‘A labrador in a world of pitbull’

Anne Barnhoorn.Picture Daniel Cohen

What’s the perfect name for the main character in a new comedy series about – to quote from the description – ‘the most sincere man you’ve ever met’? Also known as: ‘A man with only good intentions, who is always there for everyone.’ Slightly lobbying, naive and somehow annoying type, played by Diederik Ebbinge who constantly does well but meets poorly. He has just been divorced, has two teenage daughters, a job, volunteer work and all sorts of people around him taking care of him.

Its creator, screenwriter Anne Barnhoorn (39), has long discussed it with Ebbinge, director Jonathan Herman and her friend Boudewijn Rosenmuller, who co-produced the series: what do you call one? ‘For a long time. And just pump names. ‘

Could Jos also be called Henk?

‘New. no offence for all the people named Henk, but that name has a slightly different meaning. ‘ Laughs: ‘My real father’s name is Henk. The names Jos and Henk both have something gentle, but with Henk I get the feeling of someone who … leans back a little, or something? Jos sounds a little firmer. firmer. ‘


“We considered, but we thought Hans was too ordinary. There are so many Hansen. ‘


“Too jovial.”


‘Just not stupid enough. Berend and Bert passed by. And we talked about Frank for a while, also because “frank” in English means honest and sincere. But I also thought about the description people would read in the TV guide. Well, then I think the name Jos stimulates the curiosity just a little bit more. ‘

Jos, that’s the name of the goodness itself, and that’s also the name of the series about him. Will he take it, all the people pulling at him, or is it once again enough? working there jos in ten episodes, with all the comedy and drama it brings.

Anne Barnhoorn has previously written the scripts for the films The Defloration of the Eve of End and mud crusherfor which she won a golden calf, and episodes for series such as from GodFathers day, The rules of the floor and Camp Cookie.

Jos was originally named Nico in the script after his stepfather, on whom Barnhoorn based his character. She was in Australia with her boyfriend in 2018 when the idea suddenly occurred to her. ‘My stepfather had a severe heart attack, was in a coma and had kind of given up. It should probably become a greenhouse plant, but against everyone’s expectations, it has come back completely. During the rehabilitation process, I started looking at him with different eyes. I had never seen anyone with so much resilience and positivity, still full of interest in everyone around him while he himself was stripped to a bed. Sometimes you suddenly see someone for who he is, and it happened here. ”

She describes him as ‘a sweet, funny, sometimes a little special man’. ‘He can be nervous about nothing, has the traits that make us say: oh yeah, that’s typically Nico. He does not let you finish, has treats about everything. Chatting with him for an hour can make you, well, pretty tired. But he is also a man who always operates without ulterior motives, not of self-interest, who will always do good for the world and its surroundings. I see him as a golden light in these times where people seem so eager to make each other’s heads smaller and eat the cheese of each other’s bread.

‘I saw the picture of a labrador in a world of pitbulls. Jos is a constant line of good and all the characters around him want something from him except his daughter Claire. Just by being so thoroughly good and naive, he bites himself in the tail. It was very windy that day in Australia, we were stuck in our house. I opened my laptop and wrote the format exactly as it is now on TV. ‘

Does the long consideration of such a name symbolize how close your work is to details?

‘Yes of course. With all his good intentions, Jos sometimes says the wrong or the wrong thing. We also talked a lot about that. In earlier versions of the script, Jos often expressed himself in an unintentionally stereotypical way. I made him say stereotypical things or address people in a stereotypical way. In the Thai massage parlor, he automatically starts in English, and the lady responds in nice ABN. He’s such a man, someone who does not mean anything bad by it, but does not quite keep up with the times, is not completely up-to-date with the he-her-them question.

While he has a daughter who was born as a son.

‘I came up with it in the first place because I imagined Jos as an emotionally underdeveloped man. I would complicate it for him and show him how he handles such a sensitive event, with all his incompetence.

‘But in the script, she ended up being born as a boy, being much more given than anything that creates drama: it’s absolutely right, no one cares about that. I think it’s much more appropriate for this time. That Jos is sometimes inadvertently a little politically incorrect became a little here and there Too much. I scaled it back for feeling. It is complicated to let someone with the best of intentions be politically incorrect, because it can easily seem wrong. Like: but you say it so you’re just an asshole. ‘

Anne Barnhoorn.  Picture Daniel Cohen

Anne Barnhoorn.Picture Daniel Cohen

How is your stepfather modeling for Jos?

“He feels honored. From the moment I told him about my idea, all he did was ‘This can be in the series!’ I have something for you again. I once asked him if he was not scared, if he was not nervous. Then he replied, “No, if you can not laugh at yourself, you will miss the joke of the century.” That statement came naturally.

‘I have also incorporated quotes from him in previous works. IN The Defloration of the Eve of End is something of him, in mud crusher also. I see jos as an ode to him and this type of people. What I think is funny: more people who have something of jos have read or seen, say that Jos is also very reminiscent of their father – especially women. ‘

Has Nico already seen the result?

‘No, but he read along. He liked it and he was also relieved that he recognized things about himself but did not recognize himself. His work in the series is different, the family composition is different, how he handles his children, with his ex-wife. Other things match. For example, like Jos, he is active as a volunteer, he has also corresponded with Thai prisoners for years. And the story of the albino … – can you say albino? ‘

Is it allowed in your manuscript?

‘… in the series, Jos has something to do with it, just like my stepfather.’

What makes Diederik Ebbinge the ultimate Jos?

“Even before I started writing paragraphs, I brought in Diederik. He was with lusemoderen very hot and I hoped he was with jos again would show something else of itself. A kind of Adam Sandler idea; who was best known for romantic comedies until he played a fantastically serious role in Punch-Drunk Lovejos is a comedy, but also a drama series. Many of the comic scenes are painful and loaded with emotion.

‘Diederik is physically a great presence, but he also has something vulnerable in his face. When Jos ruins the birthday party for one of his daughters, so many pathetic things happen in his face and it makes you think: oh god, it’s really sad for him too. Or: it actually is mainly sad for him. Jos starts out as an underdog, but my intention is for him to get more into your heart for each episode. ‘

How do you place him among the other characters in your oeuvre?

“I’ve tried to make all the characters in the series ambiguous. Episode 5 is about Ineke, Jos’ ex-wife. Until then, we only have her as pure evil seen, but then we also see her other side. No one is just bad or good, all people are always gray, and we usually have no idea how to deal with discomfort. In my work, it’s often about people who are full of impotence: help, I live, what the hellwhat do I need, what can I hold on to? ‘

Who finally came up with that name?

laughs. ‘Who do you think? I quickly got his last name. Jos Meulemans. Totally happy with it. ‘

Jos can be seen every Sunday from May 22 at Avrotros at 9.10 pm on NPO 3.


Press related to jos: the acclaimed Swedish tragicomedy Gösta, which was released by NPO in 2021 and can be viewed on NPO Plus. IN Gösta it is a child psychologist in his late twenties who pushes the boundaries of his own goodness after starting his first job in a small village. He will always be sweet and help everyone who crosses his path, but the question is whether it can be kept. Spoiler alarm: no.

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