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I TALK TO Eline Van Der Velden

With millions of online views worldwide, comedian Eline Van Der Velden is bringing Miss Holland to BBC Three and I caught up with her to find out how she got into comedy, her new series and what she thinks of Harry and Meghan.

The new six, 5-minute episodes will see Eline's crude, rude, Dutch beauty queen alter-ego, Miss Holland, return to the UK to learn just why Britain is so Great.

With a clipboard full of questions, armpits full of hair, and a camera team following her every whim, she’s hell bent on becoming a British lady, finding her very own ginger Prince Harry and exploring British culture

When you first think about doing comedy?

I was a very ambitious 14 year-old and came to the UK to go to a performing arts school. I used to watch Mr Bean and The Sound of Music and as a young girls I used to want to go and see musicals in the West End.

In Britain where you can go to a performing arts school but we don't have this in Holland and that's when I realised that I was a terrible musical theatre singer.

In order to get through songs in performance class, I basically just thought I'd be better off trying to make these people laugh because otherwise it's just tragic! (Laughs) I think my foreignness also helped with being funny at the time. Even though I've tried for many years to get rid of the accent.

After graduating I then went and did Physics... and I think that was more of a comedy decision really! It was probably the most ridiculous subject for me to study. My mum asked me if I could do something useful like Medicine, something I could make use of, but no, I wanted to be an astronaut!

I have all these wild ideas and then I realise that they're unfeasable such as me being really afraid of flying and therefore not able to be an astronaut.

Why did you decide to start putting videos up on YouTube yourself?

I started making short from content 5 years ago online. I loved that new space where young creatives if they had an idea could just go and make it! I was doing the traditional route in Holland, I was in a TV series out there and then I went to LA, but I was 23 and all they wanted to do was make me a damsel in distress.

I went for these auditions and my agent kept asking me to blow-dry my hair properly, put on a nice tight dress, show off my cleavage, do buy make-up... and I just couldn't. I'm the worst. I'm the worst at make-up. I'm the worst at hair. I'm the worst at fashion. I'm just an absolute disaster when it comes to being a girl.

All those things led me to going off and making my own videos. Nothing was stopping me, no one could tell me I wasn't good enough and it was amazing to see the reaction from people when we put the first video of Miss Holland up.

I love the whole process from writing it, going out there and it's a sort of Disney princess effect. People feel like they can talk to you because you're wearing a sash and a crown.

Because BBC Three is completely online now, it feels like a perfect fit for you. Did you still have the freedom to do what you wanted?

When you're making stuff on your own you have no guidelines, no commissioners telling you what you have to do so when you make a programme to fit a channel you have to adapt to whatever the channel's rules and regulations are.

There are always gains and losses but at the same time, what I have found amazing working with the BBC, is that you have people who really know what they're doing. My commissioners were so incredible at knowing what makes a great TV show and how to make an already nice and successful online show into something that's more next level.

So for me it was a really positive experience to work with the BBC as opposed to just being a girl mucking around in her bedroom.

How would you best describe Miss Holland?

A beauty queen gone wrong! (Laughs) But she tries really hard to be beautiful and in her own words she's the world's most popular beauty queen, which doesn't mean anything. She tries really hard to fit in and be British.

She loves Prince Harry, she loves the Royal family, she loves everything British which most people around the word do. I don't think British people realise how big British culture is and how many people want to emulate it. So in this series she goes out and finds out what it's like to be British these days because it's changed a lot over the last 30 years.

Not least of all because of Brexit. How has that had an influence?

Oh Brexit has been amazing for making this series. It's a great way of making Brexit a little more fun! It's so dry isn't it? So we throw a foreigner into the mix and seeing what it's like to be British through a foreigners eyes is what we're going for here. Miss Holland really nails that and for me it was to see how much people like Miss Holland. And they do! I think it's the Dutch accent.

You film a lot with the general public. At what point do you tell them who you really are? And what's their reaction like?

Well that's my thing. I love real people and I like to think it puts my acting to the test because if they believe I'm real then I've succeeded.

We used to not tell them! But that's not allowed anymore. The difference is with Sacha Baron Cohen who I absolutely adore, is that he could really piss them off and make it very hostile where as I have to make sure that they enjoy their interaction with Miss Holland otherwise they're not going to consent.

How much of what you say to them is scripted?

I spent a year writing. You have to map it out so you have three options of what they could say and three options of how I'd react. There's a lot of improv and that's really my background. When I was in LA, I trained with the Upright Citizens Brigade so a lot of it I just make up on the spot. We tell them it's a reality show for this crazy Dutch beauty queen.

Are you surprised by how many people just go for it?

Yeah, all the time! And even when I tell them afterwards that it's not real, they take a good 10 minutes to come to terms with it. They go "So you're not a beauty queen?" I go "No", "Are you Dutch?" "Not really", "Did you really mean anything you said?" "No", it's a very slow process for them to unwind and realise what's happened.

Where did the inspiration come from for Miss Holland?

I think it came from the fact that I was so incompetent at being girly and my incapability of fitting in and being considered feminine. And probably a lot of inspiration from my mother. My mother is not too dissimilar to Miss Holland. She has a strong Dutch accent, she's a bit of a hippy, she's wild and she's a yoga instructor!

Have you told her this?

No no no! She has no idea. Nobody can tell her. She has seen it but she would be so insulted if she knew that I was inspired by her for the role.

What's the most surprising reaction you've had?

In the first episode with Chloe Crowhurst from Love Island, I decided to grow my armpit hair, my pubic hair and my leg hair - so not shave basically. I got a really interesting reaction from my boyfriend actually who said "Sorry... you're doing what?!" And I was like "It's fine, we're filming in a month so it'll only be for a few weeks." and I didn't even know how much it could grow out.

Then filming got postponed to another month, and then another month and then it got postponed all through the summer until October. So there were nine months of me growing out all my hair!

I had weddings in the summer so I had to go through all of that with hair and I think the public's reaction to hair is the best thing ever because they don't know how to react to it. We're so used to seeing women without hair. It's not part of the culture.

Chloe just didn't know what to do! Her mouth just dropped and she went "Oh my God, put your arms down!"

What's her involvement then?

She gave me a makeover to make me look British because those people on Love Island look perfect all the time! So she told me all the things I had to do and I don't think we fully appreciate how hard it is. All the waxing, fake tanning, make-up, eyelashes, the hair, the nails... it just goes on and on and on and costs a lot of money.

So together with a beautician she helped to turn me into an actual British beauty queen. As opposed to this bush woman that I arrived as! (Laughs)

Miss Holland's trying to find her own Prince Harry. Are there any similarities between her and Meghan Markle?

I hope not for her! (Laughs) I think Meghan is the best thing to happen to the Royal family. I think she's going to be fantastic and I've got a secret obsession/admiration for Harry. I think he's done wonderful incredible things for charity.

What always surprises me is that British people don't think Harry's attractive because he's ginger whereas to foreigners he's very attractive and I can totally see why Meghan would fancy him. I think they're brilliant!

In the series I do go and meet a Royal butler who teaches me the etiquette which Meghan will have to go through. I'm sure she is much better at the training than Miss Holland is!

What's next for you?

I'm writing a comedy about physics which is my next project but I'd love to take Miss Holland to Japan and France and Germany but we'll wait and see if that's possible.

Miss Holland launches Friday 16th March on BBC Three


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