BBC History and Current Affairs have co-commissioned OceanGate (w/t), a 1×60’ for BBC Two and iPlayer. The special explores the mysteries behind the Titan submersible tragedy that captured the world’s attention when it took the lives of five people in the North Atlantic in 2023.

The film is is a UK-Canada treaty co-production of Renegade Stories in the UK and Galafilm in Quebec, Canada, with co-produced funding from Discovery Channel USA, CBC in Canada, and ZDF in Germany.

The film will ask what exactly went wrong with the submersible that caused it to implode? And why did the inventor of Titan, Stockton Rush, as widely reported, repeatedly dismiss strident safety warnings from submersible experts and even those from his own engineers?

Stockton died in the implosion that destroyed Titan; did his previous successful dives to Titanic cause him, like Icarus in Greek mythology, to become overconfident and fly too close to the sun?

The filmmakers have unparalleled access to follow the US Coastguard Marine Board investigation into the disaster – their return to the wreckage to recover more evidence, their scientific tests on that wreckage and the testimony of witnesses who will be called to give evidence at an upcoming two-week hearing. Despite all the speculation, no-one at all knows exactly what went wrong with Titan on that fateful day. The Coastguard investigators are examining various theories about why the submersible failed.

The film will also delve into the motives of Stockton Rush, interviewing those who knew him well and have unique insights into his ability to inspire people, his engineering skills, and his background. And it will include never-before seen footage of Titan’s final successful dive to Titanic and Stockton Rush’s last interview recorded for mainstream TV.

OceanGate (w/t), a 1×60’ for BBC Two and iPlayer, is co-produced by Discovery Channel USA, CBC in Canada, and ZDF in Germany. It is a UK-Canada treaty co-production of Renegade Stories in the UK and Galafilm in Quebec, Canada. It was commissioned by Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual and Joanna Carr, Head of Current Affairs. The Executive Producer is Alan Hayling and the Commissioning Editors are Tom Coveney, Head of Commissioning, Science and Sarah Waldron, Executive Producer.

Read more about science and history commissioning at the BBC in the new Summer edition of Televisual, out next week.

Pippa Considine

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