The Titanic Letters

Listen to a sample

What to expect

42 letters written by Titanic passengers and crew, plus two documentaries relating survivors’ stories and bringing the tragedy to life through the voices of the wireless operators

The largest, most luxurious liner in the world, the RMS Titanic captured the public’s imagination. But four days into her maiden voyage, on 14 April 1912, she hit an iceberg and sank, taking the lives of over 1500 people.

This commemorative anthology opens with the emotional letters from the individuals who were there that fateful night – those who lived, and those who died. They talk of life on board the ship, describing its size, opulence and vaunted ‘unsinkabiity’; write about the friends they’ve made; make disparaging remarks about fellow travellers; and send fond messages of love, signed with a dozen kisses.

Here, too, are heartrending eyewitness accounts of the shipwreck and its aftermath, written from the safety of the rescue ship Carpathia. Among them are letters from a woman who lost her mind on the Titanic, a newlywed who left the ship a widow, a message in a bottle from a despairing 19-year-old – and a missive accusing an unknown man of having dressed as a woman to get on a lifeboat. Introduced by Ciaran Hinds, who also reveals the writers’ fate, each letter is read by a different celebrity, including Amanda Burton, Patrick Kielty, Eamonn Holmes, Christine Bleakley and Gloria Hunniford.

Also included are two fascinating documentaries. Omnibus: Titanic – The Unsinkable Legend, asks why the story of the doomed ship still fascinates us today. Including an interview with Titanic survivor Eva Hart, who was just seven years old when the ship went down, it looks at the influence the iconic ship has had on media and culture in the 100 years since its sinking.

And in Discovery: Titanic – In Her Own Words, Sean Coughlan narrates the Marconi wireless operators’ version of the Titanic disaster. Converting their Morse code into speech synthesis, this enthralling programme gives us a remarkable ‘black box recording’ of the event, as the young operators in the vicinity frantically communicated with one another across the freezing expanses of the North Atlantic in an effort to mount a rescue mission.

Poignant, absorbing and deeply affecting, this unique radio collection reveals the human stories behind the terrible maritime tragedy.

Production credits

Titanic Letters
Presented by Ciaran Hinds
Read by Amanda Burton, Patrick Kielty, Eamonn Holmes, Brian Kennedy, Dame Mary Peters, James Ellis, Christine Bleakley, John Linehan, Colin Murphy, Martin Lynch, Donna Traynor, Eddie Irvine, Gloria Hunniford, Dr Stephen Myers, Ian McElhenny, Phil Coulter, Bronagh Gallagher, Barry Douglas, Ciaran McMenamin, Frances Tomelty, Paul Rankin, Dana, Noel Thompson, Tim Wheeler, Maggie Cronin, Dan Gordon, Janet Gray, Susan Lynch, Colin Bateman, Wendy Austin, Marie Jones, Baroness May Blood, Conleth Hill, Charles Lawson, Stella McCusker, William Crawley, Olivia Nash, Brian Keenan, Sarah Travers, Glenn Patterson, Leila Webster, Ciaran Hinds

First broadcast BBC Radio Foyle & BBC Radio Ulster, 9-22 April 2012

Omnibus: Titanic – The Unsinkable Legend
With Eva Hart, Ronnie Brock, Bob Pryor, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Bill McQuitty
First broadcast BBC World Service, 13 January 1998

Discovery: Titanic – In Her Own Words
Presented by Sean Coughlan
Conceived and created by Susanne Weber
Produced by Alex Mansfield
First broadcast BBC World Service, 9 April 2012

©2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

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