Monday’s TV: Perspective for the first week back

January 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, Monday 5th January, BBC1, 7:00pm  Alert me

It’s the first Monday of the year. You’re back in the office. Mum’s Christmas dinner is already a hazier memory than on Boxing Day and no matter how many times you try to give yourself just a little lift by wishing your colleagues a happy new year and swapping holiday anecdotes you can’t seem to shake the stench of disillusionment.  Want a way to both escape and also to cunningly avoid wallowing in self-pity? Watch The Diary of Anne Frank this week.

I don’t know if the BBC timed this one to ensure that the nation perked up a little this month or what, but the drama based on the inner-most thoughts of a little Jewish girl in Holland, who is forced into hiding with her family before being discovered by the Nazis is a sure fire way to get your viewers sitting up and thanking their lucky (non-WW2, jacket-pinned, oppressively government-enforced) stars.

Featuring a wonderful cast, the five-parter, beginning tonight, offers a precious insight into the upturned world of a renowned historical figure whose writings have been read by millions since in the form of the 1947 publication The Diary of a Young GirlIain Glen compellingly plays her kind-hearted father Otto Frank while Tamsin Greig (Black Books, Green Wing) is terrific in her role as Anne’s distressed mother.  Anne herself, played by Ellie Kendrick, is also finely casted and manages to be effortlessly captivating in both her acting and also her narration.

Adapted by Deborah Moggach, the story is compacted into a week’s worth of drama (directed by Jon Jones and produced by Elinor Day), which is bound to draw you in and away from your own reality.  This kind of format fittingly reflects the content- the set is suffocatingly cramped and the tale becomes ever intense with each consecutive day resulting in the feeling that you’re almost living it yourself- and then you remember that you’re not and actually your life is a whole heap more privileged.

No doubt about it.  This is part of the answer to the January blues. The other is a large glass of wine as you leave your work firmly in the office this week and skip home to gain a little perspective at the same time as watching some first-rate drama.

By Susan Allen