Television icons Jacques d’Ancona (86) and Henny Huisman (72) reunited. ‘Mastodonts? It’s all good’

As if time has stood still: Jacques d’Ancona (86) and Henny Huisman (72) sit side by side on Saturday evening in the new TV talent show Ranking The Talent on SBS6. “I think that historical research has been conducted, which has revealed me as a still living character.”

What kind of program is this, Jacques?

Ranking The Talent is a program with five variety and five singing performances. A total of ten acts of international allure, talents who already have a career. Their assessment lies with an audience jury of five hundred people, gathered in the ancient Aalsmeer studio, which has also been brought back to life. A special task, according to John de Mol for this new variant on an old format, is reserved for two couples of celebrities. They have to predict what the public jury will choose.”

And one of those couples is you and Henny Huisman?

“We are in the second episode, which will be broadcast on Saturday evening. The program started last week with Frits Barend and his daughter Barbara, among others. Our opponents are Jeangu Macrooy and Carolien Borgers, comedian and presenter on Radio 1.”

This is already the third program you have been in in a short time. How come?

“I think that historical research has been conducted, perhaps soil research, in which I emerged not as a skeleton, but as a still living character. That’s how I joined the Evangelische Omroep my flat country , in which Kefah Allush drove me in a car to the vast expanse of Groningen. A landscape that actually feels a bit suicidal in November, December and January, when the rapeseed and potato foliage are gone. Which, by the way, doesn’t bother me at all. But this is what it looks like. That plain and that mud, that wet black clay. I think that’s nice.”

And that other program?

“That was Hotel Hollandia by Paul de Leeuw. They thought of me there because it was referee’s day and I have been a football referee for 22 years. Paul asked: ‘Have you also whistled for women?’ I say, ‘Paul, please. That wasn’t the case in my time.’ Just to be on the safe side, I brought a yellow card with me and I showed it to him. It was no different. If you ask for it, you will get it.”

Luckily no red.

“No no no. I didn’t have that with me either. I knew in advance: we’re not going to do that. That would be too bland.”

You became known in the 1980s as a critical jury chairman in the ‘Soundmixshow’ presented by Henny Huisman. In ‘Ranking The Talent’ the audience determines the winner. Isn’t that difficult?

“Oh no, not at all. We did give our comments and they made some cuts. I found Johnny de Mol to be an extremely sympathetic and strong presenter. I think he referred to us as mastodons. Well, that’s allowed. Of course, as a referee I have already learned to accept what people think of you. When I was still in the Soundmix show was busy, sometimes boxes full of mail arrived. Now there are apps and Instagrams and you name it . It’s all good.”

I can imagine that sometimes you long for those days.

“I have a strong feeling that I am living in the present. I am active for the newspaper. I am active for FC Groningen, as a host in the Arjen Robben lounge. Very tasty, very nice. And still the occasional presentation. A book, a text. Very strange. It hasn’t leveled off yet.”

And soon a renewed TV career.

“I realize that people under 30 absolutely do not know me. I also know that I am not only getting older, but also stiffer. It’s harder for me to walk, I can’t cover distances. But nowadays I just ask: can you pick me up and drop me off? There is a budget for this in Hilversum and Aalsmeer. There is even a media taxi company located at the Mediapark. I had never done that before, but now I am sufficiently convinced of my own weaknesses.”

So just keep going.

“This week I sat with comedian Merijn Scholten in the Stadsschouwburg to see how he handles the new times. Whether I go along with that, whether I understand it. There was an audience in the hall of which only a small category recognizes me. Even then, people sometimes ask for a selfie. To that question I answer: ‘Does that make it more fun?’ And then they say: ‘Yes’. Well, then let’s do that, right?


Ranking The Talent can be seen on Saturday at 8 p.m. on SBS6.