Audrey H

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Unicef saved Audrey Hepburn's life as a child in Holland at the end of the war just as it was going to save the Sudanese boy's life, and that is one reason why she is so proud to be a Unicef ambassador. It is the repaying of a very personal debt. But there is a deeper connection with the war years, one which brings her to London this week, not only to raise money for Unicef through public performance, but to pay tribute to the unquenchable spirit of the child in trouble through the life of one individual, Anne Frank.

On Thursday, at the Barbican, Audrey Hepburn and Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the London Symphony Orchestra will be presenting their version of the life of Anne Frank through the words of her diary and Tilson Thomas's specially composed music. It is a project which has returned both Tilson Thomas and Audrey Hepburn to their own youth through their identification with the undisguised turbulence of Anne Frank's own adolescence, one in which every emotion was intensified by incarceration and fear of capture. This is powerful material enough, but for Hepburn the connection with Anne Frank is even more personal.

When I met her to talk about it she was perched in a plush Claridges suite. I was expecting sophistication, elegance and a polished film-star performance. I had been told that she was every good thing from hard-working, generous and thoughtful to charming and downright divine. This undersold her, making her sound bland. The woman I met surprised me by being passionate, unpretentious and extremely down-to-earth. It took only a few minutes to realise that with Audrey Hepburn, what you see is what you get.

The first thing you get is the familiar face, one which, I suspect, doesn't spend too long gazing at itself in angled mirrors, other than in the line of professional duty. She wears very little make-up. Her hair is pulled back into a basic…...

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