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It is 40 years since the first barrel of oil was drawn out of the North Sea, overflowing with slippery promise. That first barrel ushered in an era in which the UK dared to dream of global influence, wealth beyond measure, and an infinitely brighter future. The Prime Minister in 1977, James Callaghan, described North Sea oil as a God-given opportunity. But has Britain made the most of that opportunity?
This 3-part series, presented by James Naughtie, hears from those who were there at the beginning of Britain's 'black gold' rush, those who have wrangled over managing the industry over the last 4 decades, and those who seek now to make the best of a dwindling supply. It is the story of how our political, economic, and cultural institutions planned for and dealt with the unexpected windfall and challenge of North Sea oil.
Programme 1, Black Spring, tells the story of a technical and engineering miracle that took place against the odds, in stormy seas hundreds of feet deep, in the 1970s. We'll hear how achievement in the North Sea boosted both tax revenues and national confidence, at a time when both were in dangerously short supply.
James Naughtie charts the hopes and legacy of Britain's oil boom.