Written by on Jan 12, 2015. Posted in Production News

BBC true-life courtroom drama The Eichmann Show films Lithuania as Jerusalem

The BBC’s historical drama The Eichmann Show stars Martin Freeman as a pioneering TV producer and filmed on location in Vilnius, Lithuania. Feelgood Fiction doubled the city for Jerusalem to recreate the infamous 1961 trial of prominent Nazi Adolf Eichmann.

Eichmann’s trial was the first televised event of its kind and daily highlights were broadcast to audiences in 37 different countries.

Testimony delivered during the trial made the world aware of the true horrors of the Holocaust for the first time some 15 years after the war had ended.

A central challenge during pre-production was finding suitable filming locations to recreate the Jerusalem courtroom where the drama unfolded, and the control room where TV producer Milton Fruchtman marshalled the filming of each day’s testimony.

“We were looking for the hero location,” explains Laurence Bowen of Feelgood Fiction.

The original courtroom in Jerusalem is now used as a local community centre and so wasn’t a feasible location for the shoot. Scouting led to sites being considered in London, Belfast and Leeds in the UK before the team arrived in Vilnius.

Vilnius had a cinema screening room that was a huge concrete monument to the Soviet Union.

Laurence Bowen, Producer

“Vilnius had a cinema screening room that was a huge concrete monument to the Soviet Union,” Bowen says: “The interior layout was in fact almost identical to that of the real location in Jerusalem.”

Bowen gives special mention to local props designer Allen Zepp and Gary Tuck, a line producer with Baltic Film Services, as major selling points for Vilnius as a filming location. Zepp was responsible for designing a replica of Fruchtman’s TV control room.

The production team planned to spend a few days in Jerusalem filming exterior shots, but then a summer of violence flared between Israel and Gaza, prompting a rethink. Locations in Malta including Floriana, Mdina and Rabat instead became stand-ins for Jerusalem.

Lithuania offers production support through the Vilnius Film Office in the capital. The country has a 20% filming incentive administered by the Lithuanian Film Centre.

In the coming months the BBC is returning to Lithuania for a new epic adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

The Eichmann Show has been made as part of the BBC’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. It will be screened in the UK on BBC Two on 20 January 2015.

(Photos: Steffan Hill/BBC)

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