The World: Insider's View - Netherlands

Advertisers scanning the Dutch autumn TV schedules will find a glut of reality shows - too many with tired-looking formats, Michiel Veugelers says.

Even before the big TV stations in The Netherlands present their programmes for the new season starting in September, we can already see some trends.

Talking to production companies and TV stations about some highlights of the new schedules, for non-spot opportunities for our clients, we know that there are going to be even more reality shows than ever before.

Next to the big talent shows such as Idols and Holland's Got Talent, and all sorts of other talent spin-offs, as well as the neverending range of reality soaps about everybody who is a bit famous over here, we see three trends in reality TV land.

The first one is Holland's "next top whatever". After four seasons of Holland's Next Top Model and the Dutch version of Project Runway, it seems all other professions will get their 15 minutes of fame.

Now stylists, hotel and bar managers, house builders and cooks will have their turn along with designers, models and bodybuilders.

Second, there will be a lot of copies of popular programmes about Dutch people who settle in a foreign country and try to rebuild their lives there. People who try, among other things, to set up a bed and breakfast establishment or renovate a hotel.

So Italy, France and other pleasant and sunny countries be warned: the Dutch are coming. How many communication and language problems, disappointments, red wine and sun on TV can you handle as a TV viewer in a rainy country?

The third trend is Big Brother to the max and beyond limits. Last season, there was a much talked-about reality show on Dutch TV produced by John de Mol, who brought Big Brother to the world.

In the show, The Golden Cage, people live like millionaires but can't leave their luxurious villa. The person who stays in the house the longest wins the villa and enough money to never work again.

The Dutch press dubbed it "the bully show", because contestants could win by bullying the competition out of the house.

And there was a lot of bullying going on, as well as a lot of swearing, sex and harassment. One contestant, nicknamed Terror Jaap, covered himself in his own puke.

Not surprisingly, some advertisers didn't want to be associated with the show and politicians claimed it had crossed all boundaries of taste.

The show was cancelled before anyone could win the villa, with the victor receiving EUR1 million. Since the ratings were good, though, a new season is being planned.

Discussions are also taking place with last season's contestants about formats for them to star in. Don't expect these shows to be very classy.

So, there's a lot of reality TV on its way, but not a lot of original and refreshing ideas to accompany it.

- Michiel Veugelers is the creative strategist at Universal Media in The Netherlands.

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