Tag Archive: Justine Huffmeijer

  1. Young People Embark on SimpelZodiak’s The Life Trail

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    Media and entertainment powerhouse, Banijay, today announces SimpelZodiak, part of Banijay Benelux, will produce adventure reality The Life Trail for Videoland. This eight-part series was developed by SimpelZodiak and RTL Creative Unit, together with Nasrdin Dchar, Walid Benmbarek, and Erik Wegewijs.

    Society is more complex than ever, and young people are among those struggling with their mental health, their self-esteem, and the question of how to approach challenges life throws their way. In The Life Trail, eight young people will embark on a life-changing adventure through Switzerland to improve their psychological wellbeing and overcome their greatest challenges. For some, that is depression and loneliness, whilst for others it could be  struggling with their gender identity. Well-known Dutch actors Nasrdin Dchar and Walid Benmbarek will also face the intense challenges and accompany the team as they head towards the finish line, guided by the inspiring Erik Wegewijs (SAS: Who Dares Wins), a former member of the Royal Netherlands Army’s elite special forces unit (KCT). At the end of the show each person that completes the trip will be able to open their bespoke prize, a gift designed to spark their dreams.

    Justine Huffmeijer, Managing Director at SimpelZodiak says: “This new format is authentic, emotional, and a real journey of self-discovery. The Life Trail is a balance between celebrity-led and relatable moving content, and we hope to empower audiences and those taking part. It has been great to work with RTL Creative Unit, Nasrdin Dchar, Walid Benmbarek and Erik Wegewijs to bring this format to life.”

    James Townley, Chief Content Officer, Development at Banijay adds: “Set amongst a breathtakingly cinematic background this new IP brings a fresh angle to adventure reality as it is intimate and addresses authentic mental health issues many young people face.  SimpelZodiak and RTL Creative Unit have beautifully captured this, and alongside motivational and engaging talent, have developed a format ripe for adaptations.”

    SimpelZodiak is a specialist in reality, adventure, crime and factual entertainment, with the aim of telling stories with impact, which leave viewers inspired and entertained. Amongst its slate is Good Luck Guys, Hunted, Survivor, SAS: Who Dares Wins and Your Home Made Perfect.

  2. SimpelZodiak Bolsters Creative Team

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    Banijay today announces Dutch production label, SimpelZodiak is strengthening its creative team with several new senior hires.

    Joining the acclaimed label is Annabelle Aaftink, who will take up the role of Head of Development with overall responsibility of the creative team. Annabel joins from Tuvalu Media where she has been in post for seven years, working with streamers and commercial broadcasters on a slate of content including Kamp van Koningsbrugge.

    She will work closely with Stijn Ouwehand, who following success with titles such as Hunted Into The Wild, a locally-created spin-off of global hit Hunted, has been promoted to lead the management of the creative output and programme development. Joining SimpelZodiak is designer and developer Henk Vernout, new casting and development executive Jamy Lee Roy and senior creative producer Vincent Sewalt.

    Justine Huffmeijer, Managing Director of SimpelZodiak says: “I’m extremely proud that Annabelle, Henk and Jamy Lee have chosen to join SimpelZodiak. They all have an incredible drive and passion for creativity – and this is at the heart of our company. The same goes for Stijn, who is one of the best creatives in the business with a raft of high-profile shows behind his name. I’m very much looking forward to working with this dream team on new successful series for the international market, as well as if course our customers and viewers in the Netherlands.”

    SimpelZodiak is behind local versions of global hits Survivor (known locally as Expedition Robinson), MasterChef, Temptation Island, Hunted, along with their locally created spin-off Hunted Into The Wild, as well as Dutch crime series Kees van der Spek.

  3. Viaplay Serves Up Celebrity MasterChef as Next Dutch Local Production

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    Viaplay will bring the world-famous reality format Celebrity MasterChef to the Netherlands for the first time starting this autumn. The 12-episode first season, produced by SimpelZodiak, a Banijay Benelux company, sees 10 Dutch personalities taking on a series of culinary challenges in front of an all-star jury and competing to become the next Celebrity MasterChef. Viaplay launched in the Netherlands on 1 March with a unique combination of original productions, international films and series, kids content and premium live sports.


    The Celebrity MasterChef jury consists of Soenil ‘The Spicy Chef’ Bahadoer, founder of the renowned De Lindehof restaurant, which received its second Michelin star in 2014; Angélique Schmeinck, one of only two female Dutch Mastercooks (the most country’s most prestigious culinary title) and head chef for 12 years at the Michelin-starred De Kromme Dissel; and Joël Broekaert, a well-known food critic, columnist and TV host.


    The show’s 10 celebrity contestants will be announced shortly.


    Filippa Wallestam, NENT Group Chief Content Officer: “High-quality local productions are a key focus for Viaplay in all our markets. Viewers everywhere have been enjoying the famous MasterChef format and its spin-offs for over 30 years, and Celebrity Masterchef will be an ideal addition to Viaplay’s fantastic menu in the Netherlands.”


