Season 4 Episode 7

Charlie Says It's Goodbye

Aired Saturday 9:00 PM Apr 12, 1972 on ITV
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Episode Summary

Charlie Says It's Goodbye
Callan tries to quit the Section when a girl he is seeing takes a dislike to his job, and a senior civil servant tries to defect to the east — or is he just a pawn?

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  • A top civil servant looks about to defect, being led along by Polish secret service and protected by a young minder. This comes at a bad time for Callan who may have found true love - except Hunter is determined this will not happen.moreless


    Callan goes into Liz's office and is told Hunter is waiting, but before he goes she wants to say she enjoyed working for him as a Hunter, but it's also nice to work with him again, too. He seems happy with this rampant show of emotion from the always cool Liz. Then it's back to business.

    When Callan goes in he finds Hunter squirreling through a pile of old files and Callan apologises for causing so much mess. Hunter shrugs it off and says Callan wasn't that bad as Hunter. Callan is curious as to what it says on his file now, though - emotionally unstable?

    No, according to Hunter it says: "An excess of subjectivity." In other words, He gets too involved and cares. Not traits sought after in the killing business.

    Still, Callan is eager to get back into work and wants something to do. Hunter says there is nothing currently requiring his special talents, but eventually Hunter pulls out a surveillance job which was going to go to someone else.

    The target is an upper-****gent and civil servant called Palliser, who moves in higher circles than the lowly Callan. And that was why he wasn't considered for the task – Callan is a bit common. The trouble is, the Section think Palliser is going to defect.

    Callan reads the red file for Palliser – an aristocratic, aging man from a wealthy family, has made a lot more money and is extremely intelligent with finance. In fact he is writing a report for the EEC currently. But Hunter says they believe he will defect to Poland soon. Why, Callan wonders, if he has money and power…? Oh. Not love? He sounds dismayed at this notion. So does Hunter, because it is with 'a feller'. This feller has already gone to Poland on a one-way ticket.

    The only other real friend Palliser has is Susan Morris, the daughter of a man Palliser went to school with. Palliser and Susan are going to a trade fair the next day and Hunter wants Callan to keep a close eye on him, and he also wants Callan to use his real name and a cover story that he is a security agent. This should be like waving a red flag but this is what Hunter wants, to shock Palliser into action. After all, Palliser is in a red file. He is not to be killed however, as he has powerful friends in high places. Well, at least not killed yet.

    Callan sees a danger - if Palliser is so important he will have a minder who will be prepared to hit hard and if that is the case, Callan will hit hard first, regardless of any high-up friends Palliser has. Hunter accepts this.

    At the Polish trade fair Palliser and a younger woman, Susan, are trying some of the Polish spirits. He has mentioned he is planning to go abroad, which she assumes is a holiday because he works so hard. He has a young man, Trent, watching him from a distance. Just then the head of the Polish embassy arrives, a friend of Palliser. It's Mr. Komorowski, and he charms Palliser away for a meeting. When they go, Callan sidles up to Susan and tries on the old lady-killer magic.

    Meanwhile Komorowski puts the hard word on Palliser, telling him he has had a month to think over the offer. To help expedite a decision Komorowski has a taped message from Palliser's lover in Poland, a love letter in French.

    Callan and Susan are looking at the exhibitions and getting on like a house on fire until Palliser returns with Komorowski and they are all introduced. When Callan says he is from the government security section there is only laughter from the two men – not quite the reaction he expected – but Susan is instantly hostile. When Callan wanders off Palliser gently chides her for being rude to the chap, but she says she has reasons.

    Callan eventually bumps into a reasonably clean Lonely and tells him to look for anyone that could be a heavy. Callan wants to find out if Palliser has a minder. Lonely strolls over to the perfume display, driving away customers with his pong. Perfume can't perform miracles, mate.

    Palliser is met by his minder, Trent, who offers to drop him off at home. When Palliser declines the offer it is made clear he has no choice.

