De slimste title
The first series of De slimste mens was won by Alain Grootaers (pictured), a former TV journalist and comic commentator, who now lives near Malaga in Andalucia, from where he takes off on regular world trips with his wife and daughter. Has winning the show brought him untold success?
“In Flanders people don’t like smart people, otherwise we wouldn’t have the politicians we’re stuck with,” he tells me. “So when you win the show, everybody really hates you and smirks in cafés that you’re not as smart as you think you are. Some people really do think that you actually believe yourself that you’re the ‘smartest person in the world’. It’s just a silly show, with probably the smartest name in the history of game shows. If it weren’t for the show, I would still be living in the south of Spain, but I would be having wine and tapas now, instead of answering your questions.”
In De Slimste Mens, politicians play against sports personalities and journalists, comedians and actors. Above all, there’s a high level of public participation. Perhaps the show could be turned into a new forum for democracy?
“Good idea,” agrees Grootaers. “Let’s make the winner of the show prime minister. It can’t get worse than Leterme, and certainly would be a lot funnier.”
But people from certain professions never seems to take part. No scientists, doctors or top businessmen. On the other hand, there are plenty of journalists and politicians.
“I call De slimste mens ideal for idiot-savants, and a lot of them seem to be journalists,” notes Grootaers. “I think most scientists are way too smart to read the papers or bother to memorise the capital of Madagascar. That’s Antananarivo. It’s stronger than me, sorry about that.”