To mark the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April 2012, the BBC will broadcast a special range of programmes on TV, radio and online, exploring the people, history craftsmanship and legends surrounding the events of that fateful night.
Television - network
Titanic: A Commemoration in Music and Film
Exactly one hundred years after the ill-fated Titanic hit the iceberg on Saturday, April 14, 2012, Titanic: A Commemoration in Music and Film will broadcast live on BBC Two from the Waterfront Hall in Belfast in the shadows of the Harland and Wolff shipyard where the famous liner was built.
The 90-minute event will feature a line-up of local and international artists and will include the Ulster Orchestra, massed choir performances and archive and film material accompanied by stunning visual effects to retell the story of the ship, those who built her and those who ultimately perished or survived.
The project which has been commissioned by BBC Two and BBC Northern Ireland from the independent production company Whizz Kid Entertainment and the Anderson Spratt Group (ASG), received funding from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Northern Ireland Screen and is supported by Belfast City Council and Tourism Ireland. Ticket information and the concert line up will be announced shortly.
Titanic with Len Goodman
Before he became a dancer, Strictly Come Dancing Judge Len Goodman was a welder at the Harland and Wolff yard in East London, has his own special connection with Titanic.
A century on from the sinking of the ship, the programme travels overseas and across the UK and Ireland, from Belfast to Southampton and to Cobh (formerly known as Queenstown) in Co Cork to discover how the impact of the Titanic disaster is still felt today.
In this three-part documentary series Len reveals how, generations later, stories of the Titanic’s legacy are still unfolding and new perspectives emerging from the modern day descendants. A fascinating insight into the stories of those who travelled and worked on the Titanic and an exploration of reputations lost and won as the great ship foundered. Titanic with Len Goodman is an independent production from 360 Production for BBC One & BBC Northern Ireland with funding from Northern Ireland Screen.
Songs of Praise: Sunday March 11, 2012
Songs of Praise, presented by Eamonn Holmes, visits Belfast ahead of the Titanic festival with hymns including the iconic Nearer My God to Thee, having resonance to the programme’s theme.
The Reverend Chris Bennett, newly appointed Chaplain to the Titanic Quarter, shares his knowledge of faith within the shipyard at the turn of the century and his drive to establish a new faith community within the historic area. 96-year old Eleanor Thompson, a committed member of the Church of Ireland, shares memories of her late father - a senior draughtsman from the Titanic who escaped the fate of many of his colleagues on board and spent the rest of his short life questioning why he was saved. The Celtic Tenors will also perform Remember Me, composed by Phil Coulter on the theme of loss.
On April 12, 2012 Blue Peter broadcasts a special show from the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience in Belfast. Presenters Barney Harwood and Helen Skelton retell the forgotten stories of the children who survived the disaster; dive off the coast of Cornwall to see how ship wrecks play host to maritime life and Barney visits the biggest boat show in the world to discover what is cutting-edge and luxurious in modern super yachts and liners 100 hundred years after Titanic redefined standards of ocean going luxury.
BBC News will join a memorial voyage with passengers, crew and historians, recreating the exact journey of the ship a hundred years to the day. Coverage telling the Titanic story from its launch in Belfast, departure from Southampton to Cobh (Queenstown) in County Cork and its journey across the Atlantic will appear across BBC local and network news. On the centenary itself, BBC News will broadcast from the exact spot where the Titanic sank and will include live coverage from memorial services in Southampton and Belfast.
Radio - network
BBC Radio 2
Coverage will explore some of the myths and legends that surround the fateful night in April 2012: Titanic 100: The Myths and Legends will investigate some of the most commonly asked questions about the ship’s tragic demise.
Why was it called the unsinkable ship? Did a mystery ship pass by ignoring its plight and did it set sail with a fire raging in the coal bunkers? The programme features interviews with leading Titanic experts including William Blair from the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum; Paul Louden-Brown who acted as historical adviser to James Cameron for his big screen hit version of the story and Una Reilly, chairman of the Belfast Titanic Society.
BBC Radio 4
The station will mark the anniversary with a five-part series of programmes, beginning with the Ship of Dreams presented by Jeanette Winterson. It celebrates the Titanic as a vessel of dreams and realities and as a symbol of man’s power and fallibility.
Peter Snow will present Radio 4’s Random Edition, Sinking of the Titanic Special, which details how in an age of radio many in London first learned of the disaster via the Evening News - whose initial reports declared no lives had been lost.
Gerry Anderson will also explore how Belfast has reclaimed the ship it once tried to bury in the programme Titanic Town. And haunted by the sinking of the Titanic, the programme The Ice Mountain imagines the journey of an iceberg from its creation to its destruction.
Nations and Regions
BBC South Today
More than a third of the 1,517 victims of the Titanic disaster lived in and around the port of Southampton. They were mostly the ship’s crew. The disaster had a huge impact on families and the community, the impact of which continues to reverberate today.
In recognition of the huge loss of life BBC South Today will deliver two weeks of coverage from the beginning of April 2012, with an emphasis on the start of Titanic’s maiden voyage and the sinking five days later on Sunday April 15. They will also broadcast a special half hour programme on the human cost to Southampton of the tragedy on BBC One (South only).
