St Dogmaels builder’s role in The Terror

Article by Mike Lewis for the Western Telegraph, 14th March 2021

A ST DOGMAELS builder with a passion for historic deep sea diving has enjoyed a unique insiders’ view of Ridley Scott’s acclaimed new horror anthology TV series The Terror.

Currently showing on BBC-2, the brooding and atmospheric saga – a fictional re-imagining of the fate that befell Sir John Franklin’s doomed Arctic expedition of the 1840s – has been likened to 1979’s seminal film The Alien which established director Scott’s legendary reputation.

The Terror charts the ordeal of the Erebus and Terror – two Royal Navy ships lost with all hands in their quest for the North West Passage: a tragic and mysterious tale which gripped the whole of Britain.

And Ty Burton, a 57-year-old dad-of-three and long-standing member of the Historic Diving Society, was called on to provide his expertise as an advisor during scenes showing diver Henry Collins delving into frigid Arctic waters to free ice fouling a ship’s rudder.

Ty, a former Cardigan RFC coach who once completed a charity ascent of Ben Nevis clad in an historic diving suit, recalled: “I spent three days at Stern Studios in Budapest, Hungary, in a massive building the side of an aircraft hangar.

“It contained a huge water tank with a life-sized replica of one of the ships – the professionalism in getting those scenes to look so authentic was about as unbelievable as the budget!

“The standard diving gear of those times weighed around 90 kgs – the brass and copper helmet alone was 25 kgs.

“Our role was to dress and undress the diver and lower him over the side into water six or seven feet deep.

“While we cannot be 100 per cent certain such a diving suit was used on the Franklin expedition, enclosed helmets came into use in 1830 so it certainly fits the time frame.”

And Ty received a pleasant surprise when he discovered that ‘Diver Collins’ was being played by Welsh actor Trystan Gravelle.

“There I was in a studio in Hungary, standing on the deck of a replica of either the Erebus or the Terror, talking Welsh to a chap from Trimsaran!” he laughed.

“When the chief make-up artist heard me speak she asked whether I was from west Wales and if I knew Aberporth?

“When I replied that I did she asked me to deliver a letter to her best friend who lived in the village! Talk about a small world…”

Pembrokeshire has a significant link with the Franklin expedition as the Erebus was built at the Royal Dockyard in Pembroke Dock.

This interview was originally published by the Western Telegraph. It has been reposted here for posterity.