Titanic officer 'was no coward'

Published Tuesday, 20 March 2012
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Oscar-winning writer Julian Fellowes has criticised James Cameron's hit movie Titanic for portraying the ship's first officer as a coward.

Titanic officer 'was no coward'
First Officer Murdoch played by Brian McCardie (© ITV)

The new four-part mini-series about the 1912 disaster, which was penned by the Downton Abbey creator, starts on UTV on Sunday.

Fellowes told the Radio Times that the 1997 blockbuster, starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, had been unfair on William Murdoch, from Dalbeattie in Scotland, who was first officer on the doomed liner.

The master mariner, who went down with the ship when she sank after hitting an iceberg, was credited with launching the lifeboats that saved most of the survivors.

But in the movie, Murdoch shot passengers before taking his own life, which Fellowes says is inaccurate.

Fellowes told the magazine: "That was very unfair how Murdoch was depicted. He wasn't cowardly.

"He fired the pistol to just stop a potential riot. It was suddenly getting out of hand, and he fired it in the air. That's not being cowardly."

Fellowes added: "I don't think you can just say, 'Well, we'll make this guy a villain - he'll do."

He told the magazine: "I think with real people you have a kind of imperative to be true to who they were.

"I don't think you can take someone who was moral and decent and make them do something immoral and indecent.

"I would feel uncomfortable doing that. So we do have Murdoch, and we have him firing a pistol...(But) there is a little bit of setting the record straight."

His big-budget drama follows the lives of those on board the doomed ship, from first class passengers to officers and those working in the engine rooms, with a mix of real and fictional characters.

On Friday night, UTV will air a behind-the-scenes special, titled Titanic - The Story Behind the Drama. Alison Fleming will speak to Fellowes and go behind the scenes to meet cast members.

Titanic - The Story Behind the Drama is aired at 8pm on Friday.

© UTV News
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