A BBC Television Drama Production for BBC-1 devised and created by John Elliot.
MOGUL - Production Notes / Series Overview / Episode Guide / Character Biographies / Cast And Crew / Cast Biographies / Crew Biographies
TROUBLESHOOTERS - Production Notes / Series Overview / Episode Guide / Character Biographies / Cast And Crew / Cast Biographies / Merchandise / Links
© Matthew Lee, 2003.
Arguably, the 1960s was the creative era in which British Television flourised on the world stage. The variety of concepts introduced, supported by strong scripts and excellent performances, had consolidated and strengthened British programmes to the extent that they were now steadily exported to countries around the world. By 1965, BBC Television had already succeeded in exporting Z-Cars, Doctor Who, Maigret and Doctor Finlay's Casebook, whilst ITV were scoring highly with trans-atlantic co-productions and were responsible for one of the most memorable productions of the decade including The Avengers - one of the most imaginative and ever-changing formats of the day. Programming ranged from police to emergency services, from shadowy underworld figures to action-adventure heroes seeking justice in a corrupt world.
Amid this Sargasso sea of creativity, 1965 marked the turning point in British television's output, seeing the creation of programmes which would live long in the public's memory and become internationally renowned and successful exports. AP Films and ITV joined forces to commission Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds, BBC Television introduced The Wednesday Thriller (a logical continuation of The Sunday Play serials), Granada Television produced The Man From Room 17, Douglas Wilmer and Nigel Stock emerged from the BBC Television Detective series to feature in Sherlock Holmes, ABC Television introduced Redcap and Public Eye, Out Of The Unknown premiered on BBC-2. BBC Television scored highly with the premiere of two new soap operas, The Newcomers and United! (the former of which featured a very young Wendy Richards). ABC Television's The Avengers launched the leather-clad Emma Peel onto an unsuspecting British viewing public, and television was certainly never the same again after her appearance. ITV's successful The Plane Makers transformed into The Power Game, and BBC Television introduced Tomorrow's World. The future looked bright and the creative ingenuity and entertainment of British Television continued unabated.
In 1963, John Elliot had resigned from BBC Television to pursue for serious writing projects, but prior to his departure he had presented the network with an option on a series he had been keen to script - Mogul - a series concerning the work of oilmen and the boardroom battles of a fictitious corporation. Travelling the world to research his subject, Elliot returned to find that the BBC were keen to take an option on the programme for thirteen fifty-minute episodes. However, he was met with numerous bureaucratic obstacles within the BBC hierarchy who considered the network unprepared to produce a programme of that nature at the time. When the programme was eventually commissioned to proceed, areas of disagreement over content and direction for the series (including a watered-down change of programme title to Delta) put paid to progress whilst the programme was in its infancy.
Faced with the BBC electing to cancel the programme before it had even entered production, John Elliot called upon the services of a friend whom he had previously worked with. Joining forces with Peter Graham Scott in an attempt to force the project through at BBC Television Centre, Elliot was pleased that Scott's persuasive powers ensured that the Head of Drama Serials gave the series the green light, and a production team could be assembled. Directors and script writers were lured from ITV to develop the project, and casting soon following. Geoffrey Keen was cast as Brian Stead, the determined and ruthless Deputy Managing Director of multinational Mogul Oil, whilst Australian Ray Barrett was cast as Peter Thornton, international troubleshooter and field agent for the corporation. Philip Latham joined the cast as Willy Izard (the company secretary), along with Ronald Hines as Derek Prentice (the Personnel Manager) and Barry Foster as Robert Driscoll (the Public Relations Officer).

The fast-paced opening titles (created by Peter Graham Scott and influenced by ITV's commercial breaks) established a tense mood which permeated throughout the programme. Shots of oil gushing from bore holes and rigs, explosions, speeding motor vehicles and aeroplanes lifting off from exotic locations, intercut with Stead emerging from a Rolls Royce and Thornton driving a speedboat in choppy seas, and concluding with the ubiquitous M symbol (for Mogul oil), introduced viewers to a more fast-paced form of storytelling more acquainted with the other side than on BBC-1.
The programme portrayed stories concerning industrial espionage, the lubrication of wheels in the Middle East to secure oil negotiations, the dangers of ignoring safety procedures on North Sea Oil rigs, the commercial exploitation of far-off bore holes, public relations, boardroom tensions and takeover bids across the course of thirteen fifty-minute episodes. Extremely notable guest appearances from Edward Woodward, Dame Judi Dench, Cyril Luckham, James Beck, Glyn Houston, Jack Smethurst, Charles Gray, Nigel Stock, Keith Barron, Ronald Leigh-Hunt and Ewen Solon underlined the unquestionable pedigree of the series.

Notable members of the production unit were Peter Graham Scott, Michael Hayes and Peter Cregeen (the latter of which played an important part in Doctor Who's declining years in the late 1980s and wasresponsible for commissioning Carlton Television's highly-successful Peak Practice), whilst the writing team boasted the talents of John Elliot (A For Andromeda, The Andromeda Breakthrough), Kenneth Ware (Z-Cars), John Lucarotti (Doctor Who) and James Mitchell (Callan).

Mogul was a success with critics and viewers alike, but failed to entirely capture the British viewing public's imagination (as reflected in moderate ratings figures). However, the programme was immediately recommissioned - but with the provision that changes would need to be made before the series returned for an extended twenty-six episode second season. The most important alteration would be the change in programme title, as a means of attracting higher audience figures, and changes to the cast. The Troubleshooters, as the series would be known henceforth, would hone the strengths of the original series, but subtle changes in cast and plotting would ensure the programme steady gained in viewer appreciation.

The programme was a commercial success for BBC Television, exported around the world in sixty countries. Whilst further seasons of this programme were re-titled The Troubleshooters in the United Kingdom, the series retained the title Mogul for the purposes of overseas sales. The series has (to date) never been made commercially available on either VHS or DVD.