"Hard but fair" farewell: Frank Plasberg gets bored

Frank Plasberg describes it as an experiment that is about to take place.

"Hard but fair" farewell: Frank Plasberg gets bored

Frank Plasberg describes it as an experiment that is about to take place. "You know that from children: If you take away their Playstation or iPad and they get bored, then they suddenly start playing hide and seek again," he explains. He now imagines it in a similar way to himself. Shut down stimuli - and wait and see what kind of ideas come up. "I want to see what boredom will do to me," he says.

The difference is: Frank Plasberg is not in the hands of entertainment electronics, but one of the country's best-known television talk shows. He has moderated "hard but fair" since 2001. But on Monday evening (November 14, 9:00 p.m., Das Erste) it should be over. Then Plasberg wants to present the format one last time. After that, the show will go on hiatus before returning in early 2023 - with a new presenter. With Louis Klamroth.

He maintained a confident style

The fact that it is Plasberg, of all people, who is bringing movement into the top league of German talk show moderators by withdrawing, can come as a surprise at first glance. The 65-year-old not only maintained a snappy style on his show – he was also rarely at a loss for self-confident statements about their success ("We pushed through, rose from underdog to top dog"). Even today, in conversation, he sometimes chooses vocabulary that exudes a certain harshness. For example: "We have always fought." Or that the then WDR director Fritz Pleitgen once "bombed" the show from WDR to ARD.

One does not immediately expect the quite noiseless retreat of the head of the company without necessity. But that's how it was, reports Plasberg. "In October of last year I approached the broadcaster, the client, and said: Guys, I'll be 65. Look and see if it's really what we think - that the format is stronger than the moderator," he says. "And that with a new face it could also get an oxygen shower." It was always important to him that the show was not burned "like a kind of widow burning" when he retired.

He is not planning a new show

Plasberg actually chooses the word retirement. He says he has no new plans at the moment. He certainly asked himself what a new challenge could be. A new show, for example, is not. "I say: The greatest adventure for me - who started working as a journalist at the age of 16 at the "Bergische Morgenpost" in Wermelskirchen - is: Just don't be important anymore. Just see what happens to you when you not stoned with appointments." It was clear to him that this could also lead to "a dark hole". "But I want to try it." He will also no longer moderate the year-end quiz on ARD. "So in December it's also: Goodbye."

Plasberg denies that he could continue to influence "hard but fair". The program will continue to be produced by the production company of which he is one of the managing directors. But "active" he will no longer have anything to do with it. He is now a spectator. Or as Plasberg assures: "I will not be like the aging screw manufacturer who sneaks through the aisles late at night and checks whether the tolerances are right."

Norbert Röttgen had the most appearances

How "hard but fair" will develop will only become clear when the younger Klamroth has taken over. Especially in its first years, the show was style-defining - from the famous fact check to the playful final round. It ran on WDR from 2001 and on ARD from 2007. Norbert Röttgen leads the list of guests with the most appearances, followed by Karl Lauterbach and Bärbel Höhn. Somewhat surprisingly, talk show tanker Wolfgang Bosbach followed in fourth place. Plasberg looked up the numbers.

He makes no secret of the fact that he would have liked to broadcast on ARD on Sunday evenings - where Anne Will can currently be seen or Günther Jauch used to. "Of course I would have liked to have had it more comfortable," he says. On Sunday - the "crime scene" day - ARD has ten million viewers in advance. Before the “hard but fair” slot on Monday evening, on the other hand, there are a lot of different things going on. Sometimes you can build on that, sometimes not. "Sometimes there was a nature documentary about courtship squirrels," says Plasberg.

In his last broadcast, the topic "Off to the desert - who is looking forward to the World Cup in Qatar?" be. Plasberg says he doesn't know what he's going to say at the end - he's not writing anything down. But there should be a surprise in the last few minutes. "I was told: wait and see what happens next," he reports. It is the attitude that now applies to him in many situations in life.

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