It is difficult to believe that the VPRO was once a small broadcaster run by the pastors and clergymen. Thanks to the short lived but groundbreaking youth program 'Hoepla' (1967), which caused a lot of VPRO members to cancel their membership, the VPRO decided to break away from the church and begin making television that didn't follow the establish norm. This prompted the creators of Hoepla, Wim van der Linden, Wim T. Schippers, Ruud van Hemert and Gied Jaspars to be asked to make a brand new, similar youth culture show. Instead they unleashed a brand new 'anti-television/variety show' called "De Fred Haché Show" in 1972. Before long all the available phones lines at the station were ringing red hot again with people wanting no more to do with the VPRO.
The easily annoyed Fred Haché (Harry Touw) and his clumsy assistant Barend Servet (IJf Blokker) presented an hour of entertainment from a set that is almost as hard to describe as the show itself. One half showbiz glitter (compete with a giant staircase leading nowhere) while the other half looked like the interior of a typical Dutch house (also with a staircase). Each installment featured the quiz 'Wat Is Dit ' (What is this), the interview section 'Met Fred Haché Op De Canapé' (on the couch with Fred Haché) and (fake) journalism in 'Achter Het Nieuws Met Barend Servet' (Behind the news with Barend Servet). There were also musical guests, though most of them never got to finish an entire song, being either interrupted by Haché or cut off by technical difficulties. For anything that could go wrong on this show, would. Oh, and a running gag was that Haché always passed round exploding cigars, which came compete with band aids and soot just like in a cartoon.
Intend to break as many rules as possible, the show featured great big close-ups of people stepping into dogie doodoo, full frontal nudity (both male and female) and absurd humor. Nothing was sacred, one show even had Dolf Brouwers dressed as Hitler, singing an aria while swastika's fell out of his mouth (by way of a little optical trickery). Brouwers first appeared in the second show, as a Belgian version of what would become his signature character, Sjef van Oekel. Indeed, Van Oekel's popularity would grow to eclipse both Haché and Servet within two years. Each character had his own signature catchphrases courtesy of writer Wim T. Schippers, some of which became ingrained in the Dutch language over the years. All of these programs are seen as Schippers creation nowadays, while at the time he shared an all round 'created, produced and written by' credit with Gied Ruud van and the other Wim.
Next to the recurring features the show featured increasingly absurd sketches. These started off as flashbacks from the mind of Haché, but soon began to take over most of the show. In the fifth and final show, Harry Touw and IJf Blokker leave their costumes at the studio and go home, only to wake up to find the entire show had been a dream. Touw goes to work at an office with the entire production staff and Blokker as their manager. This goes on for at least 10 minutes without explanation before the show ends without credits. But not to worry, Barend Servet would soon get his own show, 'Barend is weer Bezig', in which Touw would play a different character (Otto Kolkvet) and Sjef van Oekel's rise to fame was just beginning...
9 out of 10
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