Charles Russell is a spymaster with the British Security Executive.
There is remarkably little known about Russell, especially astonishing since so many books have been written about his adventures. Considering the style of writing and the low-key approach to most things that the Colonel takes, however, it probably shouldn't come as that much of a surprise.
It is known that he was in the British army for a considerable amount of time, rising as he had to the rank of Colonel. He had seen duty in India during his career as well as other unspecified hotspots. His regiment, unspecified, was, according to comments made, routinely given the hardest of assignments which they routinely accomplished, though not without considerable loss. It was recorded that he was one of the few who survived but his pride in his service showed clearly in the long brisk steps he took and the stiff posture he routinely carried.
In "The Arena", it is written that he has had twenty years of experience in the kinds of troubles the Executive handles, although it does not say that all of those years were in the Executive. Nevertheless, in "Venetian Blind", it is stated that Russell was 'six months' away from retirement which supports the theory of a long bout of service.
Working on the basis of an early entry into the military, say around age 18, serving at least 20 years in the Army and another 20 years in the Executive, Charles Russell is at least 58 years of age at the start of the chronicling. This is confirmed in the later adventure, "Too Many Enemies", with the statement that Russell, now in retirement, was 60 years old.
Colonel Russell heads up a small branch in the British Intelligence community known as the Security Executive. It is the task of this highly efficient and well-thought-of group of people to monitor the state of the country and take care of matters that are likely to cause her harm. As Russell has many times noted to himself, practically nothing falls under the purview of his department and practically everything could.
It is Russell's job to predict danger areas and to send his people into them. Whether it is a highly-secret research facility or a much-publicized financial institution, his group is responsible for making sure things don't get too far out of the norm.
The ability of Charles Russell to do his job as well as he had is best summed up by the words of the Home Secretary when he said that nine-tenths of the job of running the Executive was working the 'files, the dossiers, the interminable cross-checking' but that the other tenth was what counted in the pinches. He stated that 'Russell had a flair. A nose. He smelt things.' It was meant as the highest praise.
As the series progresses, Russell changes. This is done in two different ways. The first is that he soon does retire as head of the Security Executive, spends some time as a retired man who gets involved nevertheless, and finally returns to service as a 'Co-Chairman' of the organization. The second is that Russell, in the beginning, was very much a behind-the-scenes man who seldom mixed it up himself. As time passes, however, he becomes far more a man of action than just a planner. The changes are gradual but steady.
Russell stands 6'1 and weighs 161 pounds. He enjoys golf and fishing.