Television producer Dick van Bommel brought together 5 distinct personalities to put on a comedy variety show for the NCRV to debut 17 September 1966. They were writer Alexander Pola, director/actor Fred Benavente, singer and showman Ted de Braak and young 'alternative' (at that time) comedy writers Henk van der Horst and Jan Fillekers. But Pola, the eldest member of the team, possessed a sardonic streak and wrote and performed speech filled with political sarcasm that was broadcast 14 October 1966. From that moment on the show became known for it's satire and always siding with the underdogs.
Each show was initially presented as a news broadcast anchored by Jan Fillekers and Alexander Pola. Apparently you have to be clean-shaven for this job, for as soon as little old Alexander grew a beard, Jan Fillekers had to do the hosting on his own. The program really struck a chord with viewers when the cast-members (or 'Farce Forum' as they liked to be called) went out to perform in a different city for each installment, dressed as buskers with woolly scarves and hats and accompanied by their own mobile podium to take questions from the audience. Actually, these questions were written in advance by Alexander P and so were the answers. Over the years, this became one of their most popular and distinctive items, as crowds would grow larger and larger and everybody in the country could sing along with their anthem 'Dat Is Uit Het Leven Gegrepen'.
The various news items were accentuated by sketches and musical numbers. A lot of these songs were parodies of popular numbers and those that required new music were mostly composed by Harry Bannink. During the oil crisis of 1973, one particular number became a carnival hit and caused a bit of political unrest, as the Farce members dressed up as oil sheiks and sang 'Kiele Kiele Koeweit'. They even went as a far as to present the first copy of the single to the ambassador of Kouweit, who took it all in stride. And they did that all dressed up as Arabs as well.
After ten years and exactly 150 shows, the team called it quits with a special concert performance dressed in Tuxedos instead of their usual scarfs. But in 1983 the entire team reunited for a brand new series, and this time allowed a woman to join their midst: Hetty Heytink. However, her involvement lasted a mere six episodes. After one more season, Ted de Braak, who had become a popular game show host in the intervening years, was offered to take over as host of the 123 Show from Rudi Carrell. His manager at the time, up and coming Joop van der Ende, unceremoniously informed the remaining Farce members that Ted was leaving the team.
With Ted gone, also out was the weekly roadshow by the Farce Forum. The long scarves and hats were placed on a coat rack and became part of the new permanent set, filmed in a tavern near Hilversum. Instead of coming to the public, an audience was invited to attend the filming of each show as the remaining four members were placed in between them. They also invited a special guest star to appear in each subsequent episode, ironically starting with Rudi Carrell. The show finally folded in 1986, having found that the mid Eighties were just as turbulent as the late Sixties and early Seventies had been.
Although most of the shows were too topical to be repeated and a lot of the material has been destroyed (apparently including almost everything of the Hetty Heyting episodes). The team did reunited (with Ted but with the late Alexander Pola) in 2003 for a look back at their work in relation to todays news (the more things change...). This show was popular enough for two follow ups in 2004. The third of these focused on the guest stars from the last few series and although it did feature one clip of Heytink (reprising her Oma Knots character from De Familie Knots), she was the only guest star that remained uncredited.
Even more startling is that during a recent month of repeats of most of the remaining material on feel good channel Best 24 (formerly Hilversum Best), no mention was made of Hetty's involvement at all. Not even during an interview conducted by Han Peekel with Fillekers and Van der Horst (Benavente having passed on in 2005 and De Braak living in France). The departure of De Braak was explained in great detail, but the addition and dis-mission of miss Heytink was totally overlooked. Just thought I'd mention it here just to prove that somebody does remember her being part of Farce Majeure.
8 out of 10
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