Saturday, March 3, 2012

PBS Commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic Disaster

With the 100th year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic—the deadliest peacetime maritime disaster in history—coming up next month, there has been a lot of attention given to the tragedy. Cruises to the site where the great ship went to the bottom of the sea a century ago are planned and in the United States, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is marking the tragic occasion with three new programs scheduled for April 2012. SAVING THE TITANIC premiers on Sunday, April 1; THE TITANIC WITH LEN GOODMAN, premiers on Tuesday, April 10; and NOVA “Why Ships Sink,” premiers on Wednesday, April 18, 2012. The latter investigates the safety of cruise ships and questions whether passengers are safe at sea today. Each program provides a unique perspective on the April 14, 1912, disaster—from historical drama to science to personal stories of the effect of the tragedy on the descendants of those who perished and those who survived.

“The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is an opportunity to take another look at what really happened in this epic disaster,” said John Wilson, Senior Vice President and Chief TV Programming Executive. “These three programs examine the tragedy from different angles—from the impact of the tragedy on the descendants of those on board, to the engineering challenges faced by the crew and, finally, a chance to ask ourselves if the safety of cruise ships has kept pace with the public’s demand for larger and even more luxurious accommodations over the last hundred years.”

SAVING THE TITANIC, premiering Sunday, April 1, at 10:00 p.m. ET, is a new historical drama that tells the untold story of the self-sacrifice and bravery of the ship’s engineers, stokers and firemen in the face of impending death. Starring an ensemble cast, SAVING THE TITANIC seeks to answer the question of what happened in the engine and boiler rooms after the collision. Based on eyewitness accounts, this is the remarkable story of nine men from the engineering crew who fought courageously to hold back the power of the sea and keep the power systems running, even when they learned that all was lost. Encore presentations are scheduled on Friday, April 6, at 10:30 p.m. ET, Tuesday, April 10, at 9:00 p.m. ET, and Saturday, April 14, at 9:00 p.m. ET.

Premiering Tuesday, April 10, at 8:00 p.m. ET, THE TITANIC WITH LEN GOODMAN examines the impact of the sinking on the thousands of affected families. For the first time, these tales of loss and love, triumph and tragedy are brought together, part of the Titanic legacy that lives on in the descendants. Len Goodman, best known as a judge on “Dancing With the Stars,” has his own connection to the ship. Before he was a dancer, he was a welder in East London for Harland and Woolf, the company that built the Titanic, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. To mark the centenary of the tragedy, Goodman takes viewers on an exploration of the ship’s hundred-year legacy through the stories of the handpicked group of men who helped build the Titanic and then died with her. He visits Southampton to find out why it was the city hit hardest by the Titanic’s death toll and explores the story of the ship’s band. He also uncovers the stories of 700 emigrants who were on board and had the smallest odds of survival. In London, he meets the men whose wealthy ancestors survived the tragedy, only to pay for their lives with their reputations. Encore presentations are scheduled for Friday, April 13, at 10:00 p.m. ET and Saturday, April 14, at 8:00 p.m. ET.
On Wednesday, April 18, at 9:00 p.m. ET, NOVA presents the premiere of “Why Ships Sink,” which investigates the safety of cruise ships. Twenty million passengers embark on cruises each year, vacationing in deluxe “floating cities” that offer everything from swimming pools to shopping malls to ice skating rinks. And the ships just keep getting bigger: the average cruise ship has doubled in size in just the last 10 years. Some engineers fear that these towering behemoths are dangerously unstable, and the recent tragedy of the Costa Concordia has raised new questions about their safety. NOVA brings together marine engineering and safety experts to reconstruct the events that led up to famous cruise disasters, including the ill-fated Concordia, the Sea Diamond, and the Oceanos. Are we really safe at sea—or are we on the brink of a 21st-century Titanic?
Check your local listings for broadcast times in your viewing area.

Titanic Image: Courtesy of Tile Films Ltd.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you compare the organizational chart of a pre 1960s passenger ships to that of today you will find that today the number of people who are involved in the actual ship, the part that floats and moves, is a distinct minority. Everyone else is in hotel management.

In the good old days, when the ship's officers made themselves known and mingled freely, you knew you were in a different world. One where the ability to operate, and indeed survive, depended on knowlege, training, lots of common sense and years and years of experience.

As a passenger, no matter if you paid a king's ransome for your room and spend most of your time pleasantly buzzed, the sea is a forbidding place. Original passenger ships immersed you in that fact, today's isolate you from it.

Automation and constant communication with the home office has blunted the Captain's image of being totally alone in his crushing burden. He can always call home.

Today I don't blame the officers for staying out of the way. Cruise ship passengers, like casino hotel dwellers are best avoided.

There was a time, I remember it well, when just knowing where you were was an all consuming challenge. Today the navigation/autopilot system takes care of everything. Different world, different mindset.

Point being, the emphasis on running a cruise ship seems to have shifted from seamanship, navigation, and simply being ready for the unexpected to simply making the passengers happy. The cruise lines will say they do both but I wonder.