Here are several videos featuring Linus which include trailers, cast interviews, and behind the scenes glimpses into this miniseries. An overview of Linus’ character, "Hugh, Earl of Manton," with background from Linus, is provided below, plus the synopses of episodes 1 and 2.
Linus Roache plays Hugh, Earl of Manton
(Source: ITV press)
Head of the Manton family, with the confidence and charm born of several centuries of aristocratic breeding. But his past contains an unexpected secret.
Linus Roache recalls: “I was fascinated by the Titanic as a kid. I read Raise The Titanic! By Clive Cussler, growing up at a time when we didn’t know where it was and the whole mystery of what was trapped down there. I had ideas of Rolls Royces that were carried across the Atlantic being at the bottom of the sea in perfect condition and all that kind of thing. And longing for it to be found.
“It’s always been the big story of human hubris, the pride and arrogance of it, that this ship will never sink. But also it’s about the vulnerability of human beings. It’s both a commemoration and celebration of human spirit. The best and worst of humankind.
“And the big question we all ask ourselves is, ‘What would I have done?’ I think that’s part of the fascination. Innocent human beings suddenly in the dreadful situation of who is going to survive?
“It’s an impossible question to answer. You can hope you’d do the right thing and behave well. But until any one of us is in that situation we’d never know what we’re made of.”
Hugh is on board the Titanic with his wife Louisa, Countess of Manton, and their rebellious daughter Georgiana.
“Most of Lord Manton’s money is inherited but he does have some business in New York. It was, among other things, a romantically inspired trip but they end up taking their daughter as well to get her away from trouble and keep an eye on her.
“Georgiana is quite a character and Lord Manton has a secret admiration for that. She’s a girl after his own heart. Although he’d be terrified of having a daughter who is a suffragette, he quite admires that kind of spirit.
“He has a complex relationship with his wife. Things will be revealed during the journey. There is a secret to this man. He’s not quite as straightforward as you might think.
“Which is true of a lot of the characters. You think one thing and then you find out there’s an underbelly. There is a love between them and a lot of respect. But there’s a secret underneath it all that this tragedy brings out.”
Linus, whose previous credits include Priest, Law & Order and Batman Begins, plays one of the “top toffs” on board.
“It’s another string to my bow. I haven’t played much aristocracy. So it’s a nice challenge. He’s not just a stuck-up toff. Julian Fellowes has given him a lot of humanity, wit and humour. It’s nuanced.”
What was his initial reaction when he was first approached about the project?
“I thought it was a brilliant idea. To actually make this a television event, to air it on the
centenary of the sinking and tell a story encapsulating that it was a microcosm of the world on the ship at that time. And to go into the personal lives of a lot of the characters, which is Julian Fellowes’ talent. That’s what makes it special. It’s so well written.”
Linus was visited during filming in Budapest by his father William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow in Coronation Street and is the world’s longest serving soap actor. “He loved the set. It is amazing. Everyone who has seen it has been impressed.
“There’s just something about this Titanic set. It really does recreate the atmosphere of what it must have been like to be on board. Sometimes you just find yourself thinking about it and the what ifs?”
Father and son had recently been reunited on screen again when Linus returned to the Manchester cobbles to play a guest role as his father’s long-lost screen son Lawrence.
“I love the versatility of acting. In my career so far I’ve managed to cross a lot of genres and play many different roles. That’s what I got into the business for. I like exploring and stretching myself in as many different directions as I can.”
Linus had a previous brush with Titanic when he played kidnapped British journalist John McCarthy in the 2004 movie Blind Flight.
“For some reason we were shooting in the Belfast dockyard where they built the Titanic. We were actually doubling it for a cell in Lebanon. So that’s kind of strange.
“I remember being there and thinking, ‘Wow, this is spooky.’ Just feeling the vibe of the place. It’s that whole mystery of Titanic. I was sitting where its hull would have been, thinking, ‘My God, it was built here with so much promise.’”
His own sailing experience is limited. “The only cruise I went on was as a kid. It was
somewhere off the south of Spain. The stabiliser on the ship had gone, it was tilting and everyone was sick. So I’ve not got strong sea legs myself and this isn’t going to inspire me.”
Whatever the varying fates of those on board Titanic in the drama, it’s no secret that they all end up either in lifeboats or in the water after the ship hits the iceberg.
Filming of those scenes took place on a separate stage next to the Titanic set, where the largest purpose built indoor water tank in Europe was built especially for this production. Although Titanic had the legal number of lifeboats on board, there were not enough for all the passengers. Something Hugh quickly realises.
“He works it out. It’s almost like he’s got a military background. That this man - in a time of crisis - suddenly clicks into gear and the best of him comes out.”
Does Linus think people today would act any differently to those on board the sinking
“There are still stories of courage today. Look at United Airlines Flight 93. Look at what
those individuals did on the plane to try and save it. There are so many stories where human beings are put in extreme circumstances and the best comes out.
“It’s not always the worst you see. It’s often the best.”
