Season 3 Episode 8


Aired Saturday 9:00 PM Jun 10, 1970 on ITV
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Episode Summary

Callan and Cross must break a Russian spy out of prison and kill him.

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  • Russian spy, Lubin, allows himself to be imprisoned to keep out of the hands of the Section. He has a list of top British agents in his head and knows the KGB will plan a prison break. Hunter orders Callan to break him out instead - and kill him.moreless


    Russian spy, Lubin, hands himself over to the local authorities and is put in prison for spying. It's a sentence of ten or so years - even less when you know your fellow KGB agents will break you out. He has had himself put away to evade the clutches of Hunter and the Section, who were just about to pounce and bring him in for questioning. Of course, Hunter is furious someone has escaped him and explains to Cross that they will get Lubin out themselves and kill him, and in doing so make it look like the KGB did it. What Hunter really wants is Callan, but Callan has the day off.

    In fact, Callan is in court pretending to be the most upright, moral, Christian citizen in London who wants nothing more than to help poor Lonely stay honest and out of trouble. The judge is so impressed by the quality of Lonely's friend and character witness that he sentences Lonely only to six months in prison for each of the twenty five minor theft charges, but to be served concurrently. Lonely is shocked because as best as he can figure that means twelve years in gaol. Although Callan is laughing and the prison officer explains that concurrently means the sentence is really only for a total of six months, Lonely still cannot fathom it. If he was bright, he wouldn't be a petty thief.

    When Callan returns to the office Hunter explains what has happened and what will happen. He tells Callan to go down to the interrogation section, which is obviously something all sane people avoid. Lubin's contact is there being questioned. Cross finds Callan's squeamishness amusing but is rebuked by Hunter, who knows all too well what goes on down in that nasty little section.

    With the information garnered from the contact, Hunter instructs Callan to conduct the breakout by Friday and transport Lubin to the coast over two hundred miles away where a Russian ship is in dock. They are ordered to kill Lubin with a Russian pistol near the ship, to make it look like a KGB hit. Callan agrees but asks for a favour.

    When Lonely gets a visit in prison from his only friend, Callan, he is happy. At first. Then Callan tells him he has a little job for him. Lonely says he can't because he is about to be moved to another prison, Castleview, although he doesn't know why. What a coincidence, says Callan, and explains exactly what he wants done.

    Callan, Mellor and Cross, the breakout team, continue training for the escape by climbing walls and going through the many details. Each has a job to do, driving, ropes, etc. Callan's main one is opening the locks.

    In Castleview prison at mass, Lonely shuffles his way over to Lubin and shares a hymnbook and a code phrase with him. Lonely informs Lubin of the escape plan then listens intently to the sermon. The priest talks about freedom and breaking through the chains - and Lonely wonders if the old guy is on to the plan!

    Callan visits Lonely at the new prison and is told Lubin is ready to leave. Lonely also provides an impression of the key to the cell he and Lubin share, and warns Callan that the main lock to D Wing is a Nighten triple action lock - very difficult. Callan is rightly worried and returns to tell Hunter of a possible hitch.

    Hunter already knows, has known for days, and has a practice Nighten for Callan as a present. Callan suggests this shows how much Hunter wants to get Lubin and Hunter agrees but adds that Callan wants Lubin just as much. One of the names on the list Lubin memorised for assassination is Callan's. He doesn't know what Callan looks like though, but Hunter says the KGB think he is a top man in the Section. Callan is baffled by this. He certainly doesn't feel like a top man.

    In the prison chapel while Lonely contemplates how to steal the silverware he gets to talking with the priest. Lonely comes across as a kindly, stupid petty thief who doesn't like sharing a cell with a spy because it's unpatriotic. The priest is very impressed by Lonely's meekness.

    Callan, Cross and Mellor,set off for the prison and Callan stresses they use no names because Lubin knows his. The get in and knock out a guard, managing to get into Lubin's cell. Callan knocks out Lonely who was wishing him good luck, and they flee in an empty petrol tanker. Callan and Cross drive, Lubin and Mellor hide in the back. It doesn't take the very suspicious Lubin to figure out that the driver is Callan, the friend Lonely has been talking about and the same one that is on the memorised list of spies. Lubin kills Mellor and takes his gun.

    The prison break is discovered, as is poor Lonely who is still unconscious. He tells the priest he was hit while trying to raise the alarm because he didn't want to see a spy escaping gaol. The priest is so impressed he plans to tell the governor of Lonely's bravery and have his sentence cancelled for his exemplary behaviour.

    Down at the beach Hunter and Liz are sitting in deck chairs drinking coffee, listening to police reports as the tanker comes closer. When the tanker pauses at a rail crossing for a train, Lubin flees into a lumber yard with Cross and Callan at his heels. After a gun fight, Callan shoots Lubin dead.

    Cross and Callan meet up with Hunter at the beach and drink his coffee. Callan explains they carried out their orders, killing Lubin with the Russian gun so the KGB are implicated. Mellor is dead, but no one is really too concerned. Callan tells Hunter Cross saved his life and was a good man in the break out.

    Hunter privately reminds Callan the KGB think he is a top man. Callan asks if he is. Hunter does agree with this and says the difficult, dangerous, dirty jobs will now all be Callan's. As if that is a prize. Hunter reminds Callan that they stopped this agent and this list, but there will be others. It is in Callan's best interests now to be even more vigilant - he's top man, after all.

    This episode is a good one to see how the Section operates and the boundaries it must abide in. Callan also discovers his worth - something which will become more important - and something that also continues to rile Cross, who considers Callan over the hill. It is nice to see Lonely doing his bit and being useful in his thieving ways, and also managing to get some good fortune out of the event. Although it is a more straightforward episode - big plot, things to do, etc rather than internal squabbling and backstabbing - it makes a nice change and is not at all out of character or distracting to the rest of the episodes. It also leaves a cloud of ill omen hanging over Callan as new top man. Why anyone should want to have that title is beyond Callan, but now it is his and it hangs around his neck like a noose.moreless

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Hunter: Something amuses you, Cross?
      Cross: Just Mr.Callan, sir. He's a bit tender-hearted for this game sometimes.
      Hunter: You've never been down to the interrogation room have you?
      Cross: No, sir.
      Hunter: I think perhaps you should. It might help to curb your sense of humour!

    • Callan: Oh… I see.
      Hunter: Yes, I believe you do. Do you see, Cross?
      Cross: Yes, sir. You want us to kill him.
      Hunter: Precisely. We've no alternative. It's time for Lubin to go.

    • Hunter [ on the failure to catch Lubin ]: Bumbling, inept… sometimes I think all the talent is with the opposition!

  • NOTES (0)