section’s instructions that ensured no one intervened to prevent Miller going to prison.

But is this Miller’s last chink of patriotism shining through? Does Miller believe that much in what the Section does for the greater good that it can’t be to blame? He even corrects Callan’s statement that he had left the Section: “Not left. You left. I was thrown out,” perhaps implying he would go back if he could. And he kind of does, only for them to let him down again.

Alternatively, perhaps Miller is driven to revenge because he is as cynically realistic as Callan. Maybe he believes Callan should have ignored orders and stepped in to save him because they both knew the Section wouldn’t help later.

What’s the Section for?

When Callan formally returns to the Section, it’s frequently made clear that agents are on their own on a job. Officially, the Section does not exist and therefore the work its agents carry out cannot be officially sanctioned, so they won’t formally intervene if they get caught. Callan sometimes specifically references the risk of prison in protest at his reluctance to carry out certain tasks, and we even heard him thinking about it in a voiceover last episode. The fact he has already been inside adds a little to that – he knows exactly what he would be going back to.

But if we ever doubted how ruthless the Section could be when it comes to looking after their own, Miller is a living, breathing example of how unsupportive the Section are when something goes wrong. Interestingly, this element in particular would have been familiar to Gerald Flood as The Rat Catchers exists in a similarly brutal, uncaring world. There, the Brigadier lays it down plainly: “When we slip up, nobody steps forward to own us. We are utterly unlisted. Nobody extends a helping hand when we go down, and we drag nobody down with us.”

The Section continues to be typically cruel in this story. Hunter lays out his expectations of events in Northumberland to Meres. He knows Lindale is bound to attack Callan when he finds out he’s been cheating and Callan will kill him: “He may get away with self-defence if it’s done properly.” Hunter sounds so casual, both about using Callan and in regards to whether or not he gets away with it. Callan speaks to Hunter on the phone before he goes to Northumberland, and is told, “Ignorance is a virtue, Callan. Cultivate it.” Once he’s hung up, in voice-over Callan says, “Oh, sure. Once I’m ignorant I’m dead,” which seems like an ideal summation of his relationship with Hunter and the Section.

Cor! You don’t half have some lovely gear

When Callan hands over Miller’s portion of the winnings, Miller says that there should be more. Callan tells him, “Fifty quid expenses. I’ve got to look smart when I stay with a lord, haven’t I?” Later, Lonely comes to collect Callan’s things to drive up to Northumberland and clocks the suit, commenting, “Cor! You don’t half have some lovely gear, Mr Callan.” He’s evidently gone to feel the cloth as Callan tells him, “Take your dirty hands off it.” I’ve taken a detour to explore:

Where did Callan buy his suit?

What we’re missing

A story based around card games does means that we now get less from the gambling scenes; we are clearly supposed to be able to see which cards certain people are playing. One game ends with the camera panning down to the cards as Callan says, “I’ve only got three queens I’m afraid.” It then cuts to a reaction shot of Lindale and Miller, yet this means little when we have no idea what cards anyone else has! By the end of the evening, we’ll know that Callan has come out on top, but we’re missing the atmosphere that the various hands should offer.

There are a few photos from But He’s a Lord, Mr Callan. Two of them are from the scenes at Lindale’s London house, with the script designating it as his Card Room. Marvellously, they enable us to see two completely different angles of the set, but it’s easy to match them together as Caroline is wearing the same dress in both the colour and monochrome photos. For further reassurance, the script describes the room as containing two portraits and we can see one behind Callan, plus – in both photos – a partial one behind Lindale.

Edward Woodward’s hands are holding up his cards, so we can’t clearly see if, like Lindale and Miller, he’s worn a full dinner suit that evening. It would be appropriate for the visit to Barlows, where Hunter had commented on Callan’s outfit. When discussing gambling clubs with Lonely, Callan asked about “ones where you have to wear evening dress” and Lonely said Barlows is the poshest. Callan certainly looks like he’s wearing a white shirt so I’m inclined to think he might have done.

