According to The Daily Telegraph, Julian Fellowes has been tapped to write a screenplay about the Titanic disaster to be aired by ITV to mark the centenary of the ship's sinking. Fellowes, who also penned Downton Abbey, Gosford Park and The Young Victoria, explained that he wants to approach the subject in a different way from James Cameron's 1997 movie.
He also suggested that he wants to portray the British people on board the ship in a more sympathetic light.
"Far be it for me to buck a Hollywood tradition, but I think that those generalisations [about British people] are not as interesting as real life," Fellowes said. "Obviously, the special effects of the Cameron version can't be rivalled on television, but what we can offer, and what we are hoping to offer, is a much more human version of the story."
He added: "Ours is more a tale of the people on board told from the perspective of the different classes and the crew. We are using real characters and fictional characters, but we develop the real as much as the fictional."
Perhaps Fellowes's remarks were prompted by David Warner, who played the villainous manservant in the 1997 Titanic film, who complained that English actors were typecast as the baddies. "There wasn't a single good character in Titanic who was English, and this is typical," said the actor.
"Americans who have travelled and who have English friends know we are not necessarily all baddies, but I think that seeing us being so incessantly nasty on screen has a drip, drip, drip effect on the rest of them."
He added that, with one or two exceptions, heroic English figures were almost always played by non-English actors. "Even Hornblower was played by Gregory Peck. Daniel Craig is a rare English Bond – normally one can expect an Irishman, a Scotsman or even an Australian."
Warner's comments echoed those of Dame Helen Mirren. She felt the need to tell an audience in Los Angeles in April: "We're not the snooty, stuck-up, malevolent, malignant creatures as we're so often portrayed."
Dame Helen insisted: "We're actually kind of cool and hip."
The latest Titanic adaptation will feature actors Linus Roache and Geraldine Somerville heading a cast that also includes Celia Imrie, Toby Jones and Perdita Weeks. It begins filming in Hungary later this month, made by Bafta-winning producer Nigel Stafford Clark, whose successes have included Bleak House and Warriors.
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