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Tom Hanks slates top German TV show

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Photo: DPA
11:22 CET+01:00
Tom Hanks slated Germany's favourite TV show, a mix of chat and challenges that baffles foreigners. "If that is not high quality television," he said of one scene when the Wetten, dass...? host hopped around him in a sack.

The Hollywood star, who appeared on Saturday's show along with co-star Halle Berry to promote their new film Cloud Atlas, said afterwards he had never wished for something to be over quicker than he had the current US election campaign - until he was on that show.

Speaking on RBB 88.8 radio station on Sunday, he said anyone in the US who had been responsible for a television show that ran for more than four hours would have been fired.

And on Monday he told Der Spiegel online, "Let me sum it up in one sentence - at one point I was standing around with a funny cat hat on my head and watched as the host hopped around me.

"And the translator was literally saying 'blah blah blah' in my ear. He had given up trying to explain to me which famous German comedian was imitating which other famous German comedian. 'You don't need to know this,' he told me.

"I don't think anyone... wanted to be there for three, four, five hours. How long did it last in the end? But hey it was fun nonetheless."

It was the second outing for the new host of the show Markus Lanz, who Hanks described on air as looking like a greasy banker he could not trust. At the time this was assumed to be an amusing form of joshing with the host, but his comments afterwards made them seem acidic in retrospect.

He told the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung he had no idea what the show was about. "I was on this show a couple of years ago, that time with Leonardo DiCaprio. I didn't understand the show then, and I understand it even less now," he said.

Berry said she could not understand what was going on - not just the concept of celebrities sponsoring weird challenges, such as a woman who said she could distinguish between hundreds of different kinds of nail polish - but because the interpreter speaking through a microphone into her ear was unclear.

She was left even more puzzled by a comment from Lanz, who asked her whether or not it was true that she had a passion for the smell of freshly-cooked meat. "Where did you hear that?" she asked him, only for a co-host to suggest that Lanz stop reading rubbish on the internet.

Hanks was assigned a dentist who said he could tell the difference between 50 different drills - and managed to do so on the television.

The stars - and their publicists - were undoubtedly drawn to the show by its unmatched audience figures - nearly 11 million people tuned in on Saturday, a figure representing a third of the television market. Wetten, dass...? has been running since 1981 and is broadcast live across Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Until last year it was hosted by Thomas Gottschalk, but he left after a contestant was paralysed when his bet, of jumping over a car being driven at him, went wrong.

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Hanks and Berry are in Germany for the European premiere of Cloud Atlas - the most expensive German film ever made. Directed by one of Germany's favourites, Tom Tykwer, along with Lana and Andy Wachowski of Matrix success, the film cost €110 million of largely German money to make and was filmed in Babelsberg studios in Potsdam.

The Local/DPA/hc

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