    As Callan is about to leave the trade fair he is cornered by Susan who wants to apologise for her rudeness, but she claims she had a reason which she would like to explain. He accepts and offers to take her home if he can find a taxi – which of course is no trouble.

    Out the front of the exhibition he hails Lonely. They get into the taxi and Susan tells Callan she had a friend whose husband was investigated by security. Nothing was ever proved but they suspected he was selling secrets. Her friend's husband shot himself in disgrace.

    Callan is sympathetic and says he is like most security people in his trade - it is just a nine-to-five job mainly filling in forms behind a desk, and that's all he really does. Nothing exciting. He drops her at her shop/flat and they shake hands, as friends, then she leaves.

    When Callan gets back in the taxi he's lost in a bit of a day dream – he's such a softy for a woman - and Lonely comments on how nice Susan is. Out of his reverie, Callan asks if Lonely found anyone who seemed wrong at the exhibition. Only one, Lonely is certain - a young man who left with an older gentleman.

    It's this young man, Trent, who hears a knock on the front door of his flat and finds Komorowski waiting outside. Komorowski wants to know why Trent isn't minding Palliser but Trent makes a snide remark and is punched in the guts for his trouble by the Polish ambassador. Reluctantly Trent admits the older man is good, but says he is good too. So is British intelligence, Komorowski says, and they have started to snoop about. All they have to do is keep Palliser safe until he defects. Trent just laughs at the idea he might have to take on British counter-intelligence. Komorowski tells him if it seems intelligence will take away Palliser, Trent must kill him first.

    Callan has identified Palliser's minder as Trent and passes the file photo over to Hunter. Hunter asks if he's sure he is the minder and Callan says Lonely is sure, and, "Lonely can smell a crook the way you and I can smell a curry." Hunter gives him authorisation to pick up Palliser tomorrow. If they can get Trent as well then they should do so because he may have useful things to tell them - but all in all he is expendable and Palliser is not. He is to be picked up tomorrow at Callan's discretion - and it must be discrete.

    As Callan is leaving the office Lonely calls on the radio from the taxi and says he has followed Trent to his flat - and gives the address. Just then Komorowski arrives to see Trent. Hunter tells Callan to send Carter over to watch the place.

    In Trent's flat, Komorowski is paying him five thousand pounds for his work and telling him the plan. Trent and Palliser will leave at four the following afternoon and go by hovercraft over the Channel where they will be met in France. If anything goes wrong, Komorowski says, call me at the hotel. Trent just laughs smugly - what could go wrong? Never, ever say that.

    Especially as Hunter has a bug in Palliser's house and knows all these plans. He dictates his report into a machine for Liz to type, saying they will to all they can to prevent Palliser leaving and protect him. He thinks about this last point and changes it to just making sure Palliser is not too harmed.

    Later that night Callan turns up at Susan's shop, as they arranged. They go upstairs to her flat and chat. Does she have many friends? Not really. And Palliser? An old friend of the family. Poking in the shop Callan glances over one of the items for sale – spear fishing guns. He clucks in disgust at such a weapon. "Never could understand people who want to go around killing things for pleasure," says the government hitman. And he's serious!

    They have a drink and talk in her lounge room. She says she invited him over to apologise for her behaviour, but Callan has already looked up the files and discovered it was her husband who committed suicide after being suspected of spying, so she had good reason to be hostile towards him.

    Susan explains her husband was a submariner officer who loved his job but when the investigations started into his life he fell apart and shot himself six weeks later.

    Callan is sorry and she believes he is, but that doesn't change the fact it is people like him that hound people like her husband to death. Although her husband was exonerated later and they were all sorry afterwards it was too late. What would Callan have done? she asks.

    He is diplomatic and apologetic. "This is a job, and someone's got to do it. Now, I know that is the oldest excuse in the world but it does happen to be true. We do do the best we can, and sometimes innocent people get hurt and sometimes they die. I've said before we're not very proud of it. But it happens."

    She seems surprised by his candour and wants to know why Callan is being so honest. He says if they are to continue to see each other then they should be truthful.

