Drenthe brothers bring Wie is de Mol? in the picture: ‘You carry a big secret with you’

Millions of Dutch people have been busy since last weekend with the question: Who is the mole? Instructions enter the living rooms through the lens and microphone of two brothers from Ruinerwold.

2.6 million people watched the craftsmanship of Lennart and Wendel Nooren last Saturday, probably without knowing it. “We don’t really think about it,” says drone pilot Wendel from behind his parents’ kitchen table in Ruinerwold. He mainly looks at the way in which his rotated images are processed. He is a member of the crew of the popular AvroTros program for the seventeenth season, in which candidates have to unmask the saboteur in their midst.

Wendel’s brother Lennart has also been part of the crew for a few years now. He only really realized how popular the game show is when he was watching his own recordings between the ‘Molloten’. “When I first went to the Vondelpark to watch the final, I saw: there are a lot of people here. Then it only came in. Because 2.6 million, you see that number, but you don’t notice it much.”

“I didn’t know the program”

The brothers are pretty much born with a camera in their hand. Father Frans runs a camera shop in Meppel, which is now owned by a third brother. It is therefore no surprise that the Ruinerwolders opt for an audiovisual career. From Heel Holland Bakt to the Friends of Amstel Live and from Campinglife to a live recording of a Coldplay concert in Buenos Aires; the brothers are building an impressive resume.

With an unexpected phone call in 2008, the Wie is de Mol? adventure begins. Or rather, a lot of phone calls. Because when the then 21-year-old Wendel picks up his phone after a night of sports, he sees that there are a lot of missed calls. “Would you like to go to Mexico tonight to replace a sound engineer,” is the question when he calls back. “I was perplexed, I didn’t know the program.”

The next morning, Wendel is on set in Cancun. Between the boats, under a flying helicopter. “That was a bit unreal. On location I got hold of a mixer and they said: you have to follow those two candidates. Go ahead.”


As a soundman, Wendel becomes a permanent force behind the scenes, the same goes for the drone. When there is some dissatisfaction with the drone pilot, Wendel lets slip at a prom that he is willing to take care of the drone images. Wendel: “Six months later, the director calls: ‘Remember what you said last year? I would like you to fly a drone next year’. For six months I practiced every day with a drone.”

Circles above the meadows, around lampposts, under bridges, following cars. The director becomes enthusiastic and when the game program moves to the United States in 2017, the Drent is responsible for the drone images. Then Lennart also appears on the scene. “An audio spot became available, so then I threw my brother to the lions. America was special.”

The meadows and lampposts have been exchanged for rugged landscapes and beautiful cities in Georgia, China and most recently South Africa. “You get the best shots if you take a little risk, if you go close to the rock walls or over the trees,” he says. “Then it may be that you just grab a tree or don’t see a branch.” According to the cameraman, it is not a question of if, but when things go wrong. “And if it falls, it falls well. Then you do more damage than a camera falling off a tripod.”

He is well insured for this, and the director is also sometimes satisfied with less spectacle. “Last episode in South Africa everyone started in a wooden box”, Wendel looks back on last weekend. “Then I’m going to all those locations at the front and taking drone shots before the assignment actually starts. My job is always to visit a whole laundry list of locations.”

Small and large team

While Wendel goes about his business and continues his drone flying skills, Lennart starts in ‘the small team’. “The small team is constantly with the candidates, you also sleep in the same hotel. You are at the breakfast scene, between the assignments, through the reality and the confession in the hotel.” After two years he switches to the big team. “They do all the assignments, tests and executions. The large team sleeps elsewhere, so if you are having breakfast and want to do the directing discussion, you can do so quietly, because there are no candidates,” he gives an insight into the creative process.

Because the crew is of course not allowed to accidentally reveal anything about the course of the game. “These are always cool locations and it’s exciting. You carry a big secret with you, which many people in the Netherlands also want to know,” says Lennard, who says he can now handle it well.