Triangle BBC


Programme Guide

This series was set on board a ferry which sailed between Felixstowe, Gothenburg and Amsterdam.
Triangle Novel 1 The Radio Times heartily embraced the twice-weekly soap serial and brainchild of notable producer Bill Sellars, Triangle, as a programme which “could do for soap opera what Citizen Kane did for movies”. An ambitious claim which rather set the tone for the programme’s imminent failure to attract health audience figures or critical support, the series has been somewhat harshly treated by television audiences and pundits alike since its inevitable demise in mid-1983 (barely two years after its grand premiere).
The series took as its premise the Triangle Line, a shipping organisation which ran passenger and freight routes along the lines which marked a triangle between Felixstowe, Gothenburg and Amsterdam, and found ripe storyline fare in their personal and professional lives of the crew of the Tor Scandinavia (a ferry which doubled for Dana Anglia, one of the fictional Triangle crafts).
Seen as a potential successor to the enormously-popular 1970s serial The Brothers, the serial featured a strong primary cast in the shape of Michael Craig as Captain Anderson, Kate O’Mara as Katherine Laker and Larry Lamb as Chief Engineer Matt Taylor. Scripts were contributed from notable writers (Luanshya Greer, Leslie Elizabeth Thomas, Sue Lake and David Hopkins, amongst others) and directorial turns were undertaken by some of the more reputable names in the business (Marc Miller, Andrew Morgan, Darrol Blake and Terence Dudley). The programme offered almost limitless location expenditure by virtue of the fact that the BBC were experimenting with lightweight hand-held cameras and mobile sound and editing equipment, which resulted in the fact that Triangle would be recorded exlusively on location (on board ship, as it were) and as such, would prove an attractive lure for viewers used to studio-bound fare from BBC Television.
For a programme offering so much potential, the serial itself delivered precious little to audiences and was another substantially-hampered attempt by the network to establish a popular, on-going serial for audiences in an endeavour to draw them away from series such as Coronation Street on “the other side”. However, in its efforts to establish a near-completely-location-based serial caused inherent production problems almost immediately: tight, cramped locales such as cabins and areas below deck made for drab, unenterprising fare, and sequences recorded in cabin’s with portholes were shot with the curtains drawn to avoid glare and to sustain continuity when footage was shot in apparently daylight (despite the fact the rain teamed down outside). The turbulent nature of the North Sea tested the constitutions of the serial’s performers, and exterior sequences involving exchanges between male staff about whether or not Kate O’Mara would flash her breasts briefly to titlate audiences and characters alike proved to fall short of the mark (for the series was transmitted in a pre-watershed timeslot, and there was certainly no question of Ms O’Mara turning Page Three Talent in the bitterly cold conditions).
BBC's new light-weight video-recording The series was a conflagration of perspectives, with the programme and its publicity machine believing it could give series like Dallas a run for their money, and yet audiences and members within the hierarchy of the corporation recognising that the prorgamme was a second-rate soap-serial with a first-rate cast and premise, poorly realised and rapidly sinking without trace. Viewers were further disenchanted with the sexual content of the serial, which essentially consisted of attractive people exchanging clichéd double entendres and adjusting clothing before slipping away off camera (hardly the kind of material which had healthily sustained the popularity of United States imports such as Dallas and Dynasty, however gauche these particular enterprises turned out to be). Certainly, the only by-product that can chiefly be placed at Triangle’s door is that is elevated Kate O’Mara into “super-rich-bitch” status and enabled her to make the trans-Atlantic leaps back and forth with consummate ease throughout the 1980s and 1990s (a rise to stardom which enable her to cast Triangle adrift in the third and final series, in which she failed to appear and her absence was hastily explained away in the opening episode).
The series is a wonderful example of the BBC’s capacity to experiment with television as a format and tinker with genres, but as has been the case with a variety of other productions from the network (Rhodes, Eldorado, Mister Charity, et al), a profound error of judgement rapidly becomes a highly-costly exercise in damage limitation and terrible scheduling, played out for the mild amusement of its audience-share. Triangle was essentially another dubious flirtation with what has often been described as “avarice serials” (as exemplified by The Brothers’ and Howards’ Way, both of which proved to be far more successful formats than this particular offering, due in-part to Gerard Glaister’s capacity to turn a simple premise into a wonderfully addictive programme).
The series was globally exported, but the limit of its commercial realisation were two television tie-in novelisations. A serial for which the BBC has never been entirely proud, the programme has rarely been repeated by virtue of satellite networks and has faded in the viewership’s memory to something of a comical offering under the guise of drama.
Matthew Lee

Internet Pages:
Graham Kibble-White on Triangle

Broadcast Dates:
* Triangle was transmitted on Monday and Wednesday evenings, then reverted to Monday and Tuesday evenings.
For full details about the three series click here!


Production Company:
BBC 1981-1983

Your Views:
Is it possible to this produktion on DVD?
Yours sincerely
Ulf Nilsson - 28/07/06

Now this was a hoot! I remember Kate 0'Mara on the deck, topless, and the sea was all grey and the sky was all grey and... WHAT WAS SHE PLAYING AT?! Then there was a man who was really nice but then turned devious and untrustworthy overnight for some reason I forget.
Then Diana Coupland turned up as some tragic woman who had been left the Triangle Line by her husband, and she seemed to cry a lot. I couldn't stop thinking of her as 'Jean', the character she'd played in 'Bless This House', and it was all really confusing. A sort of fag end series really. Shame, but still, it could be amusing!
Andrew Brett - 24/06/04

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Soap Cross-over


Kate O'Mara Cast:
Dawn Addams
Mrs Landers

George Baker
David West

Diana Coupland
Marion Terson

Michael Craig
Captain John Anderson

Joan Greenwood
Judith Harper

Penelope Horner
Sarah Hallam

Paul Jerrico
Charles Woodhouse

Larry Lamb Larry Lamb
Matt Taylor

Elizabeth Larner
Jo Bailey

Nicolette McKenzie
Maya Anderson

Wanda Moore
Susan Porter

Cindy O'Callaghan
Linda Kennedy

Kate O'Mara
Chief Purser Katherine Laker

Douglas Sheldon
Arthur Parker

Nigel Stock
Wally James

Last Update: 28/08/06

Special thanks to:
Marcus Durham & Matthew Lee

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