BBC Radio Solent
Live coverage throughout the anniversary week of the ceremonies and services in Southampton and in a series of Breakfast Show features, Titanic Streets, will meet with Southampton residents to reveal the unique Titanic history within their homes.
On April 15, from 6.00am-9.00am a special programme will reflect the North Atlantic memorial service with guests including relatives of the crew and Titanic experts. This includes a specially commissioned piece in the style of the famous BBC Radio Ballads, entitled Never Again. This Titanic lament has been written by Hampshire playwright Philip Glassborow, with contributions from folk-singer/songwriter Peggy Seeger. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston will also present a two hour documentary telling the story of the Titanic’s final voyage and its impact on life in the South.
In April the station will cover a large street theatre project in Liverpool called Sea Odyssey and Titanic-related stories with links to the city. The event will see huge marionettes move through the streets of Liverpool, inspired by a letter from a young girl whose father was a passenger on the maiden voyage. BBC Radio Merseyside’s Linda McDermott, Roger Phillips, Billy Butler and Andy Ball will anchor the programme with reporters among the crowd and on the route.
BBC North West Tonight looks at Liverpool’s place in the story of the Titanic. Liverpool is the city where the ship was registered and many of its crew were from the Merseyside are. It will tell the story of Wallace Hartley, the bandmaster of the Titanic who played on to keep passengers calm. It will also tell the story of some of the survivors, including one who founded a Titanic delicatessen in Cheetham Hill and a perfume maker who suffered nightmares for years after.
A regional BBC One (North West only) half hour special programme will also cover the Sea Odyssey event.
BBC Northern Ireland
BBC News NI will extensively cover the Titanic anniversary with live reports, features and special series including the opening of the Titanic Signature Project, in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast where the ship was built.
The programme will also broadcast live from the remembrance service at Belfast City Hall on Sunday, April 15 as part of a BBC News NI Special starting at 6.30am that morning on BBC Two NI. Viewers will also get the chance to relive reporter Mike McKimm’s unforgettable encounter with Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic in 2005 with ghostly footage of the wreck 13,000 feet below the surface of the Atlantic. Much of BBC News NI's coverage will simulcast with the BBC News Channel.
Ryan V The White Star Line
A BBC New NI Special telling the story the owners of Titanic didn’t want anyone to know. This documentary reveals how an ordinary farmer from County Limerick successfully sued the world’s most powerful shipping company for negligence over the death of his son. BBC News NI uncovers this family mystery which has been hidden for a generation but which finally sets the record straight over the White Star Line’s handling of the disaster.
Titanic: A Commemoration In Music and Film
Live event from the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. The project which has been commissioned by BBC Two and BBC Northern Ireland from the independent production company Whizz Kid Entertainment and the Anderson Spratt Group (ASG), received funding from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Northern Ireland Screen and is supported by Belfast City Council and Tourism Ireland. Ticket information and the concert line up will be announced shortly.
Based on transcripts from the Westminster Inquiry this tense new courtroom drama tells the story of the British investigation into the sinking of the Titanic and its attempt to ascertain whether the SS Californian ship was in fact close enough to the doomed vessel to help save the lives of some of the 1,500 passengers and crew who perished. A compelling insight into a side of the story many people will not have heard before. Produced by Hole In The Wall Gang Ltd for BBC Northern Ireland with funding from Northern Ireland Screen.
A History of the Titanic in 30 pieces
A unique series of 30 one-minute programmes which tells the stories behind surviving artefacts and memorabilia from the Titanic found in Northern Ireland from personal collections, family inheritances or museums.
BBC Radio Ulster
Extensive coverage of Belfast’s big Titanic events will run on BBC Radio Ulster. The Saturday Magazine programme will host an outside broadcast from the opening of the Titanic signature building on March 31; live coverage of the Titanic Requiem from St Anne’s cathedral on the centenary of the ship hitting the iceberg and will broadcast live from the Titanic Commemoration Service in Belfast City Hall on the morning of Sunday, April 15.
The Titanic Letters
A special series of 42 short BBC Radio Ulster programmes, fronted by Belfast-born actor Ciaran Hinds, brings to life real life letters written about the Titanic before her departure, during her maiden voyage and after it sank. Read by Northern Ireland personalities including, (Amanda Burton, James Ellis, Ciaran McMenamin, Christine Bleakley, Eamonn Holmes, Gloria Hunniford, Patrick Kielty, Eddie Irvine, Dame Mary Peters, Phil Coulter and Brian Kennedy) one hundred years to the day on which each letter was written.
Gerry Anderson explores how Belfast has reclaimed the ship it once tried to bury. Visiting Belfast’s Titanic landmarks, joining tourists as they take to Belfast Lough for a Titanic tour and chatting to Titanic experts; Gerry considers the complex journey that has brought the Titanic back home and in to the heart of her native city.
Ryan Vs the Whitestar Line
A dramatized account of the sensational court case which saw the Whitestar Line in the dock accused of negligence and malpractice. County Limerick farmer, Thomas Ryan sues for damages for the death of his son on board the Titanic.
The Titanic Hymn
It was the Titanic band’s famous farewell. Cherrie McIlwaine charts the life of the hymn Nearer My God to Thee and its evolution across a broad range of styles.
BBC Online will produce a Titanic web portal featuring exclusive video and written content; special interactive features; rich archive material and coverage of Titanic events.