    Susan goes to the other room for a phone call and on return tells Callan it was Palliser, hoping to take her to dinner. She told him she was with Callan and Palliser warned her Callan would hurt her, but she is unsure what this means. "Would you hurt me?" she asks, and he says he would try not to. He hugs her and she opens his jacket, finding his gun with dismay. "You've hurt me already," she says.

    Someone rings the bell at Trent's flat and he opens it to find Palliser standing there. Trent says it is set for tomorrow but Palliser believes that will be too late. He says he was feeling frightened and needed to talk to someone – Trent says he should have gone to see a friend, not him. Trent is obviously annoyed by the intrusion and the change of plans, but Palliser tells him he called Komorowski and the man agreed. Trent races off to call him, leaving Palliser to listen to a tape recording of his lover speaking a love letter in French.

    As Callan gets ready to leave Susan's flat and she thanks him for being so patient. Very un-Callan like, he stumbles and mumbles his words a little but says he thinks he is in love with her. Talk about a fast worker. She says that this cannot be, not while he still carries a gun. Although he says that's just part of his job she cannot see guns as anything other than something which killed her husband. Could Callan get another job? she wonders, but he just laughs at the notion. "When you're in as deep as I am, they don't let you go."

    Trent laughs at the love-struck Palliser playing his tape over and over again into his earpiece and offers his worldly advice to the lovelorn.

    "You should have stuck with birds, Dad. They don't make half the fuss."

    Palliser sniffs. "My dear boy, for me the fuss is the most important part."

    Palliser wants to use the phone and Trent agrees until he's told Palliser wants to talk to Susan to convince her to stay clear of Callan, some bloke from government security. Trent wants no chat on his phone about people from security and Palliser laughs at him over this. Palliser says he looked up Callan's name and found him to be nothing important – not even on permanent record. This just worries Trent more.

    Lonely takes Callan back to Susan's shop and snickers when Callan drops a box of chocolates he was trying to conceal in a newspaper. Unruffled, Callan goes in to see her. Of course she's delighted to have him drop by even though she teases him that chocolates are old fashioned. He promises to call by again and races off to the taxi, chuffed to have found himself another nice woman who thinks he is charming.

    In the back of the taxi he confers with Lonely over the plan for the day. They will drive to Trent's flat and Callan will go into the stairwell first then Lonely is to put on a milkman's apron and carry in a crate of milk - and start throwing the bottles at Trent's door. Lonely can't understand why and thinks it's a barmy idea. Callan says the whole business is barmy.

    In his office Hunter holds a letter up to Liz and asks if she read it. Of course she did as it was not marked secret. Apparently it points out that Callan has been neglecting his duty for some woman – is that true, he asks? Liz asks how she should know. Hunter gives a sly little smile, and proves that not much gets past him. "Because you like him, Liz," Hunter says, "And you trust him."

    She coldly says she cannot help Hunter, but she does know the letter came via Safe Hand from the Home Office. Why she doesn't check the safe hand documentation to see who sent it I don't know, but that's my two cents worth.

    Up in the stairwell for Trent's flat, Callan lies in wait as Lonely lobs full milk bottles at Trent's door. Palliser inside is confused but Trent, being the young cocky man he is, thinks it's yobbo kids. He races to the door but when he opens it Callan stuffs a gun up his nose and shoves him back inside. Callan tells Palliser to get his coat on, his gun trained on Trent.

    The young man snarls, "One day I'm going to kill you."

    Callan has heard it all before. "We can all dream, son," Callan replies. Suddenly Palliser throws his coat at Callan's gun, knocking it aside. Trent runs and Callan's shot misses, but then he remembers his main mission and ignores the minder, rounding instead on Palliser and ordering him to halt. Callan is angry and the only thing restraining him is the fact that Palliser has those high up friends.

    Back in Hunter's office later Callan seems pretty pleased with himself because he brought in Palliser undamaged, as requested. Why is Hunter so irked, then? Hunter says Callan's mind is not on his work as he spent most of the previous night with Susan Morris. Callan falters for a second then asks how he knows. After reading the letter Callan is livid but confirms the details are true except for the bit about neglecting his work. He never neglects his work.

