1 9 8 3 (UK)
6 x 60 minute episodes
The British deep-sea trawler Caistor and its 36-man crew go missing off the coast of Norway in the Barents Sea.
Journalist Martin Taylor (Tom Wilkinson) – whose father Johnno (Joe Belcher) was the chief engineer on the Caistor – is determined to find out why, but his investigations lead him into the twin barriers of Royal Navy stonewalling and an impenetrable Soviet Politburo.
As the official search is abandoned, a private expedition to Norway is organised by Tom Silvers (Malcolm Hebden), the brother of one of the crew. But with both British and Soviet Intelligence determined to suppress public anxiety, Francis Main (Peter Eyre) has Silvers framed for the theft of the funds collected for the expedition.
As an official inquiry is announced in London, a lifebuoy is found by a Norwegian fisherman – but Admiralty scientist Dr Arthur Dowdall (Thorley Walters) deduces that the buoy has never been in deep water. Main’s assistant Simon Tate (Paul Geoffrey) rewrites the report to remove this conclusion.
The inquiry is interrupted by widows of the crew blaming the Russians, and the rumour that the ship was on a spy mission makes it into the national press.
Martin discovers that the Caistor was indeed fitted with special equipment for spying under the supervision of a man named Harding (Malcolm Tierney) who chartered the vessel – a photo Martin took of his father’s departure shows the extra equipment on the mast – and suddenly, his life is in danger.
He heads to Norway where he finds an ally in local journalist Erik Starvik (Bjørn Sundquist).
Returning to England, Martin tricks his way into the psychiatric hospital where Captain Huninger (Michael Lees) – who was leading the Royal Navy search for the Caistor – is being treated for a “breakdown”. Martin learns the truth about the trawler but is captured by some men working for Sir Peter Hillmore (Michael Aldridge).
Hilmore appeals to Martin to suppress the truth, telling him that the incident has ensured thirty years of peace in the west.
This (very) slow-paced BBC Cold War drama was inspired by the real-life sinking of the Hull-based trawler FV Gaul in 1974 which was shrouded in mystery.
The haunting theme A Cold Wind, sung by June Tabor, was so popular it was released as a single.
Sir Peter Hillmore
Dr Arthur Dowdall
Sir Philip Strang