I worked (Music Adviser) on the last series of the show and can offer some insights into this. The fact is that there was only just a Series 8. BBC Drama (Series and Serials) were very reluctant to commission the last series; they thought that the show had run its course. One problem was that the producer, Geraint Morris, was already thinking about his next commissioned show (King's Royal), and was also working on a new series that was going to showcase Jessica Bentham – The Heywood Files. The Heywood Files went all the way through the commissioning process (I was listed to write the music) before being shot down at the very last moment. At best, Geraint was phoning it in on The Onedin Line's last series, and frequently said so.
Series 8 was not a happy show. Geraint Morris and veteran director Gerry Blake had a simmering feud at best, fueled largely by Geraint's shameless nepotism and Welsh-centricity; by Series 8, the language of the control gallery was most emphatically Welsh, with the producer, half the directors, half the DA's (one was Geraint's nephew) and the Production Manager leaping into Celtic-language titters at every opportunity, to the snarling fury of all around them (and I write as a Gaelic speaker). Meanwhile, the script editor (Mervyn Haisman) was driving the show further and further into soap opera, to the horror of the standing cast. Merv the Scribe (as we called him, more or less affectionately) actually drafted an Episode 10 for Series 8, but it had so many insane plot twists and character implausibilities that it was put down long before it could be produced.
At the end of the very last dub of the very last show, just after Peter had intoned "I've got a son," Gerry Blake turned to me and the Sound Manager and said "Thank God that's over. If we tried to make another series of this thing, someone would get hurt." We then all went and got very, very drunk.
Bill Scanlan Murphy
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