19 September 2012

Fabeltjeskrant (Ger Smit)

Bor the Wolf is a character from the Dutch puppetry TV series Fabeltjeskrant/The Fables Newspaper (1968 - 1973, Cock Andreoli; 1985 - 1992). Unlike his fellow wolves, Bor is a peaceful and emotional animal. He is known for his distinctive, howling roar that precedes many of his statements. Bor also had a central role in the feature film Onkruidzaaiers in Fabeltjesland/Weedsowers in Fableland (1970, Cock Andreoli) when all the animals are off on their annual picnic, except for Bor. And just then, an army of termites invades the peaceful forest. Dutch voice actor Ger Smit (1933 - 2012) gave Bor his voice. Smit died earlier this week, at 14 September in Vorden, The Netherlands. Today he will be buried in Amsterdam.

Fabeltjeskrant, Bor de Wolf
Bor de Wolf. Dutch postcard by MUVA, Valkenburg. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969.

Ger Smit
In the original Dutch version, Ger Smit also dubbed other popular animals of Fabeltjeskrant such as Ed Bever (Ed the Beaver), Lowieke de Vos (Little Louis the Fox) and Zoef de Haas (Zoef the Hare). The other main voice actors of the series were Frans van Dusschoten and Elsje Scherjon. Smit acted earlier in the legendary Dutch youth series Mik-Mak (1962-1963, Guus Verstraete). Donald Jones as Mik and Smit as Mak were two tramps dressed as sailors. Later he was seen in films like Paul Verhoeven's successful feature film debut Wat zien ik/Business is Business (1971, Paul Verhoeven) and on television in the popular soap series Goede tijden, slechte tijden/Good Times Bad Times (1994-1999). As a voice actor, he also worked on Dutch versions of animation series like Sesamstraat/Sesame Street, Lucky Luke and De Smurfen/Smurfs. Ger Smit was 79.

Fabeltjeskrant, Ed en Willem Bever
Ed en Willem Bever. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam. Photo: M.M. Chanowksi Productions, 1969.

Fabeltjeskrant, Zoef de Haas
Zoef de Haas. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V. (Sparo), Rotterdam. Photo: M.M. Chanowksi Productions, 1969.

The Fables NewspaperFabeltjeskrant (or De Fabeltjeskrant, Dutch for The Fables Newspaper) is a Dutch children's television series featuring puppetry and stop motion. Created in 1968 by Leen Valkenier and produced by Thijs Chanowski (1st series) and Loek de Levita (2nd series), it ended in 1992 (some sources say 1989) and was broadcast on the Dutch channels NTS (now NOS), RTL 4 and RTL 8 and on Belgian channel VRT. Internationally, the series was also a success and was shown in more than 40 countries. From 1973 to 1975 it was broadcast in the United Kingdom, on ITV, with the title The Daily Fable. In Europe, it could also be seen 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 in Sweden as Fablernas värld/World of Fables.

Fabeltjeskrant, Meneer de Uil
Meneer de Uil. Dutch postcard by Vita Nova, Hank (N.B.) Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969.

Dutch postcard by MUVA, Valkenburg. Photo: M.M. Chanowski Productions, 1969.

The Show Everyone Watched And KnewFabeltjeskrant was a daily recurring short program of 4 - 5 minutes. Each episode is based upon fables of Jean de La Fontaine, Aesop, Phaedrus and also by the series' scenographer Leen Valkenier. The main character, the owl Meneer de Uil (Mr. Owl), introduces each episode reading a fable to other characters upon a tree. The scene is a forest inhabited by different antropomorphic paper. In 2005 Fabeltjeskrant was voted Best Children's Program of All Time in the Netherlands. At IMDb, Charmed Margeaux writes: "The fabeltjeskrant was like, the show everyone watched and knew. It has been showed to a few generations, and you won't find a single Belgian or Dutch person who hasn't seen at least a minute of this show. I grew up with it, but so did my brothers, and that's not so normal since they are 8 and 12 years older than me, and we all enjoyed it. Now, reruns are being shown on some stations and I think it's one of the best shows for little children, even now you have really soffisticated ones, I assure you, they'll love it!"

An episode of De Fabeltjeskrant: Bor becomes a poet (Sorry, in Dutch. But with the voice of Ger Smit.) Source: Fabeltjeskanaal (YouTube).

Sources: Charmed Margeaux (IMDb), Eindhovens Dagblad (Dutch), Wikipedia (English and Dutch) and IMDb.

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