Exactly twenty years ago, in 2003, Erik Van Looy tried to win the very first edition of De Slimste Mens ter Wereld. Tonight, the 60-year-old presenter makes another attempt, this time in the Dutch version of De Slimste Mens. “My tactics? Listen!” says a combative Van Looy. “That killed Bart Cannaerts.”
When he took part in the very first season of “De Slimste Men ter Wereld” as a contestant in 2003, his ambition was broken after only five participations. Last week, Erik finished fourth, just outside the medal ranks. A year later, he was promoted to host that game show. But tonight, 20 years after his debut as a player, he’s back in one of the three seats of ‘De Slimste Mens ter Wereld’. But in the Netherlands.
“For years I’ve secretly dreamed of being a contestant on ‘De Slimste Mens’. Mainly to check how I’m doing in terms of mental decline,” says Erik. “The statistics of the winners show that you have to be between 38 and 43 years old to really score. I’m way above that. It’s also true that 60-year-olds hardly or not at all take part and are usually out pretty quickly. I really wanted to take this test. Consequently.”
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Van Looy is a winner. We’ve known that for a long time. And he’s happy to admit that. “I have the devil in me. I know that. That’s the competitive animal in me. Wanting to win,” says Van Looy. “I know it’s not easy to get BVs interested in acting in ‘Switch’ or ‘De Dag van Today’ or something like that. Well, I would add money to participate (laughs). I really enjoy doing that. Especially programs with a button. When I was 15, I was already on a game show on TV. That was Retroscope back then. When I was 19, I acted in Cinemanie presented by Michel Follet. Film quiz because I knew something about it. Fortunately, after almost 20 years of presenting Slimste Mens, my knowledge has expanded. I also now know something about history, geography and current affairs. I’ve also grown culinary. I used to not know the difference between egg white and yolk. It is now. I even knew who Yotam Ottolenghi was on ‘Switch’ recently.”
“Yes, I prepared fanatically for my participation in the Netherlands. By playing a lot the new board game from ‘De Slimste Mens’. They also know that there is always an opportunity for a topical question in the video session; That’s super important. So I prepared myself well. I know both the new Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and the old Mario Draghi. Normally I wouldn’t know. As I know British Prime Ministers Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss. Not so easy, because the Prime Ministers disappear faster than the snow in the Ardennes. But these lists can absolutely make the difference between profit and loss. The more I know the better, I thought. I can’t say if it really helped. I can tell you that Bart Cannaerts also had such lists. On the day of the finals, he went through those lists and saw a bunch of Greek goddesses. He was sure that this wouldn’t be the last question. Too bad because that was it. Had he taken the time to look at this list, he would undoubtedly have won. All this to say that I went through many lists before starting my first participation in my lodge.”
“De Slimste Mens ter Wereld” can be seen at 8:34 p.m. on NPO1.