The Diary of Anne Frank 12 January 2022: Wednesday on BBC Four

Series 1 Episode 1 of 5 – June 1942. WWII Amsterdam is under Nazi occupation. Anne Frank, a teenage Jewish girl, is celebrating her 13th birthday with her family and friends by having a party. Amongst her birthday presents, she is given a red diary that she starts to write in immediately. Days later, call up papers arrive for her 16-year-old sister Margot and her parents, Otto and Edith, decide to hasten their plan to go into hiding from the Nazis to ensure that the family do not get separated.

The next morning, the Franks head to Otto’s spice company. Once there, they are led past the warehouses by their helpers in the office and taken up to a secret annex at the back of the building that occupies the three top floors. Otto and Edith will sleep in one room, with Margot and Anne next door in another. They will soon be joined by their friends Mr and Mrs Van Daan and their teenage son Peter, who will live on the floor above, in the larger shared living area. At the very top of the building is a disused attic, too cold to sleep in but useful for storing food. They must obey strict rules in the annex, remaining completely silent during working hours while the warehouse men are in the building. Only the faithful office staff know of their existence and have agreed to help them survive.

At first, Edith and Margot find the confinement hard to bear and sink into depression, while Otto and Anne make themselves useful, arranging the furniture that has been hidden there for them, and sewing material together to make black-out curtains. The Van Daans soon arrive and liven things up, especially when Peter reveals that he has brought his pet cat Mouschi, while Anne was forced to leave her cat at home. Anne does not think much of Peter but decides she must try and be pleasant to him to keep the peace.

Series 1 Episode 2 of 5 – October 1942. World War II. In the secret annex where Anne Frank is in hiding from the Nazis with her family and close friends the Van Daan family, the toilet is blocked and her father, Otto, is forced to try and unblock it with a stick. When he fails, they have to resort to using jam jars until it is mended. Their helpers in the offices downstairs call a plumber, and the family are terrified that he will need to come up to the annex and they will be discovered. Fortunately, it is finally sorted from downstairs and all is well.

Anne finds Mrs Van Daan increasingly hard to bear, as she orders her around and criticises her in a way that her liberal parents never do. She also finds Peter Van Daan frustratingly dim, and never misses an opportunity to tell him so. But overall they are getting used to their incarceration, and the strict rules of daily quiet by which they must live. Otto oversees their school studies and everyone has their routine tasks to perform. Only at night when the bomb raids start is Anne so scared that she runs into her parents’ room for comfort.

Anne invites Miep and her husband Jan to come to dinner in the annex and to stay overnight in her room, while she and Margot camp in their parents’ room, and Miep agrees. Anne is thrilled and draws up a special menu in their honour, which Mrs Van Daan cooks for them. But Miep brings the bad news, which she tells only the Franks, that the Van Daans’ apartment has been ransacked by the Nazis and all their property confiscated. When Mrs Van Daan asks Miep to bring her some more of her things, it is Anne who covers the difficult moment with a toast to the helpers.

Series 1 Episode 3 of 5 – Amsterdam, November 1942. The routine in the annex is now very established. Otto tries to keep up with company business by lying on the floor and listening to meetings downstairs, and he is shocked to discover that the building has had to be sold. They fear that the new owner will demand access to the annex and they will be discovered, but Mr Kleiman tells the owner that he has left the key at home. The lease won’t be exchanged for months yet, and the war might be over by then, so for now the threat is over.

When Miep arrives she tells them their friendly grocer has gone missing, and they fear he might betray them to the Nazis as he has been providing extra supplies for the annex, but Miep trusts him. Miep also gives Mr Dussel the latest letter and food parcel from his fiance, which annoys Anne as she thinks he is putting them at greater risk with his letter exchanges. Her parents agree but do not want to say anything to him.

That evening Anne helps to wash her mother’s hair and for once they are close, talking about how tiring she was as a small baby. It is Hanukkah and everyone in the annex gathers for the ceremony around the dinner table. But when drips start falling from the ceiling onto the food Peter dashes off to the attic, followed by Anne, where he admits that he forgot to put out the cat’s litter tray. Anne is convinced he is a fool and teases him.

Food shortages are getting worse and Bep from the office now comes up to the annex for lunch every day. Anne asks Mr Dussel to let her use their shared bedroom for the agreed time but he isn’t ready to give up the desk and they row. Otto talks to Dussel and persuades him how important writing is to Anne.

About The Diary of Anne Frank

Five-part adaptation of Anne Frank’s famous wartime diaries.

This show is broadcast on BBC Four, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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