Ladies and gents, presenting all the facts about "Moordspel"
After 8 successful seasons of 'De Showbizzquiz', game show host Ron Brandsteder and producer Joop van den Ende wanted to try something new. Showbiz pal André van Duin suggested merging the game show format with the popular detective series (which at that time were usually imported from Germany or England by Tros Television) into something he called a Krimi-quiz. Ron and Joop had their first serious meeting about this April 30th, 1986 (the day the Dutch monarch celebrates her birthday, aka 'Konningedag'). Soon after wards, producers Hans Peters, René Sleeswijk and Jeanine Kleyberg were invited to play a game of Clue(do) at Van Duin's house and a deal was struck. However, the Dutch writers assigned to come up with 6 episodes worth of crimes to solve soon stuck. Luckily about that time Joop found out a similar show had been produced by Thames Television a few years earlier, called "Who done it". He quickly scooped up the rights, had the scripts translated into Dutch, and exactly 9 months after their first meeting, Brandsteder was hosting Moordspel's first live broadcast on Tros Television, Friday the 30th of January, 1987.
To plug and prepare viewers for Moordspel, teasers were shown a week before and special 'suspect cards' were made available at gas stations and shops (as well as popular tabloid mag 'Privé'). Out of all the good answers, 100 candidates were picked to make up the live studio audience, six of whom were picked to compete in the show (one for each suspect). The crime had to be solved in 90 minutes (from 20.28 to 21.58 to be accurate), tough only 25 minute were spend on the prerecorded mystery (directed by Englishman Andrew Wilson). Included herein were 25 clues (one per minute!), 7 or 8 of which lead to the killer, the rest being red herrings. The drama was split up into 4 acts, at the end of each the contestants would cast their temporary verdict. To pass the time between acts, there was the usual Showbiz ballet by Brian Rogers and a chance for one audience member to go on a 3 minute free shopping spree (directed by Guus Verstraete Jr.). For the final round, the actors came out to be interrogated (in character) until finally Ron would dramatically fetch the sealed envelope containing the answer out of a safe. Prizes to be won included a Ford Fiesta Super Sport, a dream vacation supplied by British Airways, or a set of matched luggage (without the vacation). At the end of each show, 6 minutes of the next one would be previewed to give the viewer at home a chance to pick the next murderer and fill in the next card.
Of the six stories, the first (januari 30th 1987) took place during a family gathering on New Year's eve 1899, where the head of the family was poisoned by the prise of his own snake collection, and only had 15 minutes to figure out which family member did him in before succumbing to the deadly viper. Mysterie number two (februari 6 1987) was set in a photo studio where the wealthy female owner was found dead in a trunk with a 'prop' arrow sticking out of her. Number three (februari 13 1987) took us on a cruise ship during the early eighties where a purser and his assistant try to solve a suspect suicide. This one turned out to be a misleading episode, as the murder victim turned up alive and well, disguised as an old lady in the climax. The fourth one (februari 20th 1987) saw a magician's trick go horribly wrong when his lovely assistant was skewered to death during his famous sword act. To payback André van Duin for coming up with the idea in the first place, he was invited to be a special guest contestant in this episode, broadcast live on his birthday. The penultimate and most modern episode (februari 27 1987) featured the singer of a pop band being electrocuted on stage and the final Moordspel (march 6 1987) took place during the Rio Carnaval in 1930 and centered round the murder of a casino owner. The week after that, 'Moordspel Extra' was broadcast, in which the final winners were announced by special guest Glynis Barber and bloopers from the six previous episodes's mysteries were screened. There was also a 25 minute special all about the dance numbers by the Brian Rogers Dancers, including an interview with Brian himself (broadcast twice!).
Although the show was a success, it was clearly too ambitious for it's own good (Brandsteder himself called it 'four shows in one'). Next to being a multi layered variety show, six (period) drama's were played out by reasonably well known actors, who also had to be available to do improvisations on the night of the broadcast. Needless to say, Moordspel did not return for a second season. In fact, the show has hardly ever been mentioned on television or in writing since, though some conspiracy theories have popped up on the internet over the years. One involves tragic quiz-master Willem Ruis, who's fatal heart attack at an early age has been rumored to be linked to (amongst other things) not getting to do Moordspel, while others insist the death of actor Lo van Hensbergen a mere three weeks after he played the murder victim in the premier episode contributed to the show's cancellation. My guess is they simply ran out of scripts to recycle from 'Who done it'. Without those, how were they to come up with fresh new murders to solve? Before 1987 was over, Ron and Joop had come up with another winning formula, "Ron's Honeymoon quiz", hearkening back to the earlier Showbizzquiz (having hopeful young couples in their wedding attire compete instead of hopeful entertainers). So there you have it. Case closed 20 years after the fact.
9 out of 10
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