Page last updated at 01:22 GMT, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 02:22 UK

Attempts to ban 1947 Titanic play

The Titanic
The Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg, killing 1,522 people

Documents from the BBC archive show how shipping firms and the government tried to block a 1947 radio play about the sinking of the Titanic.

The liner's builders and shipping line were concerned it would damage the image of the industry as it tried to recover after the Second World War.

Recordings of the ship's survivors and other archive material have been made public on the BBC website.

This release of the material is to mark the anniversary of the sinking in 1912.

The ship sank on 15 April after it hit an iceberg, killing 1,522 people on board.

The play was part of a Light Programme series called Sensation, recreating headline stories.

The shipping line, Cunard White Star, and the shipbuilders, Harland & Wolff, put pressure on the BBC to drop, or at least postpone, the broadcast, which was due to coincide with the launch of a new liner at the Belfast yard.

Their moves also had backing from the government.

Material now published includes a protest telegram from the Northern Ireland prime minister and a memo from a BBC executive, describing how a permanent secretary buttonholed him at his club.

The programme was postponed for one week and was eventually heard by 8m listeners.

It no longer exists, but there are recordings of survivors, including a ship's officer, interviewed in 1936.

The release of the archive material is part of a BBC initiative to open its archives to licence-payers.


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