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Exclusive interview of GÁBOR GUNDEL TAKÁCS, Hungarian presenter and commentator (1994-1999)

13 sept 2014 • Catégorie(s) : Interviews

Journalist, commentator, presenter : he’s able to do anything! Gabor is one of the most famous tv hosts in Hungary. During the last Eurovision Song Contest, an event he commentates on every year, he kindly agreed to talk about his experiences in Jeux Sans Frontières – the series that changed his life!

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Sébastien Dias ( Before hosting Jeux Sans Frontières, you were a sports journalist…

Gábor Gundel Takács: Yes, that’s true. I began my career as a sports commentator.

When Hungary came to Jeux Sans Frontières in 1993, the only host was Dorottya [Geszler, Ed], a very beautiful girl. But the management realised that somebody had to commentate on the show, as if it was sports broadcast. And who can do that? Of course – a sports commentator! I was the man who was picked out, though I don’t know why exactly.

This show brought me a lot of popularity. It was a huge experience in my life. In 1994, when I got the job, I was 30, a beginner. I became a named commentator. Jeux Sans Frontières was a huge success in Hungary.

G. G. T.: Many Hungarians always ask me what happened, why these games finished, and how about doing it again.

After 15 years, the show is so popular that the Hungarian television have started to broadcast it again. Many people say it was fantastic. So do my children: they enjoyed it but told me, ‘Daddy, how did you look like that?’ It was 20 years ago, I was young, with a lot of hair, a different face… I’m 50 this year! Starting this new experience, you became more than a commentator : you had to be a showman. Do you feel comfortable in that sort of role?

G. G. T.: If you are a sports commentator, you just have to surf the event. But Jeux Sans Frontières is a show. So you have to give a little bit more, make it funnier. The games, the costumes, the situations were funny: if you see a dog or a monkey falling into the water, it brings out the children from the serious adults we are.

I am a lucky man : according to other people, I have got a great sense of humour. Maybe the secret was to match the spirit of the game and my personality because they are very close together. Did you try some games during the rehearsals ?

G. G. T.: Yes, every time it was possible, we picked up the costumes and tried the whole game or part of it, because sometimes it was really sport for the participants.

Then we made short films to describe the rules for the audience, so they know what to expect when Denis – all the Hungarians know Denis – said ‘Prêts ?’ and blew the whistle. [Denis Pettiaux was the international referee from 1990 and 1999] How was it, working with Dorottya?

G. G. T.: Basically I was the commentator, Dorottya was the reporter and together we described the games.

During the 1995 shows, Dorottya was pregnant. That was the reason things changed. With Beatrix [Farkas] and Maria [Borbas], the system was more or less the same. But maybe the spirit of the girls was different. Maria was the most friendly, with a very good sense of humour. I think she was the best of the three. Why were you not on stage in the last years?

G. G. T.: At the end of 1995, I left Hungarian television and went to Eurosport. The question was whether or not to keep on working on this show. In the end, the decision was that I was a commentator but I wasn’t travelling to the places. Shortly after the shows were cut, I recorded the commentaries in a studio. How was it, working with presenters from other countries?

G. G. T.: A lot of good memories came back when I watched these shows again. For example, I remember Ettore, a fantastic guy. I will never forget the day he interviewed 4 Italian players and spoke during the whole 4 minutes! The guys stood there and at the end, Ettore said ‘Andiamo !’ without the possibility for them to say a single word!

With most of them, we met every summer. It was a good team and it was very interesting to watch how they were working, maybe in a different way. It was a short time after the political change in Hungary. Was there pressure on Hungarian television to show that it was able to produce such a big event?

G. G. T.: I think it was important to broadcast a show like this on Hungarian television, even if it was really expensive. But nobody told me never to speak about Europe, borders, freedom or political themes. So I think the bosses realised that we did not have to put another message on these games, because they worked in a natural way. Could you tell us your most favourite memory?

G. G. T.: It’s difficult: I have got a lot of good memories, a lot of fun, a lot of jokes… Last summer I went to Portugal with my family, and visited Batalha, where I made my first programme. I enjoyed it. That was my first stage. It was fantastic.

We had a lot of good days but also very difficult ones together. For example a huge storm struck before a final in Lisbon [in 1997]: we had to wait till midnight to begin the recording of the show. Before that, in Poros, Greece [1994], we finished the recording in the morning. It was a scandal ! I remember Dorottya slept on a bank. I finished the show whispering : ‘Hush! Dorottya is sleeping already, the show is over. See you next Sunday!’

Two days after Europe celebrated Conchita Wurst’s victory in Copenhagen, Gabor was back in Budapest. The new ‘Játék határok nélkül’ were waiting for him!

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  1. J’ai regardé une fois et c’est pas trop trop mal dans l’ensemble… Mis à part un arbitre qui s’égosille un peu trop et qui doit en faire des caisses pour assurer le show ainsi qu’une présentatrice au sourire ultra-brite plus attirée par son reflet dans la caméra au lieu d’être proche et réactive avec son collègue animateur mais aussi les candidats…

    Le hasard fait généralement bien les choses…. mais bon, là, comme par hasard, c’est la dernière et sixième émission éliminatoire qui départage les deux équipes prétendantes à la finale… la joie du montage…

    Il aurait été aussi de bon ton de faire jouer les quatre équipes à chaque fois au lieu de les opposer deux à deux… On aurait additionné les scores obtenus à chaque émission et c’est l’équipe avec le plus gros total à la fin des six émissions qui serait allée en finale

    Il est surtout URGENT de revoir les règles du dernier jeu qui est complètement aberrant… Comment se permettre de traduire un écart de points en une distance, ce qui n’est pas du tout significatif et qui est difficilement convertible !!

    Une équipe peut très bien gagner jeu sur jeu et tout perdre au dernier moment, tout ça dans le but de ménager un « pseudo-suspense » à deux balles alors à quoi bon alors se fatiguer durant les épreuves si c’est pour tout perdre à la fin ?? Suffit juste de mettre des candidats costauds au dernier jeu et c’est gagné…

    Les questions de culture générale étaient plus adaptées comme dernier jeu et avaient selon moi plus de sens… Disons que les candidats faisaient fonctionner leurs jambes mais aussi leur tête !!

    Néanmoins, cette session de Jeux à la neige est moins ennuyeuse et surtout moins cheap que les Intervilles des années 2000 sur France Télévisions… Gardons espoir que Mistral Productions continue sur cette lancée à remonter la pente…

    Ce n’est pas une questions d’argent mais juste d’avoir l’envie et la volonté !!!