The Windermere Children: When is it on TV, and what is it about?

By Guest, 24 January 2020 - 12:21pm

We look at the forthcoming TV and radio programmes for family historians – including a new drama to mark Holocaust Memorial Day

The Windermere Children
The 'children' and the actors who play them (Credit: Helen Sloan/BBC/Wall to Wall/ZDF)

Pick of the month

The Windermere Children

When is The Windermere Children on TV?

The Windermere Children is on BBC Two at 9pm on Monday 27 January 2020 – Holocaust Memorial Day.

What’s it about?

In 1945, the Government granted 1,000 children the right to enter the UK. These survivors of the Nazi death camps were assumed to be orphans.

Of those who arrived, brought to the UK by the RAF, 300 were taken to the Calgarth Estate near Windermere in the Lake District, a place to recuperate in tranquil surroundings in their first few months in a new country.

TV’s Robert Rinder discovered that his own grandfather was among the refugees in a moving episode of Who Do You Think You Are? in 2018.

However, the road to recovery from their ordeal wasn’t easy.

The children were deeply traumatised, spoke no English, and had few if any possessions.

The man responsible for overseeing their care was Oscar Friedmann, a psychoanalyst and social worker born in Germany, and himself a refugee from the Nazis.

The task of working with so many traumatised children had never been attempted before, yet Friedmann and his team believed they could help the youngsters build new lives and become reintegrated into society.

The story of what happened next is the subject of 90-minute drama The Windermere Children, part of programming across BBC networks to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust.

The film charts how the children, many of whom regarded their new home as close to paradise, formed lifelong bonds.

Their recollections feature throughout the programme, both in interviews with the now elderly survivors and in the way that the script from Simon Block (writer of 2015 drama The Eichmann Show) draws on their testimony.

Who stars in it?

A strong cast sees Thomas Kretschmann portray Friedmann, Romola Garai play art therapist Marie Paneth and Tim McInnerny as the philanthropist Leonard Montefiore, who as a representative of the Central British Fund for German Jewry (CBF) went to war-ravaged Europe to see what could be done for Holocaust survivors.

Get more previews of this month's top family history TV and radio in the February 2020 issue of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, on sale now


Also showing

Holocaust Memorial Day
Monday 27 January

75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp, more than 150 survivors attend a unique commemoration to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, presented by Huw Edwards.

The victims of Nazi persecution and later genocides will be remembered through music, poetry and powerful personal testimony.

Among those taking part in this annual event are cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, accompanied by his brother Braimah, as well as Sir Simon Russell Beale, Rebecca Front, and The Fourth Choir.


The Last Survivors
Monday 27 January

This landmark documentary follows a year in the life of the last Holocaust survivors in Britain today, as they revisit their experiences of the genocide.

Belsen: Our Story
Tuesday 28 January

This moving film reveals the true experience of life inside the infamous Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where over 50,000 victims of Nazi persecution, mostly Jews, died, primarily from starvation and disease in the last phase of the Second World War.

It includes new interviews with survivors and archive footage of the camp’s liberation by the British Army.


Auschwitz Untold: In Colour
All 4

This new two-part documentary from More 4 reveals the suffering and resistance of the Holocaust victims imprisoned at Auschwitz through interviews with 16 survivors and colourised archive footage.


Who Do You Think You Are?
BBC iPlayer

Series 14 of Who Do You Think You Are? returns to the BBC, with the chance to catch up on episodes featuring Charles Dance, Craig Revel Horwood and Clare Balding.


Mary Beard's Shock of the Nude
Monday 3 February

The nude, says Mary Beard in this new two-part series, has been the subject of controversy since ancient times.

So how should we think about nudes in art?

Should we see the nude as exploitative or, conversely, should we be more worried about censorship and puritanism in our reactions?

The answers to these kinds of questions prove to be surprisingly complex as the Cambridge classicist turns her gaze on such world-famous artworks as the Venus de’ Medici and Michelangelo’s David, who we learn has had his modesty protected for much of his history.

Beard also considers the impact of Marc Quinn’s nude statue of fellow artist Alison Lapper, who was born with shortened legs and no arms, when it was put on display on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.


Secrets of the Museum
Weekly from Thursday 6 February

London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (better known as the V&A) describes itself as “the world’s leading museum of art and design”. 

The objects in its collections include original manuscripts written by Charles Dickens, spectacular Dior dresses and artist Grayson Perry’s Brexit vases. 

As this new fly-on-the-wall series explores, looking after these artefacts is a mammoth undertaking that involves the work of hundreds of curators, conservators and technicians. 

As we learn in the first of six episodes, the experts don’t just look after spectacular objects. Many of the items in the collections have far more humble backstories. 

One example is Pumpie the Elephant, a handmade toy who is 100 years old. So it’s no wonder that he’s had several encounters with clothes moths in the course of his very long life, and is now in urgent need of restoration.

Victoria & Albert Museum elephant
Pumpie the elephant needed some care and attention from the V&A staff (Credit: Blast Films/Rob Farquhar)


Inside the Crown: Secrets of the Royals
Weekly from Thursday 23 January

This documentary series looks at the conflict between love and duty for the Royal Family, including the Queen’s long-lived marriage to Prince Philip.


BBC Radio 4 Player

This new radio drama commemorates the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage through the story of a fictional passenger on the ship, Sarah Hargreaves. All 10 episodes are available to listen to now.


The Trial of The Well of Loneliness
BBC Radio 4 

Saturday 25 January

In 1928, Radclyffe Hall’s account of the love between two women lay at the centre of an obscenity trial. Shelley Silas’ drama in the Riot Girls strand explores legal efforts to ban the novel.



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