Han Peekel is currently working on a unique docuseries: 70 years of TV Your best friend. The television producer speaks to forty television makers and also invites readers to contribute. ‘We spend more time on TV than on our partners’
It may have been more than thirty years ago that Han Peekel (73) presented his last episode of Being Continued, to this day he is addressed about the comics program. “Then I’m in a restaurant and suddenly a grown man is at my table to spontaneously imitate Donald Duck or Woody Woodpecker.”
At home in his beautifully renovated house in Blaricum, the contours of his To Be Prosecuted past and his love for comics have not yet faded. Upon entering the hall, a Batman pinball machine beckons, there are numerous comics on the table, hundreds of them are arranged in his studio and various portraits and drawings hang on the wall. From Han Peekel as Obelix to an immense cartoon by Hein de Kort. “Once a fan, always a fan.”
In the corner is a guitar up for grabs. In addition to being a comic book fan and presenter, Han Peekel is also a musician, songwriter, producer and television producer. His next project: 70 years of TV Your best friend, a four-part docuseries at Omroep MAX about television that will be 70 years old in October. Peekel interviews forty television makers who all have one thing in common: their passion for television. It will be a series that is based on the last of the TV Monument, a program in which he portrays famous Dutch people since 2009. “The impact of television has always been great. According to scientific data, we watch an average of three hours and 22 minutes of television. That is more time than is spent on partners, children, or reading a good book. It is the starting point of this series: television as a roommate.”
Peekel asked Angela de Jong, television critic for this newspaper, for a spoken column and interviewed forty television enthusiasts. From Matthijs van Nieuwkerk, Fidan Ekiz and Koos Postema to Paul Römer, Humberto Tan and Paul de Leeuw.
And Peter R. de Vries. Just a month ago, he sat across from the crime reporter who died last week. ,,Peter cherished the television, it was his stage. Without, he said, he would never have been able to achieve so much,” said Peekel, who brought the interview with De Vries forward and broadcast it early. “As a tribute. Peter was an exceptional personality. A man of not talking, but doing.”
Peekel was at the funeral Carré. “I let my tears flow. I was so impressed with the speakers, his family, partner, son and daughter.”
Peter R de Vries will certainly return in the docuseries with the four-part in October. Peekel divides the series into four themes: TV as comforter, jester, storyteller and troublemaker. “When Swiebertje ate a piece of butter cake in Saartje’s kitchen, we had a friend join us. By comfort TV I also mean the love programs. The marriage broker, but also as a death counselor. Think of programs such as De Kist, Over My Dead Body, Life Before Death. As a jester we had Van Kooten and De Bie, Pisa, Kopnagels and now Even Till Here and Sunday with Lubach.”
In television as a storyteller, Peekel meets makers such as Simon Carmiggelt (De Kronkel), Ruben Terlou (about China), Özcan Akyol (about Turkey) and Matthijs van Nieuwkerk. ,,How Matthijs with De Wereld Draait Door succeeded in cultivating that coziness feeling without going soft. He deserves the honorary prize of the greatest television maker ever. Maarten Spanjer’s anecdote is legendary. He said at the table that Johan Cruijff had told him to watch DWDD regularly. Matthijs got up, walked around the table with a look in his eyes: God has seen me. Ten years later it turned out that Spanjer had invented the story. The moment remains magical.”
Television, Peekel argues, ‘is a constant stream of information, knowledge transfer, emotion, emotion and amazement. “Take the arrival of the victims of MH17 in Eindhoven. That huge procession of cars. Of course people can have that told or read in the newspaper. But the impact of the images is much greater.”
Do not approach Peekel with gloomy reflections that watching television is finite. “The newspaper has not disappeared. I’m not worried about the television. Young people also look at other media. Social media, YouTube, also a derivative of TV by the way, but why couldn’t they coexist? Paul de Leeuw said that his sons often check their phones. Until they get mad about it and still sit in front of a big screen again. And then there is that nostalgic moment again: watching TV together. The feeling of wet hair, chips and coke. That’s not going to go away.”
Peekel, savior of cultural heritage
Han Peekel is very proud of two things in his working life. The television maker was the initiator of the establishment of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision and in 1988 saved ’35 years of television history’, cultural heritage. “At the end of the eighties, the so-called Ampex tires seemed to crumble. They were scattered across the Media Park in Hilversum, but nobody cared about that. History played a big part in my working life. I was one of the first to use old fragments to tell new stories in programs. Tens of thousands of Ampex tapes, that was one hundred thousand hours of television. From Snip & Snap to the programs of Mies Bouwman. They couldn’t be lost, could they?”
Han Peekel approached Eelco Brinkman, Minister of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) and his top officials Harry Kramer and Kees Vis. “Legendary figures. They have meant so much. I had brought a VHS tape with me. It featured a film by Russian State Television about the quality of milk in the Netherlands in 1987. If they talked about Amsterdam there, they showed images of Copenhagen. The cows in the video came from Switzerland. If the tires are not preserved, this will be the future, I said.”
Peekel had to, he says, ‘shit like Brugman’, but convinced the top executives and was given 35 million, then still guilders, to digitize the whole thing (or have it digitized). “That amount was even physically in my account for a while. It made me so nervous that I transferred it to the NOS within fifteen minutes. A good friend later said: you should have kept it on your account for eight months. No one would have thought that strange. The interest was between 10 and 12 percent… but I was already happy that the tires had been saved.”
Calling on readers: which TV moment was special to you?
Han Peekel is also curious about your television story. At what point in your life was television your best friend? Did a certain fragment bring you comfort, the love of your life or was there another special moment that you will never forget? Han Peekel gives an example. “I gave a lecture in a retirement home. There, a 92-year-old woman told that one afternoon in 1962 she was about to give birth to her sixth child. On television they saw the legendary Open het Dorp, Mies Bouwman’s first 24-hour fundraising campaign. The midwife decided to give up her wages and the woman in question her savings that were actually intended for a new pram.”
If you have a story, mail it to email@example.com and also state your age and place of residence. Han Peekel would like to record your story and we would like to publish a selection of the most special stories in the run-up to the four-part docuseries.
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