Gerald Flood’s card tricks

To promote But He’s a Lord, Mr Callan, Gerald Flood was interviewed by TV World, the Midlands TV listings magazine, which is the source for the story’s monochrome photos. He reveals that he had to “quietly transfer a pack of cards from my hands to the top of my socks”, something that isn’t specifically mentioned in the camera script. However, during the card scenes at both Lindale’s London home and Bootwood Hall in Northumberland there are moments where this bit of business could have occurred.

The first time, it’s Callan’s deal but he asks Miller to deal for him. As Miller does so, Callan seems to be pouring himself more whisky – part of their ploy to make him look sozzled. This could have been the distraction as Miller swaps packs. Yet I don’t think this scene actually shows us what Miller is doing as the shots aren’t right. This is only Part One of the episode and there would certainly have been some added intrigue if the audience were left guessing how Callan and Miller are doing it.

On the other hand, at Bootwood Hall Lindale calls for a new deck and it’s Miller’s deal. Incidental music starts up, adding a little tension to proceedings. Callan says, “Allow me” so he’s probably helping Miller get a pack somehow, either passing one or picking up a dropped one; a cameras is instructed to ‘PAN DOWN to see pack changed’, followed by another camera using a high angle shot to see the pack placed on the table. This seems a more likely moment for Gerald Flood to have to put his new trick to use.

Negative image

As we’re firmly in a digital age, I realise there may be some readers who are unfamiliar with film photography and the concept of ‘negatives’. They used to a fairly common device in blackmail plots like this, which digital photography has done away with, so I’ll provide a simple guide.

Photographic film comes as a roll in a small canister and you insert this into the camera. Each time you take a photograph, the camera’s shutter briefly opens and exposes a section of the film to light (the sound of the shutter opening and closing remains a common sound effect on phone cameras). This creates the image on the film. Each film roll usually allows you to take 24 or 36 photographs.

To be able to see the photos, you first need to develop the film. As film is highly sensitive to light, it’s treated with chemicals in a darkroom. Once this is done, the image has been permanently printed onto the film.

The developed film is called a negative as the colours are all inverted i.e. light areas look dark and dark areas look light. Now you can create a positive photo print by shining light through the negatives onto photosensitive paper.

In our blackmail scenario, what matters is that you can make multiple prints of a photo from a single negative. The negatives are the master copies. You could destroy all the printed photos, but having the negatives is the only way to be sure no more prints can be made, so that’s why you want to get hold of them – or if you’re the blackmailer, keep hold of them.

A Lord always pays his debts

The climax of But He’s a Lord, Mr Callan is reached in the aftermath of the card game at Bootwood Hall in Northumberland. Callan has beaten Lindale a second time and he now owes over £18,000 (in the region of £1 million in 2024). But he hasn’t got it, and neither has Caroline. She’s already asked Callan to help her get the negatives back. Callan now mentions the existence of the photos to Lindale.

end of part two break bumper with broken lightbulb

We’re left on tenterhooks during a commercial break and return to a piece of film showing grouse shooting (the episode has no location filming and this is one of 2 film inserts), followed by a camera shot of a shotgun in the foreground, with Callan appearing in the background. As the camera pulls back, it pans around to show Callan and Hunter in the gun room the next morning, where the latter is preparing to join the shooting party. Having spent the commercial break wondering how Lindale will react, the shot of the gun nicely gives the audience a brief false threat.

Callan must look rough as Hunter remarks on it. He explains that he hasn’t been to bed yet so the card game can’t have long finished. The two of them only have a brief conversation before Lindale enters.

A query from Hunter establishes that no shot (as in ammunition) is kept in the gun room. It’s a casual and friendly exchange, but the camera pulls back to show the three of them more fully and then, timed perfectly, Lindale tells Hunter he isn’t heading out just yet. “I have to settle up with Callan first” he says – ‘PAN DOWN to see gun in his hand’. From later dialogue we’ll learn it’s a Luger pistol (favoured weapon of German baddies, but Lindale probably picked his up during the war), so, unlike a shotgun, it could have been concealed in a pocket. It feels like this could have been a scene that wonderfully and gradually unfolds the tension.

As Hunter heads out, Callan is in a couple of camera shots. Is he reacting? Is the adrenaline starting to flow? Is he trying to anticipate what’s coming? He moves around in one shot – is he trying to position himself nearer the door? It’s getting so exciting!

