Selling Hitler [1991]

Selling Hitler is a five-part miniseries based on the novel of the same name by Robert Harris. It was first broadcast on ITV1 between 11 June and 9 August 1991, and is a dramatisation of the "Hitler Diaries" scandal of the early 1980s. It stars Jonathan Pryce as Gerd Heidemann, a reporter for a German magazine called 'Stern', who is obsessed with Nazi memorabilia and believes that he has come across the publishing coup of the century when he discovers what appears to be a genuine diary written by Adolf Hitler, in which the Fuhrer talks about such mundane things as flatulence, stomach aches and his inability to sleep! Heidemann makes contact with Konrad 'Conny' Fischer (Alexei Sayle), the man who had allegedly found the diary. Fischer reveals that his brother in East Germany can obtain 27 diaries that were written by Hitler, and which were found in the wreckage of a plane that crashed during the war. Heidemann convinces the senior executives of 'Stern' to buy all of the diaries that Fischer can get his hands on, as well as an opera written by Hitler and some of Hitler's paintings. The 'Stern' executives include Manfred Fischer (played by Tom Baker), and none of them question the authenticity of the diaries - indeed, they agree not to have them authenticated by an expert until they are in possesion of all the diaries - or the huge sums of money being asked by Konrad Fischer, who increases the price of each diary several times and reveals to Heidemann that many more Hitler diaries have been discovered! The scenes which show Konrad Fischer making the fake diaries are the highlight of this entertaining series, but when watching it one cannot help asking how the people at 'Stern' magazine were fooled by what were very crude forgeries. Selling Hitler is an entertaining drama that does a good job of chronicling what has been described by some as the 'fraud of the century'. The acting is excellent, particularly by Alexei Sayle (known to Doctor Who fans as the DJ in 'Revelation of the Daleks'). Tom Baker, unfortunately, has a relatively small role as Manfred Fischer, who is about to stand down as the head of 'Stern' when the Hitler diaries are "discovered". The series also features Richard Wilson from 'The Empty Child' and 'The Doctor Dances'.

 

 

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