David McCallum, who plays the mysterious, icy Steel of "Sapphire & Steel" is no conventional actor, he never has been. Those lively eyes under a wide forehead give him the looks of an intellectual who doesn't really belong to the mass of ordinary people.
One could believe him if he said he arrived on earth from a remote planet. He has that sort of look about him. He is, in fact, a Scot from Glasgow, son of the late David McCallum, whom viewers saw frequently on their screens as lead violinist with th BBC Philharmonic and other orchestras. David, Jnr. chose acting from the days he appeared in amateur dramas at school. He had already made a name for himself in British movies when he went to Hollywood to play Judas in the Biblical epic "The Greatest Story Ever Told" and while there was picked by Norman Felton to play super-agent Illya Kuryakin in "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." What was originally intended as a secondary part was immediately built up to rank with that of Robert Vaughn, and international fame came his way. It is still the role that people remember him by more than any others, despite his success in such series as "Colditz" and "The Invisible Man". "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." was not only a it on television it was also made into several films. It was a lucky break, but David by no means depended on luck to get him to the top. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Not content with this, he went back-stage to gain experience as an assistant stage-manager with the Glyndebourne Opera Company and then to the Aylesbury Repertory Company as stage-manager. Called up for National Service, he soon gained an Army commission, but kept his theatrical hand in by producing plays.
Towards the end of 1953, and demobilised, he was all ready to resume his career when he went down with an attack of blackwater fever. When recovered his professional acting career began on t.v. in a production of "The Rose and the Ring" and he then returned to rep. in Chesterfield and Oxford before being tested by Clive Donner for the role of a mixed up kid in the film "The Secret Place".
His performance was so outstanding that he was immediately given a contract by the Rank Organisation. He was in "Hell Drivers" with Stanley Baker; went to Australia for "Robbery Under Arms"; and again appeared with Stanley Baker in "Violent Playground". It was a story of steady progress in such movies as "The Long and the Short and the Tall", "Freud", "The Great Escape". He had reached his 30s before "Man From U.N.C.L.E" catapaulted him into the heady regions of uperstardom. Despite all his films, tv has provided him with his greatest opportunities. There have, of course, been other films such as "Frankenstein" and "King Solomons Mines" (sic) but he will always be remembered most vividly for his tv series, repeating his "Man From U.N.C.L.E." impact in "Colditz" and "The Invisible Man" in particular. He has also turned his hand at directing, winning praise for those episodes he directed in "The Explorers". But without a doubt, "Sapphire & Steel, provides him with the strangest role he has ever played.