When Lindale turns back to Callan, we cut to a low angle of Callan; that’s unusual – there haven’t been many low close ups in this episode, but with the camera positioned well this could almost represent the shotgun’s point of view. We don’t even need a reference to the gun at this point in the camera script: Callan’s reaction, “You must be joking” and Lindale’s response, “Try me” are enough on their own.

Donald Hewlett

After numerous years in repertory theatre, Donald Hewlett began building a career in television from the late 1950s. He spent several months of 1962 in the soap opera Compact, where he seems to have been trying to woo the magazine office staff, and had plenty of varied guest roles. These included The Protectors (The Bottle Shop in 1964), three episodes of Coronation Street (1965), two episodes of Sergeant Cork (The Case of the Vengeful Garnet in 1964 and The Case of the Fellowship Murder in 1966), and Redcap (The Proper Charlie in 1966), with Guy Verney directing him in the last of these. He would become better known in the following two decades for his regular roles in It Ain’t Half Hot Mum (1974-81) and You Rang, M’Lord? (1988-93).

Before playing Lord Lindale, most of Hewlett’s recent television roles had been small supporting parts, so he must have relished the opportunity to stretch his acting muscles here. The episode’s climax in particular is a great chance to switch things up. After being the polite, stiff-upper-lipped lord all episode, he gets to fully demonstrate Lindale’s true nature.

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It does bother me that Lindale only discovers Callan has been cheating due to a random call from Meres. Lindale doesn’t know Meres, so why doesn’t Callan just deny it? Why doesn’t he say Meres is a bitter loser with a grudge? You could argue that Callan is caught off guard in the moment, but he’s also used to thinking on his feet and knows the Section is involved somewhere here.

Lindale plans to get out of there with the negatives, but at the end of the card game we saw him pass Callan an IOU and he wants his IOUs returned as “a matter of honour”, which is quite a strange moral compass for a blackmailer. Callan manages to buy time by telling Lindale that the IOUs are in his room. Lindale heads off to search Callan’s room, locking him in.

I like the use of a gun room for this as it’s actually exactly the type of room that would have a lock on the door. The next shots tell us Callan goes to the door and has a look at the lock. I think he may then try to bash the door as “He runs” and the camera quickly follows him in back and forth different directions. He must be anxiously thinking what he can do because we’ll soon see he’s sent Lindale on a wild goose chase – Callan has the IOUs on him.

He heads to a window where Miller has appeared. Miller doesn’t need Callan anymore and this is his time for revenge. He demands the IOUs and an increasingly desperate Callan relents, telling him, “Catch.” As Callan needs to throw the IOUs, I think the window is supposed to be high up. Miller’s a sadistic sod here, enjoying Callan’s pleading, which helps the tension mount as he cries out, “For god’s sake man” and “You can’t let him kill me”. Miller taunts him, “You don’t look so big now” before eventually chucking down a single bullet.

When Lindale returns with Caroline, Callan seems to have gone and Lindale rushes to check the window – presumably it’s too small or perhaps even barred. Callan calls out to Lindale before firing. Why does he call out? Is this because he doesn’t want to shoot Lindale in the back or simply to ensure a better angle for his single shot?

Where is Callan?

Callan has obviously been hiding but it’s a challenge to work out exactly where as the camera script doesn’t tell us.

As Lindale goes to the window there’s a wide shot that favours him. In the next shot (another wide one), Lindale is turning away from the window in the background while Callan is in the right foreground as he prepares to shoot. To work out where Callan is, it helps to work out where both the door and the window are in the set layout. We have a photo from this set, but it only shows part of it.

Ann and Callan in the gun room as he hands her the negatives from grey box file

The photo shows Callan and Caroline later on in this scene, with him handing her the negatives. We know this isn’t a flipped image because Edward Woodward always wears a ring on his right hand, which clearly isn’t visible on his left one here. In the background is a table or bench of some sort, a gun rack set in an alcove and what looks like another alcove against a right wall. It’s mostly hidden by a shelving unit. There is light pouring from that area and I reckon this is concealing the door and steps that lead into the room. There are some earlier camera directions that threw me but I think they simply indicate Lindale and Hunter each moving upstage.

