Wednesday 27 September 2023

Celebrity Jukebox #108: David McCallum

It's not so long since I covered The Man From U.N.C.L.E. here, and for most that would serve as a fitting tribute to the actor David McCallum, who died, aged 90, earlier this week. Particularly as I couldn't find any songs that mentioned him by name. Although any excuse to play this again...

And this...

Growing up when I did, my first encounter with David McCallum came not through U.N.C.L.E., but through his starring role alongside Joanna Lumley in Sapphire & Steel, surely one of the weirdest TV shows of the late 70s and early 80s.

All irregularities will be handled by the forces controlling each dimension. Transuranic heavy elements may not be used where there is life. Medium atomic weights are available: Gold, Lead, Copper, Jet, Diamond, Radium, Sapphire, Silver and Steel. Sapphire and Steel have been assigned.

So went the intro to the show... and that was about as much explanation as writer PJ Hammond ever gave to his characters. Basically, Sapphire and Steel were some kind of time agents who turned up and solved weird, spooky sci-fi-related mysteries. Were they human? Were they aliens? Were they ghosts? Who could say? But I found it gripping as a kid... especially the episode set in an abandoned railway station, the plot of which remains with me to this day, despite the show having never been repeated. (It's available on Britbox / ITVX though, and I keep meaning to rewatch it.)

Sadly, I couldn't find any pop songs that mentioned this wonderful series, but then I remembered another David McCallum show I watched as a kid... one that predated even Sapphire & Steel. It only lasted one series... but there are quite a few songs named after it (or at least, the HG Wells novel it was based on). So I'm going with those today. It was that or I started looking for songs that mention NCIS, a show which gave him a resurgence in popularity in his later years, and one which my dad watched regularly. Rest in peace, David, you were anything but The Invisible Man...


(That one from the new HF album, their first in 7 years. Pretty good it is, too.)

(I love Queen, but that has got to be their worst video ever.)

That's ten for you right there. But my hands down favourite Invisible Man song is this one... Elvis at his best.

But if stars are only painted on the ceiling above
Then who can you turn to and who do you love?
I want to get out while I still can
I want to be like Harry Houdini
Now I'm the Invisible Man


  1. That railway station episode of S&S is the one I remember most too.

  2. I've never watched Sapphire and Steel, but if there's a Korean remake I certainly will. But I do remember the Invisible Man, and that Cleaners From Venus track is familiar. I wonder how many of your plethora of readers had that Man From Uncle corgi car where you pressed a button and the Men(or maybe just one of them) leaned out a window with a gun?

  3. My first memories of David are from the Man from U.N.C.L.E era - I was only young but it was so cool and so exciting and is what inspired me to become a spy (albeit only in my own bedroom).
    I love that Cleaners From Venus song - funnily enough was just talking about them and Martin Newell with a friend at the weekend and have since ordered myself a copy of one of his books, 'A Prospect of Wivenhoe: Snapshots of an English Town' (hoping it will be the motivatin for some blogging too!)


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