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TV show: undress for success

11 March 2008 - The VARA broadcasting organisation wants to produce a reality show in which unemployed men follow a striptease course. Through the Bijstandsbond, an organisation of social assistance recipients, the organisation is trying to find eight unemployed men ‘with bellies and spindle legs’.

The programme was inspired by the Full Monty, a successful movie about six fired steel workers from Sheffield who form a striptease act. The VARA is looking for candidates who are willing to be trained by professional coaches to participate in a ‘theatrical striptease act’.

The broadcasting organisation states it does not want to ‘purposely’ offend anyone. “The VARA is a public broadcasting organisation and has no intention of turning this into a vulgar show. We intend to focus on the story of the men and the process they are going through”.

“Eight ordinary men make the unattainable attainable and learn to bare their soul, which leads to a disarming, heartwarming and of course attractive performance”, the VARA explains. If all goes well, they will be able to earn a living.

Piet van der Lende of the Bijstandsbond appreciates the absurdity of the plan, but at the same time he is indignant. “It is terrible. Offering your body for sale because you are unemployed. This will be all that’s left once social assistance has been abolished for people under 27”.

He does expect that some candidates will turn up. “There will always be some fools”.

He recalls that the Bijstandsbond had a conflict with the VARA before, caused by a programme in 1990 that suggested that welfare recipients are frauds. “[Well-known TV presenter] Paul Witteman had invited his brother-in-law, who was head of the Amsterdam Zuidoost district office of the welfare agency”.

“We organised a picket line at the VARA offices and went to court to prevent the programme being shown again. The latter of course was a non-starter”, Piet van der Lende of the Bijstandsbond says. “In fact, that programme marked the beginning of the tough approach we now have”.

The VARA plans to shoot its new programme in May and June.


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