'Downtown Abbey' at sea? There's no shortage of drama in the tale of the Titanic and now Julian Fellowes, the Oscar-winning screenwriter behind 'Downton Abbey,' has been tapped to create a major television drama to commemorate the famous sinking in 1912, to be screened over the coming weeks.
The $17 million four-part series will be broadcast over four successive Sundays in the UK beginning this weekend.
It's obviously not the first time the Titanic has been brought to our screens, there have been at least five major feature films, the most famous being director James Cameron’s 1997 epic that went on to become the most successful box-office movie ever.
Irish involvement in the new feature includes Maria Doyle Kennedy and Ruth Bradley. An Irish lawyer traveling second class with his embittered wife will also appear, as will a Catholic engineer from Belfast fleeing sectarianism.
Fellowes told the Irish Times that previous tellings of the Titanic focused on the upper classes on the top deck and the lower classes (usually the Irish) below deck, but to date none have focused on the middle classes who include the crew.
'Titanic' was filmed in Hungary and the relatively low production cost is thanks to modern technology.
"You don’t see all the CGI stuff but you have more an emotional connection with a number of characters," Fellowes said.
Another film, 'Titanic: Blood and Steel,' which tells the tragic story and was filmed mainly in Ireland will be released later this year. James Cameron is also preparing a 3D reworking of his most famous film.
Meanwhile the eagerly anticipated Titanic Centre in Belfast, scheduled to open to the public on March 31, will commemorate the tragic ships centenary on April 14.