Pages

12 March 2017

Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017)

Last Tuesday, 7 March 2017, Dutch TV and film producer Thijs Chanowski has passed away in a hospital in Alkmaar, The Netherlands. Chanowski was a versatile television producer, responsible for such classic children's TV shows like De Fabeltjekrant (The Fables Newspaper, 1968) and Paulus de Boskabouter (Paulus the woodgnome, 1974). He received several awards for his TV and film work and was always looking for technical innovations. Chanowski was 86.

Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): De Fabeltjeskrant, Meneer de Uil 3-D
Dutch postcard by Sales Promotion Europe, Breda, 1969. Photo: M.M. Chanowksi Productions. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Meneer de Uil (Mr. Owl) is a character from Chanowski's long-running Dutch puppetry TV series Fabeltjeskrant/The Fables Newspaper (Cock Andreoli, 1968-1992). Mr. Owl also appeared in the feature film Onkruidzaaiers in Fabeltjesland/Weedsowers in Fableland (Cock Andreoli, 1970).

Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): De Fabeltjeskrant, Juffrouw Ooievaar
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam / Vita Nova, Schiedam. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Juffrouw Ooievaar (Miss Stork).

Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): Paulus de Boskabouter
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, Rotterdam / Antwerpen, no. 05/1312. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions / Televideo Holland BV, Naarden. Publicity still for the TV series Paulus de Boskabouter/Paulus the woodgnome (1974).

The Fables Newspaper


Thijs Chanowski was born in 1930 in Hamburg, Germany. His father was White-Russian, his mother Dutch. He started his career as a jazz bass player, and worked especially in France where he performed with soloists as saxophonist Don Byas and violinist Stéphane Grappelli.

Through control and production work in the music industry, he came increasingly into contact with engineers, graphic artists and set designers. In the early 1960s, he founded his own production company, which quickly showed a particular interest for new recording techniques.

In Amsterdam, Thijs Chanowski met two British puppet makers and this inspired him to make a TV series with puppets for children. In 1968, he began the production of the long-running Dutch puppet-animation TV series Fabeltjeskrant/The Fables Newspaper (Cock Andreoli, 1968-1992) with scripts by Leen Valkenier. Chanowski produced the first twelve episodes; the following 1600 episodes were produced by others.

De Fabeltjeskrant was a daily recurring short programme of 4-5 minutes. Each episode was based upon fables by Jean de La Fontaine, Aesop, Phaedrus and also by the series' scriptwriter Leen Valkenier. The main character, the owl Meneer de Uil (Mr. Owl) sitting upon a tree, introduces each episode by reading a story from The Fables Newspaper to the other characters. The scene is a forest inhabited by different anthropomorphic paper animals.

Over time, the series was broadcast on the Dutch channels NOS, RTL 4 and RTL 8 and on Belgian channel VRT. From 1973 to 1975 it was broadcast also in the United Kingdom, on ITV, with the title The Daily Fable. In Europe, it was also on TV in France as Le petit écho de la Forêt/The Little Echo of the Forest, in Hungary as Fabulácskahírek/The Fables Newspaper, in Italy as Il bosco dei perché/The Wood of the Questions, in Norway as Fablenes bok/The book of Fables, and Sweden as Fablernas värld/World of Fables.

Chanowksi also produced a feature film, Onkruidzaaiers in Fabeltjesland/Weedsowers in Fableland (Cock Andreoli, 1970). In 2005 Fabeltjeskrant was voted Best Children's Programme of All Times in the Netherlands.

Fabeltjeskrant, Meneer de Uil
Dutch postcard by Vita Nova, Hank (N.B.). Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Caption: Mr. Owl.

Fabeltjeskrant, Zoef de Haas
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V. (Sparo), Rotterdam. Photo: M.M. Chanowksi Productions, 1969. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Caption: Zoef the Dare.

Fabeltjeskrant, Ed en Willem Bever
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam. Photo: M.M. Chanowksi Productions, 1969. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Caption: Ed and Willem Beaver.

Fabeltjeskrant, Bor de Wolf
Dutch postcard by MUVA, Valkenburg. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Caption: Bor the Wolf.

Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): De Fabeltjeskrant
Dutch postcard by MUVA, Valkenburg. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968).

Paulus the Woodgnome


Another popular puppetry TV series was Chanowksi's Paulus de boskabouter/Paulus the woodgnome (1974). It was based on a long-running Dutch newspaper comic strip, created by Jan van Oort (pseudonym Jean Dulieu), which ran between 1946 and 1984. Paulus was translated into German, English, Swedish and Japanese. The popularity of the comic strip inspired a series of children's novels, a radio series and two television puppet series.

