Survivors of the Titanic | Survivors from the famous shipwreck tell their stories
WRITTEN DOCUMENT 1947
28 February 1947
Internal Memo re government pressure
From: Senior Controller
28th February, 1947
To .D.G.Copy to: A/C.(Ent.), D.F., Mr. Collins
I had another approach yesterday, from the Ministry of Transport this time from the Permanent Secretary, Sir Cyril Hurcomb. I know him quite well, and he rang up to ask whether I would be lunching at the Athenum as he would like to talk to me on the subject. I had not a very profitable conversation with him, although I do think he genuinely feels that in some intangible way this humble half hour in the Light Programme is going to do something damaging to British shipping at a time when it is recovering very creditably from the war. He had read the script, and he admitted that we had met virtually all possible objections from the Cunard point of view, but he felt that there still remained the general point of broadcasting a programme of this nature at this juncture. I stumped him over this as I asked him when he thought it would he possible for us to do a programme on the "Titanic", and he agreed that it was not easy for him to answer. By way of trying to meet his point, I promised to see if we could put in a very short continuity preamble to the effect "In these days of Radar and other modern aids to navigation, it is strange to look back twenty-five years to a time when ..., etc.". I also promised to take out the actual mention of the White Star name as it was not necessary to the context.
I told him finally that we intended to broadcast the programme, that with our knowledge of the probable impact of the programme on its popular audience in the Light Programme we did not share his apprehensions of damage to British shipping, and that I hoped he
would recognise in the event that his fears were ill-founded. I think by this time Hurcomb had weakened a good deal on the whole
issue. In fact he implied as much, although he said he still had ( an irrational feeling that it was a bad thing to do at this
particular moment. He said he would have to put the matter to his Minister, but he did not think he could advise his Minister to approach the Post Office with a view to vetoing the broadcast.
I do not think we shall hear much more of it.
Document Type | Internal Memo
28 February 1947
In this memo, reminiscent of a plot from 'Yes Minister', the Senior Controller writes to the Director General of the BBC telling him about bumping into the Permanent Secretary at their club. He outlines how he gave the senior civil servant short shrift about the broadcasting of the Titanic programme.
Read the first document in this chain of correspondence.
The Athenaeum Club was founded as a meeting place for men who enjoy the life of the mind. Former members include Charles Dickens, Michael Faraday and Charles Darwin.
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Interviews with crew and passengers who survived the sinking of the Titanic.
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Dr Robert Ballard describes videos from the site of the Titanic wreck.
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Telly Savalas hosts a US TV special about the Titanic.
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The Head of Features asks if the play could be re-written as a documentary.
The government of Northern Ireland urges for the broadcast to be stopped.
Concerns that this play could damage the BBC's relationships in Northern Ireland.
A chance meeting in a gentlemen's club brings the controversy to an end.
A summary of the brewing controversy.
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