Maria Doyle Kennedy on her “fantastic” Titanic character, Muriel Batley

Maria Doyle Kennedy, who you may recall starred in Downton Abbey as wicked Vera Bates – and who’s formerly starred in hit film, The Commitments – has been talking to What’s On TV about her role in Titanic as feisty Muriel Batley.

Of her role, Maria said, “When I read the script I thought Muriel was the most fantastic character.

“Plus, I liked the idea of being part of something so huge and epic, which I hadn’t done before. I thought it would be really enjoyable – and it was.”

When asked why Muriel seems to be rather bitter and angry, Maria said, “I think Muriel and her husband John (Toby Jones) came together through a great love and a mutual admiration…

“But they have a source of grief in their marriage in that they have not been lucky enough to have children.

“That’s particularly difficult for Muriel because, as a second-class citizen, she doesn’t have a job either, so she’s become a bitter person out of frustration of not having anything going on in her life.”

As we saw in the first episode of Titanic, Muriel and John were arguing when the ship hit the iceberg, and of the chances of them making up before it’s too late, Maria said, “They are undoubtedly having a tough time in their marriage.

“But in the face of this unbelievable tragedy, when they could well lose their lives, they’re at last reminded of how much they love each other.”

And finally, when asked how her role on Titanic compared to her part in Downton Abbey, Maria joked, “It was much wetter!”

She added, “I was only in Downton briefly; in this we were all making this new thing together and it was very much everybody’s story.

“Titanic was a completely different experience.”

Titanic continues on Sunday at 9pm on ITV1.

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Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.