Linus’ television and film credits include: Batman Begins, Law & Order, Kidnapped, Seaforth, The Wings of the Dove, The Chronicles of Riddick, The Miraculous Year, The Forgotten.
(Source: ITV Press)
Prologue. We briefly encounter a number of our characters, from all walks of life, as they ready themselves for their fateful voyage on the Titanic.
London, April 1912. Hugh, Earl of Manton uses his government connections to free his daughter Georgiana, who has been arrested in a suffragette demonstration. To keep her out of trouble, he also uses his influence with Bruce Ismay, chairman of the White Star Line, to obtain a passage for Georgiana on the maiden voyage of the new liner Titanic, accompanying Hugh and his wife Louisa to New York.
On the train to Southampton the Mantons encounter Irish lawyer John Batley, who works for Hugh’s law firm, and his wife Muriel. They will be travelling in Second Class. Hugh invites them to tea in First Class, although it’s clear that Anglo-Irish aristocrat Louisa and Muriel have taken an instant dislike to each other.
Southampton, Wednesday 10th April 1912. Amongst those boarding are young Italian crew members Paolo and Mario Sandrini and Irishman Jim Maloney, intent on smuggling his wife Mary and their children into a single steerage cabin to avoid them being split up. That evening the Mantons are served at dinner by Paolo, and joined at their table by Captain Smith and other First Class passengers, including the American multi-millionaire John Jacob Astor and his pregnant young wife, Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff Gordon, film star Dorothy Gibson and the nouveau riche Grace Rushton and her husband.
Meanwhile their servants, Barnes and Watson, are dining with the other First Class servants in their own dining room, served by the young cabin steward Annie Desmond. There is some friction between the English and American staff, and during some after-dinner horseplay started by Barnes, Watson’s book, a present from her father, is accidentally torn, much to her distress.
Georgiana is seated at dinner next to the wealthy young American Harry Widener. Later they dance to the popular Autumn Waltz, and despite their differences a mutual attraction is apparent. Jack Thayer, another young American, cuts in and later dances with Dorothy Gibson. When he is ignominiously summoned to bed by his mother, the charming Second Officer Lightoller saves Ms Gibson from any embarrassment by dancing with her himself. Paolo shares an illicit drink with his brother Mario, and narrowly avoids an altercation with the bullying Chief Stoker Billy Blake.
Sunday 14th April 1912. The Manton’s tea party is not a great success. Muriel asks a pointed question about Hugh’s position on the Irish Home Rule Bill, and the hostility between her and Louisa, coming as they do from opposite ends of the Irish social and political spectrum, could be cut with a knife. However the relationship between Harry and Georgiana is developing as they stroll together on the ship’s deck. Later that night the ship’s designer, Thomas Andrews, is playing cards when he feels a sudden impact. Together with Captain Smith he hurries to investigate. To their horror, a brush with an iceberg has torn a series of gashes in the side of the Titanic that stretch as far as the boiler rooms.
Sometime later, Hugh and Louisa are awoken by the absence of engine noise. Hugh encounters Lightoller, who advises him to get his family into their lifejackets and up on deck. As they make their way past a crowd of passengers fighting to extract their jewels from the Purser’s office, a chance remark of Louisa’s triggers a violent verbal assault from Muriel, infuriated by her patrician arrogance, in the midst of which Muriel implies that she knows a guilty secret about Hugh.
The steerage passengers are held below, including Jim and Mary Maloney and their children. On deck the loading of the lifeboats is not going smoothly. Lightoller rigorously enforces the rule of women and children only, and the boats are lowered less than full because of his concerns about their ability to support a full load without splitting whilst being winched down. Paolo and Annie, helping with the evacuation, try in vain to stop the Duff Gordons ordering their boat away with hardly anyone aboard. Grace Rushton refuses to enter a boat at all without her pet dog Suki. Young American mother Bessie Allison has lost her strangely possessive Nanny Alice and baby son Trevor.
The band leader recognises Georgiana from the dance, and offers to play her favourite tune, the Autumn Waltz. Georgiana spots Nanny Alice descending in a boat with baby Trevor. Louisa refuses to get into a boat with Dorothy Gibson, who is clutching a bottle of brandy. US multi-millionaire Benjamin Guggenheim, having seen off his French mistress, retires with his servant Giglio to the First Class saloon. Hugh and his family cannot find another boat with any spare places, and Hugh upbraids Lightoller for his loading policy, which he says will condemn hundreds of passengers to death. Harry and Georgiana share a brief moment together before he has to bid goodbye to his mother, who is in a boat with the Countess of Rothes and Molly Brown and is desperately anxious for her son.
Hugh finally locates one of the last of the boats, but Louisa will not leave without him. Georgiana is determined to stay with her parents, but Harry physically lifts her into the boat. As she cries out to her mother, and Hugh pleads with Louisa to save herself for his sake, Louisa is faced with an impossible choice...
