Friday, 9 March 2012

Radio Times - The Troubleshooters (1969)

This edition of the Radio Times dates back to 1969 and gracing the cover are the stars from the classic 1969 BBC TV series, The Troubleshooters.  The Troubleshooters (titled Mogul for the first season) was a British Television series made by the BBC between 1965 and 1972, created by John Elliot. During its run, the series made the transition from black and white to colour transmissions.........
The series was based around an international oil company – the "Mogul" of the title. The first series was mostly concerned with the internal politics within the Mogul organisation, with episodes revolving around industrial espionage, internal fraud and negligence almost leading to an accident on a North Sea oil rig.
Although Mogul was popular, it did not do as well as hoped for. However, it was renewed for a second series with the format radically changed. The title was renamed The Troubleshooters as the show altered its focus, broadening its horizons by showing the actual workings of the company. The series now focused on the younger, dynamic Mogul field agents - the eponymous "troubleshooters" - like Peter Thornton, who flew around the world to “hotspots” to protect the company’s interests.
With extensive use of BBC “stock” location filming, storylines concentrated on disasters such as explosions and earthquakes, company take-overs, racial and political tensions, the discovery of new oil fields and the negotiation of drilling rights.
As time went on, The Troubleshooters began to experiment with ongoing narratives as storylines arched over several series. Because of the nature of his profession requiring him to be away from home, Peter Thornton found his marriage to the glamorous “Steve” collapsing, whilst Brian Stead was diagnosed with a heart condition, struggling to maintain control of Mogul at the top. Ranged against him was new “troubleshooter” Alec Stewart, a young, ruthless operative keen to progress in the organisation with his eye on Stead’s position. Stead kept sending Stewart out on dangerous assignments in the hope that he would fail, but Stewart was able to work every situation to his advantage. In the latter series, a rival oil company to Mogul was introduced – Zenith.
At times, The Troubleshooters never shied away from portraying Mogul as a faceless, uncaring and profit-driven corporation. Some episodes showcased industrial crisis through the perspective of striking Teeside dockyard workers and foregrounded ecological concerns through storylines based around local opposition to a Mogul refinery in Wales and a chemical offshoot of Mogul’s, which developed a crop spray with deadly side effects. There was also no loyalty or sentimentality amongst the Mogul men – Peter Thornton, sent to the Arctic by Brian Stead to investigate possible oil concessions, nearly freezes to death and considers getting out of the oil business entirely. In another episode, Thornton is sent to Saigon, against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. Alec Stewart is arrested in Algiers as a spy and imprisoned – although eventually released, he receives little trust or support from his colleagues. Brian Stead, returning to Berlin for the first time since 1945 to oversee a natural gas drilling deal, finds his past coming back to haunt him in a nasty plot to discredit him by a rival company.

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