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Domino returns to TV: how falling rocks once became a big hit | NOW

RTL 4 will broadcast a new domino competition from Saturday evening. Led by presenter Ruben Nicolai go into Domino Challenge eight of the best construction teams in the Netherlands compete. Years after the successful Domino Day another domino program back on the tube. A look back at that ratings hit.

Under the name of Domino Day From the eighties on, building and changing entire circuits with dominoes kept Dutch and international TV viewers in its grip for about twenty years. It always revolved around the record for the largest number of falling dominoes.

In the 1980s, the annual event was not yet called Domino Day and was it part of the TROS program The first one, which featured all kinds of record attempts. The first broadcast was in December 1986. In 1988 the first record was broken with more than 1.3 million falling rocks. This resulted in a listing in the Guinness Book of Records.

It was not until ten years later that another record attempt was made and under the name Domino D-Day broadcast on SBS6. The program was produced by Endemol. After a complaint from Germany about the name D-Day, which would refer too much to the Second World War, the name of the program was changed to Domino Day† A world record was set with a domino effect of 1.6 million falling stones.


Big stars knocked over first stone

It grew into a major annual event, which up to and including 2009 often more than two million Dutch people watched. Worldwide, spread over ten European countries, it attracted more than 50 million viewers.

Year after year, millions of stones were placed in a gigantic hall in Leeuwarden in all kinds of creative buildings with diverse themes such as Europe or music. The aim was always to break a world record. In the last year that it was broadcast on SBS6, it was a world record attempt of 4.8 million stones. Meanwhile, the makers had to carry out all kinds of ‘challenges’. For example: walk blindfolded through a maze and place a large domino at the end.

Hans Kraaij Jr. became the permanent face as the presenter of the show, first together with Wendy van Dijk and later with Nance. A regular part was the pushing of the first stone by a celebrity. That started with Dutch stars such as Linda de Mol and Hans Klok, but became more and more international. Lionel Richie, Kylie Minogue, Shania Twain, Nick Carter, Anastacia, Kim Wilde and Katie Melua showed up to push the first stone and get the whole game going.


The Sparrow Incident

The 2005 edition is known as the ‘dominomus’ edition. The bird flew into the hall during the preparations and knocked over some 23,000 dominoes. An employee of fauna management shot the sparrow, which caused many indignant reactions.

The employee received death threats and website No style and radio DJ Ruud de Wild called for the domino program to be sabotaged. They offered a reward for the person who knocked over one million stones before the broadcast.

Later, the Ministry of Agriculture stated that the sparrow had been shot illegally. The show went on as usual and a new world record was set. The sparrow was later set up and exhibited by Natuurmuseum Fryslan.

The last broadcast of . for the time being was in 2009 Domino Day, which was canceled the following year due to the financial crisis. There were no more sponsors to be found. The domino record of 4,491,863 fallen stones still dates from that year.

Domino Day return was postponed

Producer Endemol Shine announced in 2020 that Domino Day would return that year, but the program was postponed due to the corona crisis. For that reason, the program could not continue in 2021 either.

RTL announced an alternative and that can be seen from Saturday evening. This is not about breaking the world record, but about “the most creative and impressive domino masterpieces”. With two million dominoes at their disposal, eight building teams compete against each other.

With this, RTL is diving into the popular toy genre, which in recent years has produced programs with, among other things, Lego bricks, marbles, miniatures and radio-controlled cars.

Domino Challenge can be seen every Saturday evening at 8 p.m. on RTL 4.

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