Titanic captain's role for Aussie man whose grandfather grew up beside shipyard
AN Australian man who grew up listening to stories of the Titanic from his Belfast grandfather has found a new 'job' playing the ship's captain thanks to his striking resemblance to the naval officer.
Michael Booth describes himself as a "Titanic historian" who wants to keep the true story of the ill-fated Belfast ocean liner alive.
His grandfather was born in Belmont, overlooking the Harland and Wolff shipyard where the liner was built, and as a young boy was invited to view the Titanic before it was fitted out.
This year, the bearded New South Wales man was asked to play Captain Edward John Smith in a Titanic show which was staged in Sydney Harbour and attended by more than 1,000 'passengers'.
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The role of captain then took him to The Titanic Exhibition Sydney, which ran for 12 months, where visitors were able to get their picture taken with him on the famous Grand Staircase.
The Titanic has been a lifelong obsession for Mr Booth who followed in his grandfather's footsteps by collecting artefacts, and later went on to build numerous models relating to the Titanic.
He said: "As time went by, my interest took on a new meaning... It was a different story to what people saw in the movie. There was no Jack and Rose, but a story of hardship and difficult times, for the workers building the ship in Belfast."
He began telling the story of the Titanic in a series of public speaking events and in April 2012 paid his first trip to Belfast for the 100th anniversary of the date the ship went down after striking an iceberg.
Five years later, he recreated the last dinner aboard the Titanic when more than 100 guests, dressed in period costume, were treated to a seven-course meal, as served on that fateful night, with a quartet playing 'Nearer My God to Thee'.
"Even being in Australia it was mind-blowing to see the interest still alive in the history of Titanic," he said.
Mr Booth has recently been back to Belfast, where he toured the Titanic attractions, and is hoping to return again next April for the anniversary.