British documentary-maker with Portsmouth links Ross Kemp turned down trip to see Titanic on OceanGate submersible for television show

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British documentary-maker Ross Kemp turned down a trip to see the Titanic on an OceanGate submersible for a television show.

The former EastEnders star, 58, had been keen to take part in the mission last year but it was deemed to be unsafe. An expert production company carried out checks and decided it would be too risky to let anybody board the Titan submersible to view the shipwreck on the seafloor of the North Atlantic, off the coast of Canada.

Kemp’s agent, InterTalent chairman Professor Jonathan Shalit, said they pulled out of using the OceanGate craft because it was deemed to be unsafe ‘on every level’.

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Ross Kemp
Photo: : PA Photo/Sky HISTORYRoss Kemp
Photo: : PA Photo/Sky HISTORY
Ross Kemp Photo: : PA Photo/Sky HISTORY

Prof Shalit said: ‘The production company, who are well known and renowned, looked into the sub and decided it was unsafe on every level and weren’t prepared to use it. We were told ‘it is unsafe, we are not going’ – that was a year ago.

‘It is deeply sad for the families who have suffered such a terrible loss. I am relieved that Ross did not participate but I am obviously reassured by the professionalism of those companies we were working with that they didn’t suggest that he go on the submarine.

‘The lesson to be learnt is do your checks thoroughly. By good fortune for us the checks had been done thoroughly.’

The US Coast Guard offered its ‘deepest condolences’ to the families of the five men after the tail cone of the submersible was found around 1,600ft from the bow of the Titanic wreckage off the coast of Newfoundland.

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British billionaire Hamish Harding, UK-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, his 19-year-old son Suleman Dawood, the vessel’s pilot Stockton Rush and French national Paul-Henri Nargeolet were on board.

At a press conference in Boston, Rear Admiral John Mauger said further debris was ‘consistent with a catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber’.

Kemp had been considering making a documentary to mark the 110th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic on its maiden voyage from Southampton in 1912.

Veteran explorer Josh Gates, who hosts Expedition Unknown on Discovery+, also revealed he turned down the chance to film on the doomed Titan submersible. He wrote: ‘Ultimately, I walked away from a huge opportunity to film Titanic due to my safety concerns with the OceanGate platform. There’s more to the history and design of Titan that has not been made public — much of it concerning.’

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Kemp recently spoke to The News at the Mary Rose Museum to help launch Dive The Mary Rose 4D, a new immersive attraction featuring narration from Kemp. The ex-Eastenders star spoke about his connections to the city. Tracing his maternal lineage, the Buck family, the actor and presenter described how generations of his ancestors called the city home and even owned a popular pub in Landport.

He said: ‘My great great grandfather came to the city - I think in Victorian times - and he ran a barge company that supplied sand to all the building works which were going on at the time. He sold that, then he bought a pub called the Ship and Castle, which is still going strong near the ferry port. Obviously my family don’t own it anymore, but one of his many sons was my great grandfather.