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Just a Guest is justified summer hit: listening always makes people interesting

I held my heart. Patrick Nederkoorn and Oscar Kocken had been tempted by television to bring their brilliant gem 'Zomaargasten' over to the living room. NPO3 still. The channel targeting millennials. I had visions of channel managers, dramaturgs, audience specialists and young boys and girls well over forty who would teach these two artists what it is to make television. Too often, nice ideas have been smothered in soggy formats. Even more often, we saw sleazy BN'ers looking for a second youth in someone else's idea. Too often I saw uber-fast editing only make a once fun idea more soporific.

When it became clear that not Patrick Nederkoorn and Oscar Kocken would alternate as interviewers, but a constantly new BN'er with appeal to the target audience, I became depressed. I didn't expect the TV specialists in Hilversum to kill a nice theatre idea so quickly. Because that approach by Nederkoorn and Kocken was precisely the charm of the theatre programme.

Festival Boulevard

I first saw them in a small tent at Festival Boulevard in Den Bosch and was immediately sold. Oscar Kocken is a kind of elusive boyband-star cum ideal son-in-law with a mischievous twist you would wish on any parent. He has already worked wonders with the equally elusive Greg Nottrot of the Nieuw Utrechts Toneel and The Order of the Day. Now he also managed to secure Patrick Nederkoorn, certainly not entirely unjustly nominated for the highest cabaret award in the Netherlands. The two proved to be a golden combo.

Together, they created an atmosphere around their tent where people at such a festival quickly drop all reservations. The show is wonderfully wooden. One interviews an unknown guest from the audience, while the other via speedgoogling conjures the corresponding (sometimes not at all) images on a projection screen. The intimacy of the tent created security, the genuine awkwardness and genuine interest of the two hosts did the rest. The guests actually just always turn out to be interesting all by themselves. Because, after all, people always turn out to be interesting when you take a moment to listen to them.


The first broadcast of the TV version of Zomaargasten did not immediately excite me. Apart from the fact that the programme had been renamed 'Just a guest', because apparently there is something about name claims and confusion with its big brother Zomergasten. Big things that the brats Kocken and Nederkoorn don't care about.

The hostess was not too bad. The guests weren't. Actress Rifka Lodeizen came a hell of a long way beyond her own vanity. She got well into the uncertainty of the spontaneous programme. The guests, however, all fell into the millennial category. And so none of them have yet had the time, or the need, to live, or build, a special life. Hence, the editing was rushed, the guests were quickly eliminated and, as far as I was concerned, the strength of the theatrical version was still not achieved.

Live atmosphere

Episodes 2 and 3, however, completely made up for that lack. There was more calm in the editing, the guests were asked better questions, had also lived more. Between the quick interviews, the makers took the time to show the context: a summer festival with its own audience, its own loose atmosphere. Just a Guest thereby managed to do what few theatre adaptations have been given: it transferred the power of live theatre at a summer festival to the flat environment of the picture tube. It actually makes you want to go to such a festival.

A question remains as to why it was necessary to fly in these BN stars. Kocken and Nederkoorn are by themselves disarming and seasoned enough to carry the programme. It seems as if the television team is giving that more and more space too. The flown-in BNs are increasingly becoming guinea pigs themselves. On Wednesday 5 July, Imanuelle Grives showed herself to be a grateful guest and a disarmingly spontaneous interviewer. Actually much nicer than the guest-host of 4 July, although Tex de Wit revealed himself to be an excellent improvising journalist during the interviews.


In fact, with the upward trend of the first three episodes, it can only get even better. You would almost hope that we get the wettest summer ever these three weeks, so that we can stay home to watch warmly on the sofa every working day at 10 o'clock in the evening to Just a guest to watch.

Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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