The Revenue Men

1967 | United Kingdom

An action adventure series featuring the exploits of Customs and Excise investigators. Not the men and women who greet us when we return from abroad, wanting to know if we have anything to declare, but the investigation team behind them who are concerned with more serious matters.

This realistic drama series didn't present a romantic notion of the smugglers from days of yore, but got down to the nitty-gritty of modern day drug traffickers, whisky hijackers, and major smuggling rings routing strategic cargoes to forbidden countries. The series concentrated on the customs officers who form the Investigation Branch (IB). This series didn't follow the uniformed men and women seen at ports, harbours and airports (the Waterguard), nor the Outdoor Branch checking on fuel and spirits tax, but those who work tirelessly and undercover to unmask organised crime gangs, where the stakes are often monstrously high. 

IB officers usually speak more than one foreign language; they are trained in the techniques of detection and interrogation and have wide reaching powers; they can arrest, and they can confiscate and have a roving commission empowering them to follow a case anywhere in Britain of abroad. Recruited from different areas within the various Customs and Excise departments and serve a two-year probationary period in the IB. 

The series had four central characters; Ewen Solon as Caesar Smith, a bachelor with a taste for sailing, who came from the Outdoor Branch and who was happiest behind the wheel of a sports car; James Grant as Ross McInnes, fresh from the Waterguard and the new boy - less experienced and somewhat impulsively ruthless which almost leads him to loose his job in the first episode; Callum Mill as Stuart Campbell, the head of the Investigation Branch and Claire Neilson as Campbell's secretary, Luke. 

The series ran on BBC2 for 13 episodes from 1967 to 1968 and was produced by Gerard Glaister who went on to produce Colditz, The Brothers, Secret Army and Howard's Way. He also worked on the phenomenally successful Dr Finlay's Casebook, which ran for nine years from 1962. Unfortunately, The Revenue Men was not a major hit and only one series was ever made. 

Published on July 17th, 2019. Written by Marc Saul for Television Heaven.