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Wednesday, 15 April, 1998, 18:38 GMT 19:38 UK
Titanic makers say sorry
Titanic: praised for its attention to detail but caused outrage in Dalbeattie
The makers of the Hollywood blockbuster Titanic have apologised to a Scottish town for tarnishing the reputation of one of its heroes.

The vice-president of 20th Century Fox Scott Neeson went to the small town of Dalbeattie, near Dumfries, to deliver a personal apology to the 80-year-old nephew of William Murdoch, first officer of the Titanic.

William Murdoch
William Murdoch: regarded as a hero in Dalbeattie
The 11 Oscar-winning film showed Mr Murdoch as a corrupt coward and a murderer who shot passengers and then took his own life.

But in his hometown, Mr Murdoch, who was an officer, is remembered for saving lives.

He is described by historians as having done his utmost to save passengers, guiding them to boats and throwing deckchairs overboard for those in the sea to cling to as the liner sank after hitting an iceberg on the night of April 14, 1912.

No victory for Dalbeattie
Mr Neeson insisted the movie "was never intended to portray him as a coward" and said any implication otherwise was "inadvertent."

"I believe he was portrayed as a hero in the film," said the Scots-born executive. "In the film and in real life, he is saving an enormous number of lives. He was responsible for getting more people on lifeboats."

William Murdoch
William Murdoch: defended his uncle's reputation
Mr Murdoch's nephew Scott said he was "reasonably happy" with the apology but could not forget the damage done to the reputation of his uncle.

He said: "In three or four years people will have forgotten about this ceremony but the film and video will still portray my uncle as a murderer when he was a hero and helped save many passengers"

"I now want them to put it right in the video which will be released but they are not going to do it."

Lyndsay Moffat: apology too late
Mr Neeson also presented a 5,000 donation to Dalbeattie High School to boost the school's William Murdoch Memorial Prize.

But his public apology left his audience unimpressed.

"I'm very pleased that they did apologise to us," said last year's winner of the Murdoch Memorial prize Lyndsay Moffat.

"I was quite surprised that Holllywood listened to a small town like Dalbeattie, but I still feel it's too little too late."

See also:

18 Dec 97 | World
Titanic cost of making movies
24 Mar 98 | Oscars
Titanic triumphs
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