“How it all began” plus a rare interview with Helga Anders from 1982
In the 1960’s families were particularly interested in Animals. The reason being was that during those times, people didn’t have computers in the house. Sport and board games were the order of the day and if there was room available a pet was appropriate. If that was not possible people read books about animals particularly horses, visited the zoo or went to the circus. Stories about a ‘man’s best friend’ a horse or dog stood high up on the list.
The Adventures of Fury (American TV), was already being shown on television in Germany.
In 1962 a book by the Yugoslavian author Vladimir Carin was well received in Germany. Ferien In Lipizza was his first book and a short time after two further volumes were just as successful. During this period Vera Von Albert, was a producer for Sudwestfunk GmbH television in Baden Baden a subsidiary of the former Sudwestfunks (SWF). Vera was on the lookout for new ideas and she came across the books Ferien in Lipizza.
It soon became clear that these books would make exciting television adventures for families. The programme was broadcast between 6pm and 8pm on ARD, this was the perfect time for families to see the show. The books about Julia who was the focal point in the stories had to be completely re-written for all 13 episodes.
Now was the time to think about who could play the starring role. At this time there was a great choice of actresses with plenty of talent. ‘Casting’ a word used today was in the 1960’s known as (Probeaufnahmen) ‘Auditioning’. In the case of Ferien In Lipizza the search for an actress was done completely different. Suggestions were made to Frau Von Albert by her office staff. Just as they were ready to get in touch with some candidates, a colleague of Vera’s came into the office and wanted to talk with her urgently. At this time there was also a similar series in Baden Baden Der Forellenhof. Vera Von Albert’s colleague was a close friend with the producer Wolfgang Schleif who was making the series Der Forellenhof. Wolfgang was very impressed by the acting ability of the young Helga Anders. The actress had already proved herself successful and had a growing fan base. In Forellenhof she played ‘Christie’ and then ‘Lore’ in Unverbesserlichen which translated means ‘Incorrigible’ but in this case actually means Pollyannaish.
After much thought Vera Von Albert was convinced that with Helga Anders she had found the perfect actress. Hanns Wiedmann, the director agreed with her straight away. Hanns also wrote the Tv series 13 scripts. At this time Helga Anders was very much in demand and had to reject many tempting roles because she was fully booked. Alongside her TV work she also made Films.
How could one make a 13 part series in time with a star that had no gaps in her schedule? Helga was invited into the TV station offices. She liked the scripts straight away and immediately took the role. But how could this role be undertaken when her calendar was fully booked? Together they found a suitable solution to the problem. They agreed to make the show in two stages after sorting filming obligations with other directors in her calendar. At last the papers could be signed off!
Two years before her early death I met with Helga professionally in Munich. We talked about her past in Cinema and Television. Of course Helga told me many interesting and funny tales of her film and television career. Ferien In Lipizza was filmed in Yugoslavia in and around Lipica’s forests and woods. A time she remembers with great joy…
“We were a perfect team!! With Helmut Schneider (Uncle Dimitri) and Frank Muxeneder (Stanko) I was working with two professional actors. It was great fun to film and ride in the untouched Yugoslavian countryside.”
She also remembers a funny scene and as she described what happened she burst out laughing. She told me that a completely harmless scene was cut out of episode 1.