BBC Radio Broadcast of Titanic survivors


Paul Lee

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Aug 11, 2003
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Dear all,
Does anyone have a recording of the BBC (?) radio show which interviewed Titanic survivors, including Lightoller? I don't really want a copy of the show, I am interested in who took part, and what the broadcast date was (roughly)

Thanks

Paul

 
May 12, 2005
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Paul,

There were various interviews with survivors over the years.

The well-known one featuring Lightoller (1930s?)was an interview with him only, I believe, not a round table setting, but others here who are experts on the officers will know for sure.

Both Rene Harris and Edith Russell were interviewed on radio a number of times. Rene appeared on NBC Radio's "Mary Margaret McBride Show" in 1942 and in another series of programs in the late 40s. She was definitely never on the radio show hosted by Walter Winchell, with whom she had a long-standing feud. She didn't always talk about Titanic in these shows, by the way, but, after the book and movie of "A Night to Remember" came out, she was naturally in demand to discuss the subject. She appeared on several TV variety shows, as well, making a special guest appearance on "The Merv Griffin Show" in 1967.

I am sure these episodes survive but one would have to address the relevant archives and commission a search. One can possibly obtain a transcript if not an audio or video recording of the broadcasts.

Edith Russell was interviewed on radio both in the US (at the time of the 1953 movie) and in London on the BBC (many times in the 1960s and early 70s).

Her friend - and sometimes adversary - Lady Lawford, the somewhat eccentric (if not downright crazy) mother of actor Peter Lawford, said this about Edith's frequent Titanic talks:

"...Every year they interview her on BBC. You'd think she was the only person on board the Titanic. Sometimes I wish she had gone under with it..."

She also appeared on BBC-TV and on other television programs in America and Germany.

A 1970 BBC interview with Edith can be found and heard online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/place-nireland/A731071

Her 1962 appearance on German TV is available on video. I forget the name of the film distributor. Maybe someone else knows. She appeared on that show with another survivor, Alfred Nourney.

Randy
 

Paul Lee

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Thanks, my friend. The reason why I asked is because it is possible that the BBC retained transcripts of unused portions of the interviews. Particularly in the case of Lightoller, this may give additional insight into what happened on the ship that night!

Best wishes

Paul

 

Inger Sheil

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G'day Paul -

Randy is spot-on that there were a number of interviews at different times - I think I can dig up the date of the more well-known Lightoller to interview to which he referred, but I've also heard of at least one other I've never got around to chasing (although that one might not have dealt with Titanic matters, and my knowledge of it relies on the memory of someone who heard it at the time of the broadcast).

Joseph Boxhall was interviewed in 1962 for the BBC - I can dig up the specific date if it would be of any use to you.
 

Paul Lee

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Oh well, never mind. According to the BBC Written Archives dept. they don't have anything of note, Titanic-wise.

Paul

 
G

Graham Pickles

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> Hi Paul

Just a thaught but have you tried to contact the BBC Press office? They hold thousands of files there and usually are very helpfull.
 

Paul Lee

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Thanks, I may give them a try!

I can't help but feel that, given Lightoller's evasive answers at the inquiries, he may have said something later on in life (his recently auctioned memoirs notwithstanding)

Best wishes

Paul

 
Mar 15, 2001
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It sure would be nice to see the segment of Rene Harris on the Merv Griffin Show. I wonder why this has never appeared on television recently with all the interest in the Titanic? In my opinion she was one of the most interesting people on the Titanic.
 

Paul Lee

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Hi Darren
Possibly it was destroyed (erased or burnt) as used to happen with old TV shows. Perhaps we could ask the Museum of Television and Radio in New York and Los Angeles if they know if it exists and if not, would they mind seeing if it exists in private hands? The British Film Institute has had a search going on for years - have a look at
http://www.btinternet.com/~dr_paul_lee/TVhunt.htm
for instance

Best wishes

Paul
 
May 12, 2005
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Hi Darren and Paul:

It sure would be great to see Renee Harris on the Merv Griffin Show. I am looking into Harris' career and have traced a number of her memorabilia donations and bequests to various archives and when I get a chance I will also try and hunt down some of her radio and TV appearances.

Paul, your searches with the BFI have apparently yielded some of the same great finds (and disappointments) that I have encountered. So many of the early newsreels and silent films (which have been a focus of my study of Lady Duff Gordon) have been lost and what does survive in public repositories has been negligibly catalogued, if at all.

The UCLA film and TV archive has some great things as does the Museum of Modern Art. But so much has been lost. One big loss is that almost all of the BBC's pre-1924 broadcasts have not been kept. Not even transcripts or other paper files exist for many of those shows.

I came very close to locating Duff Gordon's 1923-24 radio interviews and appearances (she was part of the old "Women's Hour" program, discoursing on fashion) but the librarians only found a short file on her and no transcript. One May 1923 broadcast of hers included an interview about Titanic.

Randy
 

Paul Lee

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Hi Randy,
Ia gree, it is a crying shame that more of this archive material wasn't kept.

If you could give me the date of any suspected newsreel interviews, footage etc., I can ask the BFI if they hold copies? I presume you have done this already though!

Best wishes

Paul

 

Dave Gittins

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Paul, do you have the collection issued as "That Fateful Night" by Bantam Doubleday Dell? It's on tape and CD.

It includes material from many survivors and seems to be mostly from BBC sources. I got mine from Barnes & Noble some months ago.

In my opinion, most of this later material has only curiosity value. One only has to read the dodgy stuff produced by Lightoller, Rostron and Bisset in their books to see that time did not improve their accuracy.
 
Feb 14, 2011
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Id be interested in finding an uncut copy of the interview with Officer Boxhall.
Everyone always cites Lightoller's spoken work account, but Boxhall's is usually ignored...


regards

Tarn
 

Inger Sheil

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Boxhall's family have a full copy of the interview, Tarn. I've listened to it a few times - absolutely fascinating material, and deeply poignant to hear it in Boxhall's own voice.

Paul, I haven't had a chance yet to find my notes on the interview, but I'll have a look for them.
 

Inger Sheil

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I believe that's correct, Paul - I'll have to go and look up the date for that as well.

It's interesting that, after many years of public (and often private) silence on the sinking, Boxhall became involved with promotional efforts for ANTR. I've seen a few newspaper articles with interviews and publicity photos of him around the time of the movie release - the degree of his involvement in promoting the film suprised his family. There's a possibility that there may be even more articles and interviews he did at the time that haven't yet come to light again.

He was also involved with the Cape Horners society, and occasionally appeared in media connected with that organisation.
 

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