July 15, 2024

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Cult series “Die Fussbroichs”: How the WDR accidentally invented the docu-soap – Culture: Current news and reports

Urkölsch - hilarious: Fred Fussbroich chattering like a waterfall had done it to people.  Quite a few recognized the Cologne

Urkölsch – hilarious: Fred Fussbroich chattering like a waterfall had done it to people. Quite a few recognized the Cologne “Arbeitsmann” as a version of themselves wrapped in balloon silk. (Sony)

The Fussbroichs endured a good ten years in their living room without a camera team. But then they obviously lacked something. From 2013 to 2016 the Cologne cult family produced DVD releases on their own. The protagonists of the legendary WDR documentary series of the 90s also play on a Facebook channel. A handful of old fans “like it” when family father Fred unwraps presents at Christmas and mother Annemie, now with a pageboy cut, counts the calories as always. Recently, however, it became a little quieter on the side, and at Christmas there was even cause for concern: Fred and Annemie had corona, Annemie was hospitalized.

This made known to the broadcaster RTL Sohnemann Frank on the current occasion. The now 52-year-old is drawn to the jungle camp substitute break “I am a star – The great jungle show” (from Friday, January 15, 10:15 pm, RTL). After a flying visit with his wife Elke in the “Sommerhaus der Stars” (2018), this is a long, logical and also a little sad path since he became known in the “only true family series”.

“The special thing is that we don’t show anything special”: Filmmaker Ute Diehl (left) with Fred and Annemie Fussbroich. For more than ten years she accompanied the Cologne family with the camera. (WDR / Norbert Haas)

“Die Fussbroichs”: The first real-life format on German television

It is almost tragic irony that it was not private television that invented the docu-soap, but actually WDR. But with the best of intentions. In 1979 Ute Diehl shot a critical documentary about the consumer behavior of 11-year-old Frank Fussbroich in a children’s room in Cologne. Ten years later, the filmmaker returned to the same 68 square meter cooperative apartment in Cologne-Buchheim to see if everything was going well. The success of the broadcast was so resounding that a documentary series developed. If you will, the first serial real-life format on German television.

Fred and Annemie are packing their bags.  Mostly it was a package tour to Mallorca:

Fred and Annemie are packing their bags. Most of the time it was a package tour to Mallorca: “Have a nice vacation, drive a nice car, that’s it.” (Sony)

“The special thing is that we don’t show anything special,” said Ute Diehl, describing the concept that was awarded the Grimme Prize in 1992. This is exactly what “Die Fussbroichs” looks like. The camera shamelessly points when the family members lounge in underpants on the sofa. But the attitude is not voyeuristic. No scripts and hardly any staging disturb everyday realism. You can also watch for a long time as tidiness fetishist Fred sorts tiny objects on a dresser.

Ridicule and sympathy for the “Liz Taylor vun Kölle”

Fred also had his future daughter-in-law lend a hand on his famous Minipli.  After all, Pia was a trained hairdresser.

Fred also had his future daughter-in-law lend a hand on his famous Minipli. After all, Pia was a trained hairdresser. (Sony)

100 episodes of 30 minutes each were created according to this fascinating pattern, the last one was broadcast at Christmas 2003. A regular audience of several million people looked into the narrow living room with the oak wall unit. Shift leader Fred and the administrative clerk Annemie were invited to Alfred Biolek and Bettina Böttinger. Fred’s Klopper sayings were quoted in schoolyards and fashion victim Annemie revered her as the “Liz Taylor vun Kölle”. Of course, this only happens when the ridicule is accompanied by at least as much sympathy.

People especially liked Fred, chattering like a waterfall. Quite a number of people recognized an entertaining version of themselves in this minded man, decorated with miniature plugs, gold chains and balloon silk.

Fred and Annemie Fussbroich in consumer frenzy:

Fred and Annemie Fussbroich in a consumer frenzy: “Dat sisch, the work man can allow dat, I think it’s great.” (WDR / Ute Diehl)

Fred had resoundingly simple answers to every important question in life, and he knew what he wanted. For example holidays on Mallorca (“Here spreschen’se all German”), even if the locals couldn’t stand it up (“The Spaniards are all short, that will be due to the diet.”) As Annemie, who is much more exploratory, one day City trip to Paris prevailed, said the habitual person in the coach tiredly, driving through a foreign city was “like ze Huss”. They then stopped traveling to Paris.

Between criticism of capitalism and consumption frenzy

Scene from episode 87: Frank Fussbroich with his girlfriend Claudia and their child.  His girlfriends changed the confessing

Scene from episode 87: Frank Fussbroich with his girlfriend Claudia and their child. The self-confessed “mom child” changed his girlfriends almost as quickly as his cars. (WDR / Ute Diehl)

Year in, year out it went on in solemn uniformity between shopping, package holidays and grandma’s funeral. Fred was soon retiring. The best time to notice that time was passing was when the Fussbroichs bought a more modern television set or a new car. With the generous WDR fees, also an ironic punch line, the capitalism-critical filmmakers drove their model average family into a consumer frenzy. Fred was genuinely happy at the Mercedes dealer: “The worker who can allow that date, thinks it’s great.”

“I wanted to tell you that consumption dominates and manipulates people,” Ute Diehl reflected on her intentions in an interview with “Spiegel”. “Via the consumer channel, they are sorted into society in an absolutely appropriate way. On this fine line, Annemie and Fred are definitely an enviable, happy, personable couple. ”Or as Annemie once put it in a more concise motto:“ Have a nice vacation, drive a nice car, that’s it. ”

On the RTL show

In the RTL show “I’m a Star – The Great Jungle Show”, Frank Fussbroich is fighting for a ticket for the “real” jungle camp, which will take place in Australia in 2022 as usual. (RTL / Udo Keus)

Filmmaker Diehl: “We never wanted to put anyone down”

Only his son Frank, with whom it all began, developed worryingly. He changed his girlfriends almost as quickly as his cars. But regardless of whether a hairdresser (Pia), a beautician (Heike) or a podiatrist (Claudia) had succumbed to his boyish charm: the fact that the “hottest ass in Cologne” is best in the kitchen stood for the confessed “Mummy child” never in doubt.

In 2018 they moved into

In 2018 they moved to the “Summer House of the Stars”: Frank Fussbroich (49) and his wife Elke (51) were participants in the RTL reality show. (MG RTL D / Max Kohr)

For several years, the only child, who was spoiled by every trick in the book, made mostly negative headlines. “Somehow the boy is twisted”, even the omniscient Fred did not know how to make sense of it. After all, Frank, a trained fitter and bodybuilding enthusiast, could always rely on family solidarity – as well as on the fairness of the filmmakers: “We never wanted to show anyone. We never wanted to put anyone down, ”said Ute Diehl looking back. “We wanted to show that this is a decent, good life.”

There will be no question of decency and fairness when the ex-professional son, who is currently working as a chair representative, will soon honor the RTL jungle show. After all, there is no long journey to Australia. The jungle camp replacement show is recorded not far from his home in Düren, in Cologne-Hürth. There Frank Fussbroich meets TV celebrities, among whom the 70s playmate Bea Fiedler and the former “Bachelor” Oliver Sanne are almost the most famous. What to say about it Many an old fan may think of Fred Fussbroich’s most famous bon mot: “For mixed personalities this is of no interest.”