Parodying the standard model music show and introducing incentives for new breakthrough artists alongside established stars like Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), Imelda May and K T Tunstall, Sounds from the Cities, devised and written by Michael Feeney Callan, spanned the British Isles to showcase music cultural variations in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Michael started his career as a script editor for BBC Drama in London and Ireland’s Ardmore Studios. He wrote for the ITV action series The Professionals and BBC’s Dr Who, and script edited the record-breaking detective series Shoestring. He also wrote Ireland’s first crime television series, The Burke Enigma. Among his credits are adaptations of Frederick Forsyth stories for PBS and documentary and music-related scripts.
My favourite screenwriting was The Professionals. Brian Clemens, its creator, was the genius behind The Avengers and ATV’s Thriller. He was my mentor. He taught me storytelling.
Notes from Producer Brian Clemens’ writing brief for The Professionals:
- Any political motivations must be subjugated to the ordinary human involvement.
- Keep the relationship with Ray and Bodie – with Cowley – firmly in the foreground.
- Steal situations from the headlines.
- Keep it moving. Fast.
The Professionals was producer Brian Clemens’ follow-up to his worldwide hit, The Avengers. It was launched by LWT in 1977, and Michael Feeney Callan joined the writing team in 1979.
Following a health breakdown while working as a computer analyst, Eddie Shoestring rebuilds his life as a radio “private ear”, pursuing investigations that arise from late night listeners.
Shoestring’s early episodes, script-edited by Michael Feeney Callan, were record-breaking, achieving the biggest ever audience for a prime time BBC detective slot. The series subsequently ran for two successful seasons. Stars Trevor Eve.
A small-time stamp dealer is libelled and destroyed by a powerful journalist. His one recourse is a “loophole” in the law which allows him to return the libel… in spades.
Adapted by Michael Feeney Callan from Frederick Forsyth’s short story. Stars Milo O’Shea and Gayle Hunnicutt.
Michael Feeney Callan was writer, co-producer and location director of Perry Como’s last ever Christmas show for PBS, which rounded off a 50-year career. Over several sessions, Mike worked closely with Perry to develop the script and learned of the singer’s obsessive devotion to his personal hero, Bing Crosby. “He gave me clear instructions,” says Mike. “He wanted his words to be supercool. He wanted to sound like Crosby.” Perry invited his old friend, the actress Maureen O’Hara to the filmed concert, which took place in the presence of Mary Robinson, President of Ireland, and appeared first live on RTE, Irish television.
The sudden death of the matriarch of Dublin’s most ferocious crime family spurs two rebel police officers to coordinate an attempt to smash the family’s hold on the city. One of the officers, Hannan, is related by marriage to the family, though this hardly tempers his savagery in meeting force with force. The other, McGettigan, approaches the investigation and resolution with the fearless brilliance of a chess master.
Written by Michael Feeney Callan The Burke Enigma was Ireland’s first crime series and a major critical and ratings success, widely noted as a landmark Irish drama production which established the template for recent series like Love/Hate. The six-hour series starred Ray McAnally, Donal McCann, John Kavanagh, Kevin McHugh and Barbara Brennan and was directed and produced by Brian MacLochlainn. Cinematography by Jack Conroy and edited by Arthur McGuinness.
On the eve of his marriage, Larry celebrates with a raucous stag night. But the the ceremony that follows is interrupted by a visit from the police. A claim of rape has been made by a girl friend of Larry’s who crashed the men’s night. The ensuing investigation by a male and female officer captures the dilemma of society’s preconceptions and biases about gender roles.
Written by Michael Feeney Callan and stars Tom Hickey, Gabriel Byrne and Lise-Anne McLaughlin.
A dying wealthy man decides to outfox his greedy family by burying himself with his wealth. Or so it seems.
Adapted by Michael Feeney Callan from Forsyth’s short story. Stars Dan O’Herlihy, Cyril Cusack and Shirley-Anne Field. Directed by Michael O’Herlihy.
Photo: Michael Feeney Callan on set of A Careful Man with star Dan O’Herlihy. Photo credit: Ree Ward Callan.