“When we are rid of the virus, I will disappear from TV.” (Veronica MagazineMay 2021.)
‘No more talk shows, great!’ (BNR news radioJune 2021.)
‘If people think I wanted to be on TV out of vanity, then you don’t really know me. I really don’t need to become a well-known Dutchman.’ (NRCOctober 2021.)
Ah, that sweet, good Diederik Gommers. The man who suddenly became a general practitioner during the pandemic, eagerly sniffed the scent of the spotlights, and only left his talk show seat when Ab Osterhaus and Marion Koopmans trumped him. But Gommers himself did not want that at all. An existence in the spotlight was useful, but becoming a famous Dutchman? No, absolutely not!
Of course it is addictive to vent every evening to Charles Groenhuijsen or Eva Jinek. But you can get rid of such an addiction, with a lot of distraction and the right guidance. But a year later you can suddenly find yourself on a lousy mattress in an Albanian mountain hut, after you have overcome dangerous roads for a TV program with Emma Wortelboer by your side. Michael Corleone once said it aptly The Godfather III: ‘Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.‘
Gommers and Wortelboer were the protagonists in the season opener of The most dangerous roads in the world, a program in which a jolly duo talk about life while driving on ‘perilous’ foreign mountain roads. It never really gets dangerous: the format mainly floats on the duos and conversations. In between you will get some background and history of the country in question.
I’ve always loved this wonderfully meaningless format, actually ever since the episode in which Patty Brard and Richard Groenendijk broke down on the side of the road in Sri Lanka. The episode with Gommers and Wortelboer – who traveled through Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro – did not disappoint either. Gommers had never been to Kosovo, but his first impression was ‘impressive’. Wortelboer knew nothing about the country, because ‘they never participated in the Eurovision Song Contest’.
The climax came quickly, when Wortelboer asked Gommers how he dealt with his sudden fame. Wortelboer: ‘You enjoyed it and seized the opportunity to make it your own, didn’t you?’ Gommers: ‘I didn’t become a celebrity to become a celebrity. That happened by chance in an exceptional situation. Now the question is: should you stay famous? Not really, but people are so very nice to me!’
This is the Gommers paradox at its best: someone breaks through, enjoys the spotlight, and then cannot live without it. In that car on a perilous Kosovar road, we saw a man caught between two evils: to keep participating, or to drop out for good in the rat race of fame. Diederik Gommers: the ultimate celebrity against will and many thanks.