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Tante Lien's televized Koempoelans

8/10
Author: Chip_douglas from Rijswijk, ZH, Netherlands
29 June 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Dutch still have a strong bond with their former colony Indonesia because most Indonesians with European blood saw themselves forced to move the the cold Netherlands after Soekarno came to power in 1959. By the late Seventies, Vara television took a chance on broadcasting a television show specifically aimed at Indo's starring the then 30 something Wieteke van Dort as the 'not yet 65' Auntie Lien Multatuli van Drommelen. The show got the imaginative title 'De Late Late Lien show, referencing the kind of American late night variety shows that I don't think were broadcast in the Netherlands at the time. Although the title basically means the same in both Dutch and English, Wieteke always used to pronounce the word 'late' in English and her own name 'Lien' the Dutch way (that would be spelled 'Leen' for any English readers who happen to read this).

Wieteke literally grew into the character of Tante Lien by accident: as an Indo herself, she decided to play one of the many sketch characters on the ground breaking children's show De Stratemakeropzeeshow as an old Indonesian lady. Jan Riem then wrote a supporting character for her by the name of Tante Lien into the television series "Wij en Wereld" This auntie and her comical way of speaking soon proved to be so popular that Wieteke was asked to perform the character at events. She quickly called Riem to write her a couple of monologues and songs and basically hasn't stopped playing Lien ever since.

In the TV show, Tante Lien would preside over gatherings known as 'Koempoelans' for her Dutch-Indonesian guests together with her much maligned sister Toetie (Elly Ruimschotel). There were always plenty of performers of Indonesian decent to introduce, including Anneke Grönloh, Willem Nijholt, De Blue Diamonds, Sandra Reemer (then calling herself Xandra) & Margie Ball and Boudewijn de Groot. The show also featured interviews, fashion shows, traditional dance and comedy. Harry Bannink, aka De Hoofdgeitebrijer, headed his combo (nicknamed the Saté Babi Boys by Lien) and accompanied Tante Lien while she performed numbers that alternated between lighthearted and seriousness.

As Toetie, Elly Ruimschotel started of playing the character as if she had a few screws loose, but as the series grew Toetie became more shrewd and started to talk back to her older sister Lien and got her own songs to sing on the show. Toetie also fell in love with a plumber played by Piet Hendriks who afterward attended most Koempoelans without having any prior knowledge of Indonesian culture. Other recurring characters where the the nephews played by Robert Kreis (also one of the writers) and Koen Pronk (who managed Wieteke's stage performances). Trudy Labij appeared as nosy next door neighbor Ellis who often crashed the Koempoelan and usually managed to put her foot in her mouth. Unlike Toetie, Lien was less fortunate in love. In fact, she may have been described as an old spinster. She did pine for her lost love Geoffrey (played by ?) and was in turn admired by a stuck up, white suited colonial called Mautje (Gerard Cox).

The show was screened sporadically between 1978 and 1981 by the VARA, and like De Statemakeropzeeshow before it, a lot of the Ampex tapes were immediately wiped after the first screening. In 1988 the competitor AVRO asked Tante Lien to host another 4 Late Late shows. Recenlty, a box of 8 remaining Vara shows was released on DVD, complete with a handy booklet that features all the song titles and writers (ripe to be added to the IMDb) and even one of the recipes from Wies van Maarseveen's often cooking segment that was usually cut short on the show. The final four AVRO shows have yet to resurface. Meanwhile, Wieteke still makes personal performances as Tante Lien all over the place now that she has just about reached her alter ego's actual age, without Toetie, as Elly Ruimschotel passed away in 2000, but often together with musician Aïs Lawa-Lata who made his debut on the Late Late Lien Show back in 1979.

8 out of 10

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