Irish slant to 'Titanic' series

Thu, Mar 22, 2012, 00:00

A MAJOR television drama to commemorate the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 is to be screened over the coming weeks.

Titanic is written by Julian Fellowes, the Oscar-winning screenwriter behind Downton Abbey.

The €13 million four-part series will be broadcast on TV3 over four successive Sundays from this weekend.

TV3 has invested a “significant six-figure sum” in it, according to the station’s director of programming Ben Frow.

Dublin-based Samson Films are also involved as co-producers and it has been co-funded with €380,000 from the licence fee through the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s (BAI) Sound and Vision fund.

The Titanic has been the subject of at least five major feature films, most notably James Cameron’s 1997 epic that became the most successful box-office movie ever, and the 1958 classic A Night To Remember.

Maria Doyle Kennedy and Ruth Bradley head the cast for the TV3 version, which has a strong Irish involvement. There is an Irish lawyer in second class with his embittered wife and a Catholic engineer from Belfast fleeing sectarianism.

Fellowes’s take is significantly different, in that the sinking is viewed from various perspectives.

The same scenes are shown from the perspective of different characters.

Fellowes said that previous adaptations of the Titanic story have focused on the upper classes on the top deck and the lower classes, usually Irish, below deck, but not the middle classes in between who include the crew.

Titanic was filmed in Hungary in a purpose-built 900sq m (9,687sq ft) tank. The relatively low cost of the production, compared to Cameron’s, is down to modern technology and the ingenuity of the series makers, said Mr Frow.

“You don’t see all the CGI stuff but you have more an emotional connection with a number of characters.”

Another drama for Italian television, called Titanic: Blood and Steel, was filmed mainly in Ireland. It will be released later this year, while James Cameron is planning a 3D version of his film.

Former US senator George Mitchell, who brokered the Belfast Agreement, yesterday visited the Titanic Centre in Belfast, which opens on March 31st ahead of the centenary on April 14th.