    Hunter doesn't think this will remain the case… unless… "Where you thinking of leaving us?"

    Callan pauses for a second before admitting he was. Hunter does not take this idea lightly and warns him politely – but very seriously: "If you try I shall take reprisals against you – and Mrs. Morris. And I hope you believe me, David." Callan understands the understatement. "I believe you," he replies.

    Hunter wants Callan to find out who sent the letter, and Callan thinks it is obviously Palliser. Why not question him about it? He is refusing to talk, Hunter explains. When Callan suggests Snell working on him he realises Palliser's friends in high places would prevent that.

    Hunter gives Callan an order. "I want to know who sent that letter. I want to know who is onto the kind of work you do, and I want to know how they found out!"

    "Yes, sir!" Callan snaps, also eager to know.

    "And stay away from Mrs. Morris. That is an order, Callan!"

    Callan never likes authority and tells his boss succinctly: "Stuff it!"

    Komorowski is sitting comfortably in the foyer of an office when a bunch of serious men in overcoats arrive and circle him. He asks if they are Home Office, but then another man steps quietly forward – Hunter. Komorowski asks if they are there to arrest him. "I never arrest anyone," Hunter says ominously.

    Then you are here to protect me, Komorowski says, for he has come to ask for political asylum. Hunter says that's out of the question as Komorowski had just been working on setting up an operation. Komorowski agrees with this and says it almost certainly failed because he went to great efforts to make sure it did.

    That was why he chose Trent rather than one of their own expert agents to put up against Callan. It was never meant to succeed. Those above him have been suspicious and were watching him closely, but now he has proven his trust worthiness by trying to organise a defection. He is no longer under surveillance and could defect with ease. He goes to leave with Hunter and the entourage, but first Hunter wants to know about Palliser's lover in Warsaw. Komorowski is smug as he regretfully informs Hunter the young man died under interrogation.

    In Trent's flat Callan is busy checking out the typewriter. Lonely arrives after searching Palliser's apartment, stopping to complain about the milk he smashed all over the front door.

    "Oh gawd blimey, that milk isn't half beginning to pong," he whinges.

    Callan shrugs it off. "You should know, you're the expert."

    After comparing all the paper and typing Callan knows the anonymous letter was not written by Palliser or Trent. Callan has a thought and asks Lonely how he feels about doing a little breaking and entering.

    Palliser sits in Hunter's office, looking smug. Hunter tells him he is being uncommunicative and could be in serious trouble. Palliser doesn't think so as his resignation will absolve him of most of it. He can claim ignorance and that he simply talked to some foreigners he didn't know were spies until Hunter told him, and he had no intention of defecting. Try to prove otherwise, he smirks.

    So Hunter tries another approach and asks if he remembers Komorowski – the Polish trade delegate and his controller. He has defected to Britain now.

    This makes Palliser a little concerned but assumes Komorowski will just tell lots of lies to consolidate his position with the British. Hunter agrees but also says some of it must be truth or else he will lose his value. He told them about the tape he gave Palliser in French, which Section now have, and about the young man who made it. Palliser is very tight-lipped until Hunter tells him the Polish interrogated the young man to death.

    Palliser is stunned with grief. Hunter adopts a soothing tone and asks Palliser to tell him everything, because he owes that to the memory of the young man killed in Poland.

    Lonely breaks into Susan's flat that night and uses her typewriter, then sneaks back out to give Callan the sample. Callan tells Lonely to go and then puts his gun in the glove box of his car before going up to see his girlfriend. Across the road in a darkened phone box is Trent, watching and waiting.

    Callan and Susan go upstairs to her flat and he tells her he had to stop Palliser defecting by picking him up first. This was going to be his last job if he could manage it, Callan sighs, except something else came up. Someone sent an anonymous letter about him. Then he asks her why she did it. The oldest reason in the book - she loves him and would like to marry him, but not while he is doing this job. The gun put her right off. Good god, how desperate are these people? You've met twice and you're both in love?

