1 9 6 5 – 1 9 7 2 (UK)
136 x 50 minute episodes
This BBC series starred Ray Barrett as Peter Thornton (pictured below left), an Australian field agent for the multinational oil company of the title – Mogul, headed by hard-nosed managing director Brian Stead (Geoffrey Keen) and his financial controller, Willy Izard (Philip Latham).
The global surge in oil consumption during the 1960s and some high-profile political activity surrounding its production (including the UK’s introduction in 1965 of oil sanctions against Rhodesia) helped create an industry profile that was both exciting and dangerous.
Oil exploitation was an embodiment of vigorous global capitalism – it was also an ideal subject for a TV series.
After the first series of 13 (primarily studio-bound) episodes, the show’s title became The Troubleshooters – although it kept the title Mogul when shown in other countries.
The opening titles went all out to create a tense mood for the show, with shots of oil gushing forth, things exploding, planes taking off, racing cars, Barrett in a speedboat and Keen coming out of a Rolls.
The change of title also brought a change of approach, with strong use of exotic filming locations.
The Mogul company sent its principal troubleshooters – Thornton and Alec Stewart (Robert Hardy) – on an almost consistently exciting around-the-world cycle of fires on oil rigs, oil rushes, geopolitical turmoil and industry intrigue.
The strident theme tune was written by Tom Springfield (brother of Dusty) and the series was created by John Elliott. Ridley Scott was one of those who sat in the director’s chair.
The Troubleshooters was used by the BBC as a testbed for a new camera system that aimed to combine the speed and ease of video recording with the quality of 35mm film.
The newly-developed process mounted a film camera alongside a video camera and edit marks were automatically added to the film by a remote feed from the vision mixer’s desk, enabling a film editor to exactly match the video version of the show.
Unfortunately, the broadcast unions couldn’t agree if operating the modified camera was a one or two-person job, and the process finally drowned in a sea of red tape.