Paulus is a nice, good natured wood gnome who is a friend of all nature and enjoys to smoke a pipe now and then. His friends are Oehoeboeroe (pronounced: "Oohoobooroo") the owl, Salomo the raven and Gregorius the badger. His archenemy is the witch Eucalypta and her assistant Krakras, a soup chicken.

From October 1967 till the end of December 1968, Paulus de boskabouter was made into a puppet series for VARA television. Jean Dulieu made all the puppets himself and also provided the voices. Fred Bosman was the director. The series was exported to the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Australia. The British dub was narrated by Arthur Lowe and broadcast on ITV.

From the end of September 1974, until the end of May 1975, a new puppet TV series about Paulus, now produced by Thijs Chanowksi, was broadcasted. This time the puppets were made by the Brothers Slabbers and the voices were done by professional actors, such as Elsje Scherjon, Frans van Dusschoten and Ger Smit, who also worked for De Fabeltjeskrant. Leen Valkenier wrote the scripts.

Later Chanowksi produced some feature films, including two with the theatre collective Het Werktheater. These films were Toestanden [States] (Thijs Chanowski, 1976), which won the Prix Italia, the renowned Italian TV award, and the comedy Camping (Thijs Chanowski, 1978).

Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): Paulus de Boskabouter
Dutch postcard by Sales Promotion Spits BV, Blaricum.. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions. Publicity still for the TV series Paulus de Boskabouter/Paulus the woodgnome (1974) with Krakas, Robot Boeli and Eucalypta.

Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): Paulus de Boskabouter
Dutch postcard by Sales Promotion Spits BV, Blaricum. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions. Publicity still for the TV series Paulus de Boskabouter/Paulus the woodgnome (1974) with left Salomo and right Oehoeboeroe.

Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): Paulus de Boskabouter
Dutch postcard by Sales Promotion Spits BV, Blaricum. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions. Publicity still for the TV series Paulus de Boskabouter/Paulus the woodgnome (1974) with from left: Stien de goede fee ( the good fairy), Oehoeboeroe de wijze uil (the wise owl), and Salomon de raaf (the raven

Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): Paulus de Boskabouter
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, Rotterdam / Antwerpen, no. 05/1311. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions / Televideo Holland BV, Naarden. Publicity still for the TV series Paulus de Boskabouter/Paulus the woodgnome (1974).

Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): Paulus de Boskabouter
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, Rotterdam / Antwerpen, no. 05/1313. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions / Televideo Holland BV, Naarden. Publicity still for the TV series Paulus de Boskabouter/Paulus the woodgnome (1974).

Endowed professor


From an early age, Thijs Chanowski was interested in technology in which he saw infinite possibilities and he frequently experimented with technology in his TV and film productions.

After his TV work ended in the 1980s, he worked as an entrepreneur and researcher with technology companies such as Philips on the development of the laser disc and the chroma-key. Chroma-key compositing is a post-production technique for merging two images or video streams together based on color hues.

In 1990, Chanowksi founded his own multimedia lab, which focused on 'knowledge mining'. This company developed the Aqua-browser, an 'intuitive' search engine that works with word association instead of word matches. Chanowski remained director when the company was acquired by software company BSO as 'BSO Media Lab.' Later, he bought the company back.

From 1995 to 2000 Chanowski was endowed professor Multimedia Interaction at the University of Amsterdam. Later he worked on a project for young children in third world countries to learn a language (English), without having to use their own language.

Thijs Chanowski lived in Bergen, The Netherlands. On 7 March 2017, he died in a hospital in Alkmaar. He was 86.

Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): De Fabeltjeskrant, Meneer de Uil
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968) Caption: Mr. Owl.

Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): De Fabeltjeskrant, Gezusters Hamster
Big Dutch postcard by M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969,presented by FINA benzine stations, no. 11. Photo: publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Caption: the Hamster Sisters.

Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): De Fabeltjeskrant, Droes de Beer
Big Dutch postcard by M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969,presented by FINA benzine stations, no. 12. Photo: publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Caption: Droes the Bear.

Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): De Fabeltjeskrant, Truus de Mier
Big Dutch postcard by M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969,presented by FINA benzine stations, no. 13. Photo: publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Caption: Truus the Ant.

Thijs Chanowski (1930-2017): De Fabeltjeskrant
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969. Publicity still for De Fabeltjekrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968). Caption: Hektor and Mr. Raven.

Sources: Iñaki Oñorbe Genovesi (De Volkskrant - Dutch), De Telegraaf (Dutch), Wikipedia (Dutch and English), and IMDb.

3 comments:

Bunched Undies said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bunched Undies said...

I had not heard of him before. It looks like he brought joy to kids' lives. RIP

Paul van Yperen said...

Yes, he was a typical European phenomenon, best known for De Fabeltjeskrant, which is a true original classic for kids. But also his films for grown-ups with De Werktheater, especially Toestanden, are also innovative and really interesting.