Turning into a wartime nurse…

Working as an Associate Producer for British production companies on Polish history has, like any other production, it’s very own set of challenges – and filming with directors and sometimes crews that do not speak a word of Polish you are rarely left with a moment to spare…

Not only are you co-ordinating all the crew, making sure the days shoot runs on time, making the final calls ahead of tomorrows filming, whilst carrying unruly boxes full of equipment and figuring out the fastest driving route to the next location, whilst at the same time preparing for the next interview… (Catch your breath here!) …but more importantly, you are also the person who makes the next contributor feel at ease, whilst interviewing the person in front of you, and asking the previous participant to sign release forms and thank them for their time… and oh! never, ever forgetting, that the crew needs feeding!

Indeed, you need to be Mary Poppins. Nothing less will do.

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This may help explain one of the reasons as to why, whenever finding myself in any unheated basement cellar or dirty production trailer – filled with old and however random ‘period’ clothing, I turn into my very own version of Julie Andrews…(up in the mountains this time!) …just about to burst into song!

My heart fills up with exuberant joy shortly followed by nearly uncontrollable skipping…

It would simply be an understatement, to say that I love dressing up in period costume and for the forthcoming History series ‘Heroes of War: Poland’ we filmed some of the re-enactment in Warsaw, where for a brief, however fleeting, moment – I turned into a wartime nurse…

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This scene was filmed for the ‘Żegota’ episode* – depicting the aid provided by a nurse belonging to Irena Sendlerowa’s network.

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Irena Sendler’s network helped to save around 2500 Jewish children in WW2 occupied Poland. The lovely young girl in these photographs is Sara Knothe. She played one of the leads in Feliks Falk’s WW2 feature film ‘Joanna’. Her brother, in this scene, was played by actor Maciej Dmochowski. We filmed the reenactment outdoors for an entire day in freezing February Warsaw – which explains our very “rosy” cheeks, noses and ears!

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All the above production stills were shot by photographer Bartłomiej Ryży.

*Of course, it takes no more than the most basic knowledge of conditions in occupied Warsaw, to notice the flaw with this picture…

Any aid given to Jews in occupied Poland was punishable by death – so any food or medicine would not have been handed outdoors like this in plain view. But then, it is important to keep in mind that this is television history. And re-enactment on television, despite all the efforts of historical accuracy, is governed by the rules of shooting logistics and the two often quite cruel masters: time and money.

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