9 October 2008 | Chip_douglas
Too controversial even for the VPRO
Hoepla, the 1967 television magazine will forever be known for the distinction of broadcasting the first images of nudity on Dutch television, if not the world. Now I always assumed this programme had been a hit amongst VPRO viewers and the late sixties youth culture it was aimed at, but this turns out to be a falsehood. Only three episodes were broadcast, each one more controversial than the last and several items from these three and the entire fourth were rejected and shelved. The infamous female nudity (by 21 year old model Phil Bloom) caused the VPRO a lot of paying members (on which all the Dutch broadcasting companies thrive) and was even questioned in parliament.
All the VPRO wanted was to have a TV version of their competitor VARA's radio show 'Uitlaat', a youth orientated magazine by Wim de Bie and Co de Kloet. But De Bie wasn't ready to move over to the VPRO just yet and proposed to give poet/journalist Hans Verhagen a change at making television. Verhagen rounded up filmmaker Wim van der Linden and Fluxus artist Wim T. Schippers, who together became the driving force behind Hoepla, writing, recording and editing the bulk of the show's material. Journalist Tino Flothuis was also hired as an interviewer, though he would mostly end up working on his own items, including a budget gobbling trip to New York to interview his friend, author Jan Cremer. Because it was aimed at a twenty something audience, a lot of musical acts were booked, including the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. It was during a performance by Teddy Lee J early in the first episode that Phil Bloom first appeared, dressed only in a string of plastic flowers. Even though nothing explicit was visible, her brief exposure famously caused the VPRO to have 67 memberships canceled immediately.
Of course the Hoepla team grabbed the opportunity to go even further with their second show. This time Miss Bloom was filmed reading aloud a newspaper article about her very own controversy, then lowering the paper to reveal her nude bosom - over which the VPRO address was superimposed so potential membership cancelers wouldn't even have to look up the address. This image is what Hoepla is still recalled for today, and while most of the studio bound introductions and musical numbers (including the ones by Hendrix) have mostly been lost or wiped from existence, the second, most famous edition of Hoepla was the only one to be saved for posterity in it's entirety. What remains are a collection of interviews and items featuring a wide range of subjects and almost as many controversies. The trio of Hans, Wim & Wim took every opportunity to go against the grain, whether it was in selecting subjects (the VPRO objected to them interviewing people associated with the populist newspaper 'De Telegraaf') or editing (they purposely left in parts of the interviews in which the subjects asked for the camera to stop for a moment). An interview with drunken soldiers on a train caused another large controversy (the trio was even accused of supplying the soldiers with drinks) while items shot in an abattoir and a old age rest home were never broadcast on television.
Even before the fourth episode was finished and subsequently shelved, the Hoepla team was thinking of setting up a broadcasting collective of their own, to be named 'Eldorado'. But these plans soon proved to be a bit too time consuming. Hans Verhagen published a book on the making of the programme in 1968, while Wim T. Schippers would return to the VPRO as a celebrated TV and radio maker. Recently, a lot of the loose items were rediscovered in the VPRO archives, and for the 2008 DVD release reconstructions were assembled for episodes 1, 3 and even the never broadcast fourth, which was finally shown in Januari '08 on the digital channel /Geschiedenis. Having seen all that's left of all four show now, this reviewer must say it is wise-full to read up on the background of Hoepla (for instance in the handy dandy booklet that comes with the DVD) as opposed to just catching a repeat on digital TV by chance. Only when realizing what controversy came with which segment, can Hoepla be enjoyed forty years later.
8 out of 10