TV review: The One Show - Titanic special
The One Show BBC1
THEY know how to cover something in depth on The One Show. Sometimes items last upwards of 30 seconds. They once covered the history of the Second World War in the time it took me to eat a custard cream.
Last night attention turned to another landmark event of the 20th century, the sinking of the Titanic, a happening only slightly less depressing than the birth of Simon Cowell.
In these parts the central issue is whether Hanley-born Captain Smith, who steamed headlong into an icefield, despite several warnings, and crashed the Titanic, with the loss of 1,500 lives, was to blame. Or was it the iceberg?
If he hadn't written off the Titanic, Smith would have sailed on to relative anonymity instead of guaranteeing employment for a variety of ageing actors with beards, predominantly male.
He was after all, as Potteries historian Mervyn Edwards reinforced, well thought of pre-sinking. "People loved a nod and a wink with Captain Smith," said Mervyn on last night's show. "A seat at the captain's table was very important to the rich and the glitterati of the day."
But the treacherous North Atlantic intervened. "For 100 years," said the One Show's Graham Little, "Captain Smith has lain two miles under the North Atlantic." I'm fairly sure he didn't mean trapped in an air bubble.
Little wanted to know why such a famous son of the Potteries had ended up immortalised in Lichfield, concluding: "The good folk of Hanley didn't really want him looking down on them from a great height".
Titanic historian John Foster Wilson feared the Captain would never shake his Maureen-from-Driving-School reputation. "In so far as Captain Smith was commander of the Titanic," he reasoned, "it could be said he was ultimately responsible for all the defects on board." Which was a bit of a harsh way to describe Leonardo DiCaprio.
"When the ship hit the iceberg that famous night," added Little, "some said he was too busy hobnobbing with the rich and famous."
Somewhat spuriously, the show claimed people's view of Smith had begun to turn in the wake of Bernard Hill's portrayal in the Nineties blockbuster Titanic, 'Yosser Hughes in a cap' as it's widely known.
"He's one of those greats of Stoke-on-Trent," said Hanley businessman Keith Bott. "We want Captain Smith back."
But Lichfield, apparently, isn't for selling. "I open up an invitation to the people of Hanley," soothed Lichfield councillor Mike Wilcox, "come and visit our historic city and I will introduce them to Captain Smith."
Don't miss The Way We Were Titanic anniversary special – only in Saturday's Sentinel.
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