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Nostalgia TV: Pumuckl, Spencer: TV producers court Millennials

Nostalgia TV: Pumuckl, Spencer: TV producers court Millennials
Nostalgia TV: Pumuckl, Spencer: TV producers court Millennials

“Hello, dear people, from A to Z, from one to a hundred…”: Children of the 80s know “Hello Spencer”, which is now being revived as a film thanks to Böhmermann. Nostalgia TV for middle-aged people seems to be in vogue.

Anyone who was young and watched television in the 1980s will probably remember the children’s show “Hallo Spencer” and its presenter, a puppet with a flat cap. In 2024, ZDF will release a production called “Hallo Spencer – The Film”, largely driven by entertainer Jan Böhmermann (premiere at the Munich Film Festival on July 2).

The film is part of a nostalgia TV trend that RTL already served and continues to serve with the warm-hearted “Pumuckl” revival. In this case, it is very German nostalgia television, not Muppets or Fraggles.

Internationally, the moving image market – from Hollywood studios to streaming giants – currently often seems to want to produce nostalgia triggers. Think of the often self-referential productions around “Star Wars”, “Star Trek”, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Harry Potter, but also “Stranger Things” or the box office hit “Barbie”.

Often, the talk about generations that supposedly think the same way (such as “Boomers” or “Gen Z”) is annoying. But there are actually often some similarities in viewing habits within an age cohort. People also talk about media nostalgia (films, series, radio plays, games, music, books) when something is consumed specifically to evoke memories of the first time it was seen or certain emotions.

In any case, whoever revives Pumuckl and Spencer wants to appeal to the children of the 80s and 90s – the late generations of Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) and the early generations of the so-called Generation Y (born between 1981 and 1995).

“…here I am again, your dear good old Spencer!”

Television producers are courting the millennials. This is also what people of Generation Y (“Gen Y”) are often called. Many of them know by heart what Spencer always said at the beginning of the puppet series (1979 to 2001): “Hello, dear people, from A to Z, from one to a hundred, from north to south, from east to west, here I am again, your dear old Spencer!” Many people also grew fond of characters like the young dragon Poldi (“I want to eat you”), the good-natured Kasimir and the bookworm Lexi.

One of those people is probably the satirist Böhmermann, born in 1981, who is now bringing the series, which originally ran on NDR and ARD, to ZDF as a modern film comedy.

The revival of Pumuckl also involved a change of channel (from BR and ARD to RTL). The actor Florian Brückner replaced the “Meister Eder” actor Gustl Bayrhammer, who died in 1993, as the human reference point for the goblin with the red hair. Maxi Schafroth does the voice, replacing Hans Clarin, who died in 2005.

“For some time now, television has been using the nostalgia effect to compete with video streaming platforms,” ​​says media scientist Joan Bleicher. The reception of familiar content, combined with new presentation technology and new stories, is seen as a positive emotional experience. “Pumuckl or “Hallo Spencer” function as a media version of Proust’s madeleines, which remind us of our childhood, our earlier life,” says Bleicher from the University of Hamburg. “It is above all the memory of normal times that can be linked to the old, familiar formats.” In his novel “In Search of Lost Time,” author Marcel Proust had his main character bite into a madeleine pastry, which triggers a rush of memories in the book.

From a program planning perspective, broadcasting proven programs from the past offers more certainty in terms of ratings than innovative program ideas, says Professor Bleicher. These are often more expensive and also take more time to gain acceptance.

But no expense or effort was spared, at least in the Spencer and Pumuckl projects. For Pumuckl, for example, the once demolished carpenter’s workshop was faithfully rebuilt by Master Eder in an old industrial hall on the outskirts of Munich. Anyone who watches the series can hardly believe that the courtyard that millions of people still have in their minds is now just a replica with an artificial sky in the studio.

Pumuckl returns due to success – to TV and cinema

After RTL celebrated success around Christmas with the series “New Stories from Pumuckl”, it was announced in June that the elaborate prankster would continue. In addition to a second season with 13 episodes, a movie is also planned. Marcus H. Rosenmüller will once again direct both productions.

The series sequel is expected to be broadcast at the end of 2025, first on the streaming service RTL+ and later on RTL and also on ORF. The movie with the working title “Pumuckl and the Great Misunderstanding”, which tells its own, self-contained story about the goblin and Florian Eder, is also scheduled to be released in 2025.

Whether the ZDF project “Hallo Spencer” will have a sequel – a Hello again – will become clear in the coming weeks and months.

Source: Stern

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