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Brel claims Wallonian Greatest Belgian title

21 December 2005

BRUSSELS — Popular chansonnier Jacques Brel was named on Tuesday night as ‘Le plus grand Belge’ (Greatest Belgian) in a public vote on Wallonian public broadcaster RTBF.

Brel — who died of lung cancer in 1978 — was ranked ahead of King Boudewijn and Father Damiaan, who was earlier named as the Greatest Belgian in a contest staged by Flemish public broadcaster VRT.

Cyclist Eddy Merckx finished in 4th place, followed by Sister Emmanuelle. The top 10 was completed by bass baritone José Van Dam, actor Benoît Poelvoorde, Tintin creator Hergé, painter René Magritte and writer Georges Simenon.

In the Greatest Belgian contest on VRT, Brel was ranked 7th. He was known for the songs ‘Ne me quitte pas’, ‘Le plat pays’, ‘Le Moribond’, ‘Les Bourgeois’ and ‘Les Vieux’. He also shined in films and the musical ‘L’homme de la Mancha’.

The Belgian public broadcasters initially tried to jointly stage a Greatest Belgian contest. However, the attempt broke down amid a difference of opinion on the candidate lists.

However, there was a slight chance that the French-speaking Belgians might choose the same greatest achiever as their Dutch-speaking compatriots as Father Damian scored well in the RTBF contest also.

Brel eventually emerged as the winner though.

Belgium is now the only European nation to have two greatest achievers. Earlier contests saw Charles De Gaulle (France), Konrad Adenauer (Germany), Winston Churchill (Britain) and Pim Fortuyn (the Netherlands) also emerge as some of Europe’s greatest achievers.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news