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The best series about Bende van Nijvel in NPO: ‘Everyone hits back’

The biggest audience figure of the Flemish television spring was a masterful crime series based on the most chilling pages of the Belgian history books. Now the NPO waits with the Orwellian 1985 it also hit in the Netherlands. “Everyone falls off the chair.”

The series of brutal robberies, robberies and murders is a thing of the past for some time now. But the mysterious Bende van Nijvel still rages. For a brief history lesson hit Manners to Willem Wallyn, writer of the acclaimed series. because the talker 1985 it is not just an exciting conclusion to the movie night for Belgian viewers.

“The story of Bende van Nijvel is as fascinating as it is universal. If the people protecting us are on the wrong side, it shows the fragility of our society,” says Wallyn, who was involved in the first investigation as a cabinet clerk at the time. “Everyone falls off their chair because 1985 it really happened.”

Deep-seated corruption and bloody robberies

The bloody robberies of a series of supermarkets and intrepid murders in the first half of the 1980s seem more like a figment of Hollywood imagination. But 1985 it leans as close as possible to the improbable but opaque reality. A tip for readers: discharge the report of the commission of inquiry. It’s almost a novel in itself,” says the screenwriter. Manners.

Partly due to deep-seated corruption within the Gendarmerie, until 1992, along with the police responsible for maintaining law and order in Belgium, none of the perpetrators came to light. Despite strong suspicions and undeniable links to the now disbanded police service. “Even the Minister of Defense had to appear before the commission of investigation responsibility for an alleged connection to the Gang. And as a lawyer I also met Rijkswachters who already thought that something was wrong”.

But Wallyn spoke for the script of 1985 also with real victims who, against their will and thanks, became the protagonists of the dark chapter of Belgian history. “It is difficult to write about the most dramatic events in people’s lives. But I looked for a limit where we could respect each other and we always reached an agreement ”.

Regardless, the drama series stays true to the lurid facts and details. “The victims, the robberies and thefts; that’s ok. And apart from one exception, I did not have any fictional characters commit criminal acts. Although I have received letters, entire books, from ex-policemen claiming that they knew, or even were, that person”, laughs Wallyn. “But I take that as a compliment.”

The 1985 Tour of Flanders gets off the wheel

As proof that the Belgians meant business, we bring up a traditional audience rating pistol. This year it was on the VRT record all the time established for the broadcast of the Tour of Flanders. On average, almost 1.4 million Flemings watched Tadej Pogačar’s victory. Approximately a quarter of Dutch-speaking Belgium.

For comparison: about 1.2 million viewers were glued to the TV every week (!) 1985. On top of that, the eight episodes of the crime series in total became almost 2 million times devoured through the streaming service of the Flemish NPO; VRT max.

Why does the Nijvel Gang continue to hold the imagination, even among the younger generations of Belgians who have not experienced the crime wave? “The bloody aspect of this, the idea that people might get shot for going to the supermarket at the weekend, hasn’t been digested yet.”

Who was the Nivelles gang?

And maybe the popularity of 1985 one foot today. “Then Europe was polarized for a while. In the sense of a terrible enemy; the Soviets,” says Wallyn, who participated in anti-nuclear weapons demonstrations as a student. “There was a real belief that the enemy could invade us. There was a constant feeling of tension.”

According to the screenwriter, the Cold War was also at the root of the Belgian mystery and money was not the engine of the wave of crimes. “The strategy of tension; you intimidate the population and the people will ask for repression. The far-right members of Bende van Nijvel operated within that framework.”

But the answer to the question burning on everyone’s lips, Wallyn sadly has to remain guilty. “We will never know who he was. However, a whole team of very strong police officers is working on the issue every day,” he says. Manners. “The only way to find out the truth is to let the case expire. Then maybe people will dare to come forward.”

Belgian 1985 display figure gun at NPO

1985 has been since april 27 see in full in NPOPlus. The hit series will have its linear premiere on Thursday, May 11, on VPRO on NPO 3 at 8:25 pm After that, an episode of the Belgian viewership gun will appear every week. review the NPO Kennis site for even more information on the Bende van Nijvel. Or read which war series the Dutch public broadcaster kicked off the year with.

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The best series about Bende van Nijvel in NPO: ‘Everyone hits back’

Ritika Prasher

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