By creating Downton Abbey, you’ve now written the most successful British costume drama since the 1981 television serial version of Brideshead Revisited. How does Julian Fellowes, the creator/writer of what is now considered by the Guinness Book of Records as the most critically acclaimed English-language television show of 2011, occupy his time between the end of the second series of Downton Abbey and the beginning of production on series 3? Timing is everything.
Thankfully, 2012 also happens to be the 100th anniversary of the doomed voyage of the Titanic. The 4-part adaptation, which will air in April on ITV1 and also on ABC in the United States beginning April 14, sports an all-star cast that includes Linus Roache (Law & Order, Coronation Street), Celia Imrie (Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Cranford, After You’ve Gone), Toby Jones (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, My Week with Marilyn, Harry Potter), Geraldine Somerville (My Week with Marilyn, Harry Potter, Gosford Park) and the always brilliant, Timothy West, husband of Prunella Scales (Sybil, Fawlty Towers).
This has all the makings of Julian Fellowes in his element as he recently explained the difference between this version and previous incarnations of the Titanic story. At the London Film Museum press launch of the upcoming miniseries, Fellowes told the The Daily Mail, “This is a portrait of a ship in a way that other versions haven’t been. A Night to Remember is a wonderful film but it’s mainly about the officers. James Cameron’s was another wonderful film, but that is a love story set against the sinking of the Titanic… We, right from the start, set out to tell the story of the whole ship“. With stories of characters from steerage, second class and first class, as well the servants and the officers, this sounds a bit like Downton Abbey at sea to me…which is not altogether a bad thing.
Cool behind-the-scenes look at the making of the trailers at Pinewood Studios