map of gun room indicating movements of Callan, Lindale and Hunter

When Callan tries the lock, the camera script is clearer: ‘PAN him RIGHT to door’. As for the window, when Miller first appears at the window, there are several camera instructions to follow Callan’s pacing up and down, but the last one indicates the camera should go left. Miller reappears at the window after Lindale has been confirmed dead and it’s even clearer this time: ‘PAN him [Callan] LEFT and FOLLOW his action with gun’. The design of the rest of the room plus the business with the IOU’s and the bullet means it makes sense for the window to be high up in an alcove. It’s either on the left wall, or in the lefthand corner of the back wall.

map of gun room set with Callan's position indicated by the shelving

Now we’re sure that the window is somewhere on the upper left side and the door on the right, we’ve narrowed where Callan can hide to enable him to emerge in the right foreground. And the photo gives us a clue. There’s a reasonably deep dark shelving unit that Callan could have hidden behind, concealing him from the view of the doorway and giving him a clear angle of Lindale when he’s moved to the window. Unless there is anything else to the left of where Callan and Caroline’s photo was taken, this seems the best spot.

Where is Bootwood Hall?

There’s a filmed establishing shot inserted in Part Two to represent Bootwood Hall, but we don’t know what was used for this, and it wouldn’t even necessarily have been a Northumberland estate.

As this is on writer James Mitchell’s home turf, (Mitchell hailed from South Shields, near Newcastle) I do wonder whether he had a particular stately home or other grand house in mind when writing about Bootwood Hall. By the mid-1960s country houses had become popular tourist attractions, with at least 500 of them open to the public by 1965 – more than double that of a decade earlier – so it’s reasonable to assume Mitchell had visited one.

Wallington Hall is roughly 30 miles from South Shields and was originally designed for shooting parties, while Cragside (a little further away) is the only grand house close to Newcastle for which I’ve found reference to a gun room; however, this was on the first floor and, with those high windows in the alcoves, it’s clear that Bootwood’s is below ground level. Mitchell may have known about these from local history, but neither were open to the public before 1967.

Another house was: Seaton Delaval Hall.

stone and brick basement with high alcoves and a door at one end leading to a lit corridor

The basement area of Seaton bears a resemblance to the alcoves of Bootwood’s gun room. We only have the camera script and therefore don’t know for certain how – or even if – the gun room was described in Mitchell’s original script, but the dialogue with Callan throwing the IOUs up to Miller makes me think Mitchell probably did indicate some design.

I’m especially inclined towards Seaton for Mitchell’s inspiration for Bootwood due to its proximity (just 14 miles from South Shields), the fact it had been open to visitors since 1950, and because James Mitchell would go on to use it as the family name for the main characters in his drama When the Boat Comes In (1976-81).


With Lindale dealt with, Callan hands the negatives to Caroline and we know from the existing photo of this scene that they’ve been in – what appears to be – a box file. Presumably Lindale had been carrying these. Between leaving Callan and returning, there’s a scene with him and Caroline in the library. It’s another element where nothing in the camera script tells us what was happening, but he must have collected the negatives from there, then taken them with him to the gunroom, ready for his getaway. Callan now arranges for Caroline to get away to the airport with a lift from Lonely.

Lonely’s appearances in But He’s a Lord, Mr Callan are nicely memorable and it feels like he’s getting more to do as the series goes on. Having him run around to get information for Callan is always a useful plot device but also highly practical from a production point of view; they don’t need to take Edward Woodward on location anywhere, nor construct any other sets for what would be very short scenes.

Lonely gets the title line, which is some early evidence of his reverence for the aristocracy and royals. He’s horrified that he and Callan are breaking into a Lord’s house, so Callan reassures him. Lonely: It's too risky. Besides he's a lord, Mr Callan. Callan: Of course he is. That's where he is this afternoon. House of Lords. He gets four pounds fourteen and sixpence a day. Less than you. Here we are. We got lots of time. Go and keep watch.