    Celebrity MasterChef is produced by SimpelZodiak (Expeditie Robinson; Hunted; Ik Vertrek) and by Martijn de Bruin for Viaplay.


    Created by Franc Roddam, MasterChef has been named ‘Most Successful Cookery Television Format’ by Guinness World Records and the most successful format ever by The WIT. First aired in the UK in 1990, 49 series were produced in 33 territories in 2021. The MasterChef format and finished programmes are represented internationally by Banijay. Viaplay has produced MasterChef in Denmark since 2011.


    In January, Viaplay announced Dragons’ Den, the globally successful show that gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a panel of investors, as its first original production in the Netherlands.

  4. Banijay’s Hunted Heads Into The Wild

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    Banijay today announces Dutch production label, SimpelZodiak has created a new spin-off of reality thriller Hunted. Already producing both the civilian and celebrity versions, SimpelZodiak will now bring Hunted into the wild to NPO 3.


    The stakes are higher than ever on Hunted into the wild as ordinary people must hide in an inhospitable landscape to evade capture. From the moment of the dramatic launch, the ‘fugitives’ are at the mercy of the wilderness as they try to remain undetected. Who can brave the heat, rain, and cold as professional hunters use their experience to track them down? Despite this new setting meaning the hunters can’t use surveillance cameras, the formidable team will stop at nothing to complete their task. Will one wrong move result in capture or will these Dutch participants be able to utilise the landscape to outsmart Marcel van de Ven and his team?


    Originally created by Shine TV for UK broadcaster Channel 4, Hunted has since been commissioned in 11 countries. Hunted continues its strong run in the Netherlands with the latest VIP series currently on-air and SimpelZodiak’s sixth season having achieved the best ratings to date.


    2021 was a successful year for the format with Endemol Shine Australia announcing they will produce an adaptation for Channel 10 and Belgium’s first season being the most-watched weekly show on Play4 that season. In the UK the format continues to be ratings hit, with the most recent series more than doubling the slot for younger viewers. In total, the number of series which aired was double that of 2020 including Italian, French and German versions for Amazon Prime Video.


    Justine Huffmeijer, Managing Director of SimpelZodiak says: “Hunted into the wild will have viewers on the edge of their seat as the drama surpasses anything we’ve seen before. We know how much Dutch audiences are captivated by the VIP and civilian versions so we can’t wait for audiences to see this fresh take.”


    Lucas Green, Head of Content Operations of Banijay adds: “Hunted is factual entertainment at its best. This new spin-off highlights the expanding potential for Hunted’s thrilling social experiment, as anonymity becomes increasingly harder in modern life. SimpelZodiak always produces high-quality programming, and we are sure this new series in the ‘escape genre’ will be no different. Having already established such a strong following for this format in the Netherlands, we know they are a safe pair of hands to further develop this new chapter of Hunted.”


    This new twist on the global brand adds to the award-winning Dutch production company’s burgeoning catalogue. Priding itself on creating high-quality content for both linear TV, streamers, and online platforms some of SimpelZodiak’s key credits include SAS: Who Dares Wins, Temptation Island, Your Home Made Perfect, Table for Two, and Survivor.

  5. Banijay Benelux Appoints New Managing Director at SimpelZodiak

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    Banijay Benelux today announces Justine Huffmeijer has been appointed as Managing Director of SimpelZodiak, taking up the post on 1 February 2022.


    In this position, Justine Huffmeijer will have overall responsibility of SimpelZodiak, leading all business operations and overseeing its extensive portfolio which includes key brands Hunted and Temptation Island. Leading the team, Huffmeijer will have responsibility for the label’s creative pipeline for linear broadcasters and streaming platforms, with a remit to expand the slate for the local and international market.  She will join the Banijay Benelux management board, reporting to company CEO Peter Lubbers.


    Huffmeijer’s career encompasses a mix of broadcaster and production company experience, including Eyeworks, IDTV and Net5, where she was channel director, supervising MasterChef. Elsewhere, at RTL, she also oversaw Banijay titles, Temptation Island and Expeditie Robinson.


    Peter Lubbers, CEO at Banijay Benelux comments: “Justine is well-known for her entrepreneurial creative character and enthusiasm for the media industry. She has built a versatile career and is already familiar with the beautiful brands of SimpelZodiak from previous roles.”


    Justine Huffmeijer, Managing Director SimpelZodiak:  “This is a fantastic opportunity which I have happily seized with both hands. To lead a company with SimpelZodiak’s reputation, specialising in adventure, reality and factual entertainment suits me like no other. I’m very much looking forward to contributing to the strong brands across the slate such as Hunted and Temptation Island and growing the business even further. I can’t wait to meet all the producers and team and build the future of SimpelZodiak together.”


    Huffmeijer succeeds Laurens Woldberg, who is leaving the company to work as a Creative Producer at Dutch broadcaster KRO-NCRV.