Martin Freeman

Sherlock star to appear in BBC Holocaust drama

Sherlock star Martin Freeman is to star in a BBC drama about the televised trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

He will play TV producer Milton Fruchtman, who helped to make the trial of the man seen as one of the key architects of the Holocaust into an event which was seen around the world, in the BBC2 film The Eichmann Show.

The drama is part of a season of programmes which are being lined up to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in January.

They include documentaries featuring interviews with a number of survivors, Jews whose lives were torn apart by Nazi persecution and examination of the legacy of the extermination and concentration camp at which around 1.1 million people are believed to have died.

It is said to account for one-sixth of those who died in the Holocaust, which involved the systematic murder of Jews.

Eichmann’s four-month trial was shown on TV in 37 countries in 1961 and gave an astonishing insight into the horror of the death camps as victims were seen relaying their experiences live.

It has been estimated that four-fifths of the German population watched at least an hour a week.

Alongside Hobbit actor Freeman, Australian actor Anthony LaPaglia will play the director of the broadcasts Leo Hurwitz.

The BBC will also televise a memorial event to mark the anniversary which has been organised by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and will be staged in London with hundreds of survivors, together with religious and political leaders.

The season will also include the screening of a landmark 1985 documentary series Shoah, to be shown on BBC4, which featured interviews with survivors and the perpetrators of the Holocaust.

Danny Cohen, the BBC’s director of television, said: “The liberation of the camps is a very significant anniversary which the BBC will mark with a range of thought-provoking programmes.”

Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: “We are delighted that the BBC will be ensuring that Holocaust Memorial Day is marked by the widest possible audience.

On 27 January we honour the survivors of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides and challenge ourselves to learn important lessons from their experiences in order to create a safer, better future.”

Other programmes include a half-hour programme called A Story Of Remembrance, which examines the stories of three women including Auschwitz survivor Kitty Hart-Moxon, children’s author Judith Kerr, who fled from Nazi Germany as a child, and Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, who visits the places her family lived.

There will also be films screened on the BBC’s Learning Zone and there will be special iWonder guides for BBC online.