Belfast, March 1912. Workers enter the Harland and Wolff shipyard past angry Protestant Unionists, incensed by the prospect of Irish Home Rule. Inside the yard designer Thomas Andrews and shipyard chairman Lord Pirrie are concerned about slow progress on the fitting out of the new liner Titanic. They talk to electrical engineer Jim Maloney, a middle class Catholic. Maloney needs to recruit his own team with the expertise to get the job done, but they are Catholics and Lord Pirrie is under pressure to get rid of his Catholic workers. Jim despairs at the sectarian divide, and wants to get away from Ireland. Andrews offers him a deal – a steerage passage on Titanic with his family if he gets the wiring done on time. In a meeting with Pirrie and White Star Line chairman Bruce Ismay Andrews expresses his concern that corners are being cut in the construction. Ismay angrily dismisses his assertions.
Southampton, Tuesday 9th April 1912. After the sea trials, Captain Smith shuffles his crew, causing some confusion as the officers are assigned new duties. The following day, cabin steward Annie Desmond prepares for the first passengers, and encounters newly-recruited Italian waiter Paolo Sandrini. Meanwhile Jim Maloney smuggles his wife Mary and their children into a single steerage cabin to avoid them being split up, facing down steward John Hart to do so. At dinner in First Class, Paolo serves the Mantons’ table, winking at Georgiana. She’s amused, but the Chief Steward is not.
In steerage, Jim falls into conversation with the taciturn Peter Lubov, another man escaping his past. Jim introduces Lubov to Mary, but her response is uncharacteristically abrupt. Up on deck, Paolo and Annie discuss the passengers in their charge, and she describes the altercation between the servants. Her theory is that Barnes has a soft spot for Watson.
Sunday 14th April 1912. A mixed group attend the Anglican service which is held in First Class but open to all classes. Lubov attends and deliberately places himself next to Mary Maloney, who moves away. Grace Rushton is horrified by the class mix. Hugh finds it amusing. That evening Lightoller comes across Barnes trying to gain access to steerage, in pursuit of Watson who has made her way down there. Later, Lightoller comes across them together. Watson is in tears, but Barnes tells him it’s merely seasickness. Dressing for dinner in their cabin after the less than successful tea party with the Mantons, Muriel launches a verbal assault on her husband, accusing him of cringing subservience to his English master. Unable to contain her bitterness at his stalled career, which has condemned her to a life in Croydon amongst those she regards as her country’s long time oppressors, she lets him know that she’s aware his loyal service includes acting as a go-between with Hugh’s illegitimate daughter, a secret supposedly unknown to Louisa.
Jim goes looking for Mary and finds her on the deck. As always she is coping with the vagaries of life, condemned to crowded steerage despite Jim’s skills because of their background. Jim promises her that things will be different in America. On the bridge, Captain Smith wants to maintain a fast pace to arrive in New York early on Titanic’s maiden voyage, but Ismay is against taking any risks. However, after Ismay leaves the bridge Smith instructs his officer of the watch, Murdoch, to keep up the pace despite warnings of icebergs.
Smith takes a tour, greeting the card-playing Andrews and Dorothy Gibson and finally ending up on deck with a glum John Batley, recovering from the altercation with his wife. Smith wisely leaves him to it, but no sooner has he gone than Batley finds an iceberg towering over him as it scrapes down the side of the ship. Below decks, Smith and Andrews go on their voyage of discovery and we see the full impact of the collision. The extent of the gashes is so long that it will outweigh the buoyancy afforded by Titanic’s compartmentalised design. The supposedly unsinkable ship has only hours to live.
Whilst the passengers remain oblivious to the danger for the moment, Lightoller is roused and tries to get orders from Smith and his Chief Officer Wilde, but they are both dazed by the enormity of what has happened. Lightoller takes matters into his own hands, organising the evacuation but restricting the numbers in each boat and allowing only women and children to board. Annie tries to help Muriel and John Batley with their lifejackets, although Muriel is more concerned with recovering her jewels. Outside the Purser’s office we experience again Muriel’s attack on Louisa and Hugh, but this time from the point of view of her horrified husband before he drags her away.
Jim and Mary and their children are being held below decks with their fellow steerage passengers, until Lubov creates a diversion that allows Mary and the children to escape. Lightoller helps a distraught Dorothy Gibson persuade her mother to don a lifejacket. He presses an unwilling Dorothy to take a bottle of brandy with her in case it’s needed for medicinal purposes.
Meanwhile, Annie and Paolo are trying to bring some order to the chaos, which is only increased when Steward Hart leads a party of steerage passengers up to the deck. Muriel is almost trampled underfoot. Andrews has joined Guggenheim and his valet in the saloon. Despite Lightoller’s urging, they are not planning to go anywhere. John and Muriel struggle unsuccessfully to find a boat, until Muriel slumps down in exhaustion and despair. And then, at their darkest hour, they find a way back to each other.
Muriel expresses her regret that she has allowed her bitterness to destroy their relationship. John immediately forgives her – she remains the best thing that ever happened in his life. Muriel says that if they can do nothing else they can at least die together, but just then John spies one last boat preparing to launch, and drags Muriel towards it. As they get there to find a group that includes Hugh Manton, Harry Widener and Barnes there is the roaring sound of an approaching wall of water...
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