    Anyway, she wrote the letter so that his bosses would fire him. He laughs at this absurd notion. "Fire me? From my department? Fire me?" There is a whole different meaning to that in the Section. The problem now is that her letter shows she knows too much about him. That makes her a danger. Callan promises to come back once he's worked something out.

    In the phone box Trent waits till the street is clear and then breaks into the shop. He waits, gun in hand, until Callan and Susan come down the stairs. He shoots and Callan pushes Susan behind the shop counter for cover. Trent gloats that he promised to kill Callan and fires more rounds. As Callan doesn't return fire Trent becomes cockier, realising Callan doesn't have a gun. This Trent bloke could be channelling the ghost of Cross at the moment.

    Callan sneaks up to the spear guns on display, conveniently mentioned earlier and loads one as Trent is reloading his pistol. Callan shoots him in the stomach and after some gasping and groaning Trent dies in front of Susan. When Callan tries to be nice and comfort her she is hysterical and recoils from him, horrified. That's the reaction I usually get whien I try to be nice, too.

    It's Hunter's office and Callan is very, very quiet as Hunter paces and asks if Susan will be a problem to them. Callan shakes his head. "No," he says sadly, "She doesn't like the work I do. She thinks I might come home… dirty."

    Another interesting episode in that it shows Callan's human side despite his job, but his usual bad luck with women just keeps on coming – although at least this one didn't die. Liz showed a bit of a nice side, too, which makes a change from her normal ice-maiden self. Hunter is back to his old nasty form, too, threatening Callan and his new girlfriend. Also good to have Lonely doing a bit in this one, but I did miss Meres. Not the greatest episode – I always find love lost episodes for main characters a little odd, as it does show a side not often seen and sometimes at odds with what you expect from the people you think you know. However, this episode was written by the creator so I guess he knows his characters better than me.moreless

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (14)

    • Hunter [ on Pallister ]: He does mix in rather exclusive circles. Winchester, Cambridge, you know, top civil servant… all that.
      Callan: I'd better buy a bowler.

    • Komorowski: In a capitalist society, business always comes first. Even before beauty.

    • Callan: Lonely can smell a crook the way you and I can smell a curry.

    • Callan [ on a fishing spear gun ]: Never could understand people who want to go around killing things for pleasure.

    • Callan: This is a job, and someone's got to do it. Now I know that is the oldest excuse in the world but it does happen to be true. We do do the best we can, and sometimes innocent people get hurt and sometimes they die. I've said before we're not very proud of it. But it happens.

    • Callan [ to Susan ]: When you're in as deep as I am, they don't let you go.

    • (Trent's advice to the gay Palliser.)
      Trent: You should have stuck with birds, Dad. They don't make half the fuss.
      Palliser: My dear boy, for me the fuss is the most important part.

    • Trent: One day I'm going to kill you.
      Callan: We can all dream, son.

    • Hunter: Unless… you were thinking of leaving us?
      Callan: I was.
      Hunter: If you try I shall take reprisals against you — and Mrs. Morris. And I hope you believe me, David.
      Callan: I believe you.

    • Lonely: Oh, gawd blimey, that milk isn't half beginning to pong.
      Callan: You should know, you're the expert.

    • Lonely: Mr. Callan, that did not seem right. Just walking into that bloke's flat – with a key!
      Callan: Why not? You're a respectable citizen now, aren't you?
      Lonely: Respectable? In this game? Gawd blimey, I was safer when I was thievin'.

    • Callan [ to Susan ]: Fire me? From my department? Fire me? Oh, it's not that easy. It's not that easy for either of us now.

    • Callan [ on Susan ]: She doesn't like the work I do. She thinks I might come home… dirty.

    • Callan: What does it says on my file now - emotionally unstable?
      Hunter: An excess of subjectivity, I believe they call it.
      Callan: Oh, yeah I like that. What does it mean when it's at home?
      Hunter: You get too involved. You care.

  • NOTES (0)