Peninsula Films

The Mystery of Anastasia

This is Anna Anderson. She claimed she was the Grand Duchess Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Russia's Tsar Nicholas II. Although history says the whole family were shot in a cellar in Siberia in 1918, their remains were never found until the 1990s. And then it transpired the body of Anastasia was actually missing from the family mass grave. Some people who had known the real Anastasia as a child believed that Anna Anderson genuinely was the lost princess. We became involved in the two year scientific investigation to determine the true identity of Anna Andersen.

Although by then Anna Anderson had died, some tissue of her's, a pathology specimen, was found in an American hospital. The DNA profile of this tissue was analysed and compared to the DNA profile of Anastasia's family living today (the UK's Duke of Edinburgh amongst others) by the UK's Forensic Science Service. The result was a disappointment to many. It showed Anna Anderson was not Grand Duchess Anastasia after all, and in another DNA test commissioned by Peninsula Films, it was determined she was a Polish impostor by the name of Franzisca Schanzkowska.

Our film was a broadcast as an Equinox Special on Channel Four Television and received a record audience for this type of programme. The programme has enjoyed a continuing life as an educational tool in the UK's A Level school history course.