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Ricky Gervais praises Flemish drama series

© Eyeworks for VRT

A Flemish television drama series broadcast at the end of last year has attracted the notice of none other than TV and film star Ricky Gervais, who has brought the series – De twaalf – to the notice of his 14 million Twitter followers.

The series – which looks at a jury trial in a double murder case – was shown on VRT between November 2019 and January this year, and is since April available for streaming on the Dutch-language version of Netflix and other streaming services, including All4 in the UK.

Gervais, best known for his TV sitcoms The Office and Extras, posted his praise last on Wednesday evening on Twitter, where he has a massive 14 million followers.

Watched #detwaalf this week,” he wrote. “One of the most complex, nuanced and gripping courtroom dramas I’ve ever seen. Naturalistic and extraordinary. Beautiful and gritty. A study of humanity, morality, integrity and consequence. Bravo.”

I saw the tweet immediately and posted it to our WhatsApp group,” series producer Peter Bouckaert told VRT news.

For many of us, Ricky Gervais is God. He is a world leader in character creation and storytelling. When someone like this takes a full look at our series and spontaneously sends such a compliment out to the world, that’s great. It came down on me like a bomb.”

I was lying in bed and nearly fell out again,” said Sanne Nuyens, show-runner and one of the writers of the series.

You always make a series for the public. I hope this might generate some more viewers.”

Bouckaert, meanwhile, was impressed not only by Gervais himself, but also by the effect on his many followers.
“All of his followers are people interested in such things. About half of Hollywood follows him,” he said.

They can also watch the series if they want to, because it can be seen all over the world. That is different from when someone sends a compliment about something that can only be seen at a certain festival.”

The story of De twaalf (The Jury) concerns a schoolteacher (played by Maaike Cafmeyer) accused of the murder of her friend 18 years previously, and of her own daughter two years ago.

The first six of the ten episodes concentrate on one main character, with the four remaining looking at pairs of characters. The cast list reads like an imdb of the Flemish acting world, including not only Cafmeyer, but also Maaike Neuville, Johan Heldenbergh, Josse De Pauw, Koen De Sutter and stand-up comedian William Boeva.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times