A Small Light: release date, cast, plot, trailer and all about the moving war drama on those who tried to protect Anne Frank

A Small Light on DIsney Plus stars Bel Powley and Joe Cole as the Dutch couple who hid Anne Frank in World War Two..
A Small Light on DIsney Plus stars Bel Powley and Joe Cole as the Dutch couple who hid Anne Frank in World War Two.. (Image credit: Disney Plus)

A Small Light on Disney Plus sheds light on a remarkable yet little known story during World War Two. The tragic story of Anne Frank and her family is known worldwide but this new series, starring Bel Powley, Poldark’s Eleanor Tomlinson and Peaky Blinders’ Joe Cole, shines a light on the brave couple who tried to protect them from the Nazis in Amsterdam. 

A Small Light follows secretary Miep Gies (Bel Powley) and her husband Jan (Joe Cole) who were asked by Miep’s boss Otto Frank (Liev Schreiber) to hide him and his family from the Nazis during World War Two. The Franks shared a tiny attic with the van Pels family and Fritz Pfeffer and were watched over by the Gieses and several other everyday heroes. Miep was the one who found Anne’s diary and preserved it so she and Otto could later share it with the world yet she refused to be labelled a hero, later saying, “I don’t like being called a hero because no one should ever think you have to be special to help others. Even an ordinary secretary or a housewife or a teenager can turn on a small light in a dark room.” 

Here’s everything you need to know about the compelling series A Small Light

Bel Powley takes centre stage in A Small Light.

Bel Powley takes centre stage in A Small Light. (Image credit: Disney Plus)

A Small Light release date

A Small Light is an eight-part series that will launch in the UK on Disney Plus on Tuesday, May 2 2023 under the National Geographic section on there. 

In the US the first episode will air on National Geographic on Monday, May 1, and then the first two episodes will be available to stream on Disney Plus on Tuesday, May 2. 

A Small Light is available to watch in boxset form on UKTV Play from Thursday, 23 May 2024. It also airs on Drama at 9pm on this date, with each episode in the eight-part series showing weekly on Thursdays. 

Is there a trailer for A Small Light?

Yes A Small Light trailer has been released, plus an in-production trailer which shows clips plus behind the scenes of the series. Take a look at both below...

A Small Light plot 

A Small Light follows 20-something Dutch secretary Miep Gies who in 1942 was asked by her boss, Anne’s father Otto, to hide him and his family from the Nazis who were transporting Jews to concentration camps. Miep didn’t hesitate and along with some of Otto’s other employees, looked after the eight people cramped into the secret annex rooms above Otto’s business premises in Amsterdam. After the families were betrayed and discovered by the Nazis on August 4 1944, following 25 months of hiding, Miep found Anne’s diary and kept it safe for her. When she learned about Anne’s death in the holocaust, Miep gave the papers to Otto who had been liberated from Auschwitz. The diary was then published around the world.

Reflecting on the Hanukkah holiday’s themes of resistance, resilience and courage, the first look picture from A Small Light (see main picture above) shows Miep and Jan Gies, the Frank family, the van Pels family, and Fritz Pfeffer in a scene from the show in which they gather to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights while hidden in the secret annex.

A Small Light on Disney Plus follows many wartime heroics.

A Small Light on Disney Plus follows many wartime heroics. (Image credit: Disney Plus)

Kindly Dutch couple Jan and Miep.

Kindly Dutch couple Jan and Miep. (Image credit: Disney Plus)

A Small Light cast — Bel Powley on playing Miep Gies

Bel Powley plays reluctant hero Miep who helped hide and provide food for eight Jews hiding from the Nazis. 

"I found her character incredibly relatable as a young woman," says Bel, 31. ‘Before she was put in that situation, and before she made the decision to do what she did, she was just a normal young girl.

"My main source of research was Miep’s own book called Anne Frank Remembered. So I read that a few times just to get a sense of her voice. I just wanted to get  an idea of who she was, and her soul, so that was helpful for me too."

