Titanic – a.k.a. Drownton Abbey, Upstairs Drownstairs or…simply great telly?


As Julian Fellowes’ Titanic premiered on ITV1 last night, some in the leering press leading up to the broadcast continually referred to the Julian Fellowes project that, essentially, killed time between Downton Abbey 2 and Downton Abbey 3 as Downton Abbey at Sea. Call me crazy but I see absolutely nothing wrong with that comparison given that Downton Abbey has become that mega-worldwide phenomenon that it has in both the UK on ITV1 and in the U.S. on PBS’ Masterpiece series.

By Julian Fellowes own admission, recently reported in the Telegraph, Titanic does sound very similar to Downton Abbey given the times. He has talked from the outset of a sense of a society “on the brink”, the innocence of a proud country unaware of the Great War around the corner, the dramatic possibilities of a time when many resisted change with the same fervour that others embraced it. Just like Downton Abbey, Fellowes’ script follows different classes of passengers in each of the first three episodes, sinking the boat at the end of all of them…sorry, but I can’t justify the ending of Titanic as needing a spoiler alert. The final episode – broadcast around the world on April 15, ABC in the States, the 100th anniversary of the disaster – will show who lived and who died.

Leave it to the greatness of Stephen Fry, host of Planet Word, a BBC series which explores language, attempts to convey an understanding as to how we learn it, write it and sometimes lose it and, ultimately, why it defines us, to offer his thoughts through @mrsstephenfry on Twitter in well under 140 characters…

Whether you perceive the comparison between Titanic and Downton Abbey to be either fair or unjustified, it’s definitely not traditional Titanic fare as Fellowes’ version spends a great deal of time and effort making sure you know who is booked in second class in addition the usual following of both first and third class passengers. It’s probably a safe bet that there will definitely not be a Titanic 2 and Downton Abbey 3 is currently in production with a target broadcast date of Fall 2012 in the UK and January 2013 in the United States on PBS’ Masterpiece series.

Photo courtesy ITV

  • jt

    A friend in the UK told me Fellowes’ Titanic did not go over so well there, but I watched it, and I thought it was quite good.  The characters were reasonably rounded considering the number of them as well as the limited time in which to tell the story.  I think I recognised some of the actors on it as being DA alums, too.  The sets and costumes were truly wonderful!  No matter how good the acting, nothing can make or break a program as the sets and costumes can do.  This was a first class production all the way, and I have come to associate Fellowes’ name with top quality telly.

  • jt

    A friend in the UK told me Fellowes’ Titanic did not go over so well there, but I watched it, and I thought it was quite good.  The characters were reasonably rounded considering the number of them as well as the limited time in which to tell the story.  I think I recognised some of the actors on it as being DA alums, too.  The sets and costumes were truly wonderful!  No matter how good the acting, nothing can make or break a program as the sets and costumes can do.  This was a first class production all the way, and I have come to associate Fellowes’ name with top quality telly.