TV review | André van Duin celebrates carnival with a polonaise that you can eat

When construction worker Sjon from Groesbeek recovered after a major heart operation, he still had one wish: to become Carnival Prince. The short documentary The secret of carnival (NPO 1) follows the pretender in the days before his accession to the throne. He practices his acceptance speech in front of the bedroom mirror and is fitted for his uniform.

The public broadcaster wants more ties with the regions outside the Randstad, so there is a lot of attention for carnival this year, in collaboration with regional broadcasters. Last week you had the report series Carnival heart. Two more parts of the concert registration will follow this week Stars NL Carnival and the report of the parades on Tuesday.

Radio DJ Rob Janssen has set himself up as a carnival ambassador in Hilversum. With his colleague Wijnand Speelman, he heralded the carnival on Saturday with a festive music evening in Tilburg: Rob & Wijnand Carnival Countdown (NPO 3). Prince John III of Kruikenstad gave the starting signal. Then a selection of artists performed, Huub Hangop, Trio Zandvrees, Pap en Pudding. Rob Janssen himself performed as Lamme Frans. The costumed partygoers in the room looked happy, hosting and swaying to traditional carnival music, but there was also room for some ballads and hardstyle from DJ Tommy Santo.

It’s not beautiful, but it is ugly. Maybe it helps if you are in the audience, dressed up and fueled up, but I could only watch it on TV with horror. I am also a northerner. That is a well-known aspect of the festival: in Limburg, Brabant, Twente and Gelderland, carnival is an important part of the culture in which the residents place a lot of creative power and local pride. The rest of the country doesn’t understand what makes them tick.

Nuns’ Votes

André van Duin has made many carnival hits (There is a horse in the hallway, I have very large cauliflower) but in All of Holland Bakt (NPO 1) he confides to the amateur pastry chefs that he has nothing to do with carnival. Nor do most of the participants – “that music is so bad,” says Pien – but ‘carnival’ is the theme of the broadcast, so they bravely prepare carnival dishes: sausage rolls, nunvotten (doughnut-like rolls) and polonaises (meringues with fruit).

Traditional dishes that don’t require much tinkering, but it’s a competition, so they give the sausage rolls an Asian twist. Judging by the green, sunny surroundings and the complaints about the heat, this episode was made in the summer, far from carnival. It is wonderfully quiet in the tent, despite the baking stress. It is nice that there is hardly any carnival music. Andre van Duin continues to hold two cauliflowers against his chest.

Back to Prince Sjon from Groesbeek. His predecessor and his entourage explain what the party means. It brings the community together, ranks and positions do not count. “Then you can finally act crazy without being judged. You can be someone you secretly want to be.”

Groesbeek is not allowed to know in advance who the prince will be. To convey the mystery somewhat, directors Barbara de Baare and Tamino Parren only partially see the new prince: a blurred reflection, the back of his head, half of his face. Sjon hardly gets to speak either. Only when he is crowned do they reveal him completely. Nice stylistic device, but the disadvantage is that the main character remains a shadowy figure. According to those close to him, Sjon is “a party animal” but also a “sensitive prince”. And what is so important about becoming a Carnival prince? As a northerner you keep guessing.