A daily expenses allowance for Peers was first introduced in 1957, enabling them to claim up to three guineas (three pounds and three shillings) for each day of attendance. In 1964 this was raised to four and a half guineas. Four pounds fourteen shillings and sixpence (i.e. four and a half guineas) in 1967 is roughly equivalent to around £230 in 2024. Today, those attending the House of Lords can choose to claim £332 a day…

I love the fact that Callan knows this detail. Maybe it came up in conversation the previous evening, which would also explain why Callan knows Lindale will be out. Yet I also like to think that Callan remembers the exact amount on account of his rather different working class outlook; unlike Lonely, he has no deference for the aristocracy.

Compared to others, the camera script for But He’s a Lord, Mr Callan has slightly more information about visual action. Generally, this is because they are instructions in relation to specific onscreen actions – either to switch cameras or for camera movements. Happily, this means we know that Lonely takes his hat off when he walks into the library at Bootwood Hall and clocks Caroline with Callan.

I am delighted that I can picture this perfectly, down to the surprised or perhaps even sheepish expression on Lonely’s face. With Lonely having earlier commented on Callan’s fancy clothes for the weekend, Callan now echoes Lonely’s exclamation, “Cor. You don’t half have some smashing gear.” I wonder whether Edward Woodward would have played it mockingly or deadpan. Lonely’s response – “I feel a right nana in this lot” – is enough to tell us that he is in full chauffeur’s uniform.

There’s been a shooting accident

Due to the stock footage of grouse shooting inserted at the start of Part Three, we know that the shooting party had already started when Callan, Hunter and Lindale met that morning. As we don’t see anyone else at Bootwood (bar a maid without any lines), we’ll presume some locals had come to Bootwood and were already out there, with Miller and Hunter soon to join them. This also means that another shot going off on the estate won’t have aroused any suspicion.

Callan calls the police to say Lindale has been shot dead then chats with Hunter, confronting him with the fact that Meres had told Lindale that Callan was cheating and this was why Lindale was going to kill him.

Hunter: only you didn't die. Callan: not your fault Hunter: you're not important to me, Callan. Those negatives were. Callan: And Miller? He's important. Hunter: So long as he's with the section. Callan: I doubt if that'll be long.

The negatives were burned by Caroline before she left, but Callan now tells Hunter that there were some prints of the photos in the gunroom and he’s posted them to a friend. He’ll hand them over if Hunter agrees to say that Lindale was killed by Miller, who we last saw just after Lindale was shot and Callan told him to scarper. Without seeing the action with the box file in the gunroom, we can’t be sure whether or not Callan is bluffing about this. Some photos could well have gone away with Lonely, but there is no dialogue between Callan and him to indicate this so it seems unlikely. However, Hunter can’t afford to call Callan’s bluff and agrees.

It’s a grubby ending. This time Callan is told to his face that he’s not important and Miller has again outlived his usefulness to the Section, so Hunter will betray him. Miller had blamed Callan for the Section abandoning him to his fate five years ago, and the Section then cultivated Miller’s vindictiveness to set Callan up for Lindale’s death. As a result, Callan ends up manoeuvring Miller into the frame. Even though I believe Miller’s bitterness towards Callan is unjustified, it still seems unfair. Callan is forced into a corner and has to do quite a shitty thing, ultimately, because of the Section’s callous processes.

File on a Deadly Deadshot

Certain elements of But He’s a Lord, Mr Callan felt familiar to me, which is because James Mitchell would reuse them a few years later. Between 1970 and 1976, he wrote a series of Callan short stories for the Sunday Express. These were subsequently collected into two volumes by Ostara Publishing, who also republished some of James Mitchell’s novels. The 11 March 1973 edition of the paper included File on a Deadly Deadshot and this story was among the first batch of Callan short stories adapted for audio by Big Finish in 2018.

newspaper clipping with headline Dead shot Callan's gun party date

Callan again travels to a Lord’s country estate in Northumberland, which is hosting a shooting party, and he’s accompanied by Lonely. Onscreen, Lonely acts as chauffer, but he gets a promotion to valet (“A valley?”) in the short story. In But He’s a Lord, Mr Callan, Hunter is part of the shooting party and Callan finds him in the gun room with a set of shotguns, commenting, “These your guns? Lovely. Purdys. Matched pair.” The guns appear again in File on a Deadly Deadshot, where Hunter shows one to Callan, but this time he’s depicted as less knowledgeable about shotguns and it’s Hunter who tells us, “It’s a Purdy. One of a matched pair.”

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