HELENSBURGH-born actress Morven Christie appeared in Alan Bleasdale's The Sinking of the Laconia, a wartime drama screened on BBC TV on Thursday and Friday January 6 and 7.
October 2004 was when writer Alan Bleasdale first heard about the fate of the RMS Laconia during World War Two and now his dream of telling the story of the merchant vessel has become a reality in a two-part dramatisation on BBC2.
The Sinking of the Laconia relives the events of September 12 1942, when the RMS Laconia was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat. On board was a mix of civilians, allied soldiers and Italian prisoners of war.
The U-boat commander Werner Hartenstein, played by Ken Duken, ordered a rescue operation and, despite coming under attack from an American B-24 bomber, managed to save 400 people.
The Laconia was carrying 2725 passengers: 463 officers and crew, 286 British military personnel, 103 Polish Guards, 80 civilians – mainly women and children – and 1793 Italian prisoners of war. Of these, 1621 died and 1104 survived.
“I became fascinated by the central character of Hartenstein,” said Alan Bleasdale. “We all grow up with classic clichés about the Germans and about the Nazis and clichés are often clichés because they happen to be true. But in this case what I saw was the most remarkable and wonderful act of generosity.”
Morven (left), who played the part of Laura, is seen with Franka Potente. Photo by courtesy of the BBC Press Office.