Susan Morrison
Susan Morrison

Susan Morrison: 'Raise The Titanic!'

Susan Morrison talk about her new show based on her greatest obsession
Feature by Bernard O'Leary.
Published 13 April 2012

Livewire comedian Susan Morrison is at the heart of the Scottish comedy scene and you've not really experienced comedy until you've seen her MCing at The Stand. But she's got a secret life, an obsession which she's about to make public.

'I have a passing interest in the Titanic,' she says coyly, 'to the point where my living room is nicknamed the Titanic Lounge. It's filled with memorabilia and documents and White Star stuff and now my family don't talk to me any more.'

Morrison is a historian as well as a comic, but she's had a love affair with ocean liners since seeing the launch of the QE2, which was built by her dad ('yeah, he did all of it'). This Sunday, she will be attempting to outdo James Cameron by presenting a full-length show on the Titanic, on the anniversary of the disaster. After all these years, why has the Titanic retained its romantic significance for so many people?

'Well, it's gotten worse since that bloody film came out. But it is a romantic tale: the maiden voyage, the golden age of travel, the surviving passenger logs. She hit the iceberg at 11 and sank at 2, so you've got the length of a feature film in between. You do wonder, "what would I have done?"'

Although Morrison denies knowing everything about the Titanic, she probably knows more than anybody who wasn't already on the ship. She starts by putting some myths to rest: 'she wasn't the biggest ship at sea, her sister The Olympic was already at sea. And nobody said that she was unsinkable. They said she was practically unsinkable. Not that you'd care about that if you were standing on the deck.'

She can also rattle off anecdotes that aren't commonly known: the exact movements of the Captain; how survivors coped after getting back to dry land; the radio officer who was so intent on broadcasting the names of survivors that he didn't take a break until Marconi himself told him to take a break. 'There was one staff member,' says Morrison, 'who got aboard a lifeboat and at the exact moment the ship sank, he asked what time it was because White Star would stop paying him from the moment it went under the waves.'

The show should be informative and funny. Also, unlike James Cameron's effort, it hasn't been retrofitted into 3D. 'I'm actually going to throw water on the audience,' she says, 'so mine is going to be in 4D.'