* Bel Powely played the teenage Princess Margaret in another wartime drama based on real events, the 2015 film A Royal Night Out. She has previously starred as Claire Conway on The Morning Show and Birdy in Everything I Know About Love. Bel has also appeared in The King of Staten Island, Informer, Mary Shelley, M.I. High and voices Little My in the animated series Moominvalley. She was Bianca Dyke (Tiger Dyke's sister) in one series of the hit ITV comedy Benidorm.

Bel Powley as Miep Gies.

Bel Powley stars as as Miep Gies. (Image credit: Disney Plus)

Bel Powley as brave Miep.

Bel Powley as brave Miep. (Image credit: Disney Plus)

Joe Cole on playing  Jan Gies 

Joe Cole is starring in A Small Light as Miep’s bookish husband Jan. “There are scenes where we're having fun and falling in love, and moments where we're arguing and under great stress," Joe says. "Seeing all those moments come together – those nuances in amongst the darker stuff – it just works so beautifully."

* Joe Cole previously played John Shelby in Peaky Blinders, Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File and Sean Wallace in Gangs of London. He’s also starred in Netflix movie Against the Ice, Pure, and Black Mirror

Joe Cole as bookish Jan.

Joe Cole as Jan, the bookish husband of Miep. (Image credit: Disney Plus)

Joe Cole as Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File.

Joe Cole as Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File. (Image credit: ALTITUDE FILM FOR ITV)

Liev Schreiber on playing Otto Frank

In A Small Light, Liev Schreiber is playing Otto Frank, the father of Dutch teenager Anne Frank. 

"As a Jewish American who gets offered a lot of Holocaust stuff and generally hesitates, I feel like it's my job to kind of reinvent that idea every time, and it gets harder and harder to do," says 55-year-old Liev. ‘But this is not the Anne Frank story you were taught in school.  They've found nuance and elements of it which, for me, give you a broader sense of what happened.

"It’s a very fresh take on what a lot of people think is a Jewish story, and it's not really a Jewish story. It's a human story, and in this case, it's a young, Austrian immigrant girl's story."

* Liev Schreiber is well known for playing Ray Donovan in the series of the same name and starred in The Manchurian Candidate, The Omen, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Salt and Don’t Look Up. He narrates the TV series Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Detroit Lions and Inside the Manson Cult: The Lost Tapes.  

Liev Shrieber is playing Otto Frank.

Liev Shrieber playing Otto Frank alongside Bel Powley as Miep. (Image credit: Disney Plus)

Who else is starring in A Small Light? 

There's a large all-star cast in A Small Light. Billie Boullet (The Worst Witch) plays teenager Anne Frank while Amira Casar (Call Me By Your Name) is her mother Edith and Ashley Brooke (New Amsterdam) is her sister Margot. Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson is Miep’s best friend Tess, Andy Nyman (The Capture) is Hermann van Pels, Caroline Catz (Doc Martin) is Auguste van Pels and Noah Taylor (Game of Thrones) is Dr Fritz Pfeffer. Sally Messham (Doc Martin) is secretary Bep Voskuijl.

Ian McElhinney plays Johannes Kleiman, Nicholas Burns (Benidorm) is Victor Kugler, who areMiep’s coworkers. Liza Sadovy is Mrs Stoppelman, Laurie Kynaston is Casmir, and Sebastian Armesto plays Max Stoppelman.

Billie Boullet as Anne Frank.

Billie Boullet as Anne Frank. (Image credit: Disney Plus)

Eleanor Tomlinson and Bel Powley.

Eleanor Tomlinson as Tess out with her best friend Miep (Bel Powley). (Image credit: Disney Plus)

Behind the scenes and more about A Small Light

A Small Light is produced by ABC Signature in partnership with Keshet Studios for National Geographic. Executive producers and writers Joan Rater and Tony Phelan (Grey’s Anatomy, Council of Dads) serve as showrunners, and DGA award-winner and Emmy-nominated executive producer Susanna Fogel (The Flight Attendant, Cat Person) directs many episodes including the first. The executive producers are Peter Traugott and Lisa Roos for Keshet Studios, Alon Shtruzman for Keshet International and Avi Nir for Keshet Media Group.

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.