Have you ever seen four people trying to fit their heads into a single bathing cap, someone telling the colour of pencils by licking them and a guy extinguishing candles with his tears, and all that in one place and within the course of three hours? No? Welcome to the world of German TV. To be fair, I am talking about a very special German TV show – this is not the norm. But I am also talking about Germany’s most popular TV show – it is actually referred to as ‘the biggest TV show in all Europe’. I am talking about ‘Wetten, dass…?’
Here’s the facts: It has been running for over 30 years. It has an average of 20 million viewers (which is 25% of the whole population of Germany). From Bud Spencer to Paris Hilton and Leonardo DiCaprio, basically every famous person has been a guest on the show at least once. Robbie Williams was there 12 times! And it is a show about grown up people cracking nuts with their butts and blowing up condoms with their noses until they burst. Why?! You may ask. To give you a better understanding of ‘Wetten, dass…?’ let me explain you the concept.
‘Wetten, dass…?’ is a live show broadcasted 8 times a year and is supposed to be on for two hours, but it always lasts three or longer because the hosts don’t know when to stop. The show is based around bets and celebrity guests – German people who apply beforehand perform unusual, oftentimes bizarre things within a certain amount of time and the celebrity guests have to bet if the candidates will accomplish their task or not. If the celebrities lose the bet, they have to perform a task themselves. These activities used to be charitable, but nowadays they are more “humorous”, like Gerard Butler pouring a bucket of ice into his underpants.
Sounds weird, but just to remind you, every fifth person in Germany watches ‘Wetten, dass…?’ and literally everyone who is famous has appeared on the show at least once – Naomi Campbell, Bill Gates, Madonna, Karl Lagerfeld, David Copperfield, David Beckham and Beyoncé just to name a few.
So what makes this show so special? Definitely its weirdness. It is unique – not in a good way if you ask me, but people just love it. Rumour has it that a lot of people just watch it because they were brought up with it and after being tortured by the show’s weirdness for years, they just don’t question it anymore and came to the point where they think everything happening on the show is normal. There is no explanation, but Germans love ‘Wetten, dass…?’ and you could say it is part of their culture.
Unfortunately, the show went downhill when longtime host Thomas Gottschalk retired and some stuck-up twat took over in 2012. That is said to be the reason why the show will be cancelled by the end of the year – people just don’t watch it anymore. I actually have to stop now because I get really nostalgic and sad, even though I have not seen the show in years. But why do they have to drop it after 34 years of joy and weirdness?
PS: I didn’t think there would be a counterpart in this country because I’ve never heard of a British TV show where people spit into each others mouths to guess what toothpaste someone was using or try to crack nuts with their butts. But apparently, there once was a similar show in the UK called ‘You Bet!’ – it was cancelled in 1997.