Timm Thaler (1979)

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Television series
Original title Timm Thaler
Country of production Germany
original language German
year 1979
length 25 minutes
Episodes 13 in 1 season
genre Youth series
Theme music Timm's theme
music Christian Bruhn
First broadcast December 25, 1979 on ZDF

Timm Thaler or The Laughing Laughing is a German television series that originated in 1979 as the first Christmas series on ZDF , directed by Sigi Rothemund . The 13-part series is based on the novel Timm Thaler or The Sold Laughing by James Krüss , but differs in content from the original. The script for the series was written by Justus Pfaue and Peter M. Thouet , the music was provided by Christian Bruhn . When it first aired in 1979, the series became a street sweeper and made Thomas Ohrner a child star.


Thirteen-year-old Timm Thaler has an irresistible smile and is popular with everyone. The mysterious Baron de Lefouet (in the novel Lefuet, an ananym for "devil"), a grouchy businessman who always wears a black carnation in his buttonhole, and his servant Anatol watch Timm and plan to buy this laugh from him. Timm's father is a flight instructor and is killed on a mission flight for the baron. The Baron had a hand in this crash. Because Timm has lost his loved one through the loss of his father, he can now be easily manipulated by the baron.

Since Timm's father had betting debts, the family got into financial difficulties after his death. In order to receive the promissory notes and thus be able to help his stepmother financially, Timm carelessly agrees to the baron's demands and sells him his laughter, although he is not aware of the scope of the transaction and he assumes that he is only giving the baron part of his smile. In return, the Baron assures Timm that he could win any bet in the future, no matter how absurd and absurd. The pact is valid for both sides as long as both parties remain silent about it. If only one partner breaks the silence, he loses his rights under the contract.

The baron makes extensive use of the new gift of winning people's sympathy with Timm's laugh and is successful in business. Timm, on the other hand, is getting more and more unhappy. He runs away from home and decides to take his laughter back. He is picked up on the port area by port operations manager Rickert and taken home. There he learns that a ship is about to leave for the volcanic island of Aravanadi, the baron's secret refuge. He gets on board the ship as a stowaway and meets Sister Agatha and the cook Heinrich. He bets to be the richest boy in the world, eventually comes to Aravanadi and is appointed by the baron as the sole heir. As long as Timm is a minor, the baron can still decide on the assets.

The baron isolates Timm from friends and family and tries to get him to his side. Agatha and Heinrich, who have found out Timm's secret with the help of the Abbé , try to get hold of him several times without success, and finally leave for Hamburg. The shepherd Selek Bei is now his only confidante on the island. Finally, with the help of friends and family, Timm manages to escape from the hotel on a business trip to Hamburg. He bets Gesi, Mr. Rickert's daughter, that he can laugh again, and he gets his smile back.

Deviations from the literary original

In contrast to the novel, after the accidental death of his father, Timm does not have a drunken stepbrother, but only his stepmother, who, unlike in the book, is not depicted negatively, but rather as loving and caring. Professionally, his father had to do with sports aircraft ( horse racing is just a loss-making hobby for Timm's father), so Timm doesn't get to know the baron at the racecourse, but at the family festival at the local airfield.

In place of the demonic, at the same time polite and urbane Genoese Signor Grandizzi, the sinister private secretary Anatol, who practically never leaves the baron's side, also has special skills and is therefore just as successful as the baron's spy and henchman . Furthermore, Mr. Rickert is not a shipping company director in the series , but only a minor employee and the first victim of the baron's ruthless purchasing policy. Instead of Kreschimir, the resolute nun takes on Sister Agatha Timms on the ship. She is supported in this by the somewhat simple-minded ship's cook Heinrich, who takes on the role of the clever helmsman Jonny in the book. The native inhabitant of the country, Selek Bei, appears unchanged by name. In the film adaptation, however, he does not act as a double agent , as in the book , but as a former business partner of the baron who broke with him. He lives as a simple shepherd in the mountains and is at Timm's side with wise advice.

Further deviations from the original can be found, for example, in the new product to be marketed (water instead of margarine ), Agatha's advance to the baron's headquarters (Kreschimir never got to Mesopotamia in the book), and the appearance of other accomplices on both sides (First Officer Voges and the post office owner for the baron as well as the abbe and the bishop for Agatha) and especially in the duration of Timm's wandering, which was shortened from over four years in the book to a few weeks or months in order not to use several actors for the aging Timm have to.



The scenes on the volcanic island were created in Lanzarote . One of the central locations for the television series was the Mirador del Río , a lookout point designed by the artist César Manrique . In the film, the Mirador del Río houses the headquarters of the villain Baron de Lefouet, played by Horst Frank . The pool scenes and parts of the garden were shot in the Jameos del Agua . The first five-star hotel on the island, the Melia Salinas in Costa Teguise , built in 1970 by the architect Fernando Higueras , has also been filming several times with the gardens designed by Manrique inside. You can also see the La Era restaurant in Yaiza , the Gran Hotel in Arrecife and the Timanfaya National Park .


The city scenes were filmed in Hamburg .

  • The skateboard scene at the beginning of the film was shot on Eichholz Street next to the jetties .
  • The scene with the car raffle was shot on Mönckebergstrasse / Spitalerstrasse on Gerhart-Hauptmann-Platz.
  • The scene of the first episode, in which Timm speaks to his father on the way home and is watched by the baron, was filmed in Strehlowweg in Hamburg-Othmarschen . The characteristic fork of the Strehlowweg can also be clearly seen in the first background scene of the animated menus of the 2003 DVD edition.
  • The scene in the subway or on the platform was filmed in the Landungsbrücken subway and S-Bahn station at the port of Hamburg.
  • The scenes at the airfield were filmed at Hartenholm Airfield , about 25 km north of Hamburg.
  • The scene at Hamburg Airport when Timm was “loaned” a laugh for a day was filmed in front of the old Terminal 2. This has since been torn down and replaced by a new building (Terminal 1).
  • The school, attended the voting is, in the film the in Hamburg-Othmarschen located Christianeum (recognizable by the school T-shirt he wears during physical education), which is a known public high school in Hamburg in reality.
  • The meeting of the businessmen bought by the baron in Hamburg (this scene was removed in the six-part version) was filmed in the lobby of the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten (fireplace room) (unchanged since the shooting).
  • The building of the former Hamburgische Elektrizitäts-Werke was used as the headquarters of the Baron in Hamburg, built between 1970 and 1971 with a completely black-glazed facade (today Vattenfall headquarters).
  • The final parts will take place in the Radisson SAS Hotel at the Congress Center Hamburg (CCH). The hotel high-rise was completely rebuilt in 2009, so that nothing has been reminiscent of the former location since then.
  • The last scene in which Timm gets his laughter back through a bet was filmed at the Wasserkunst between the Hamburg District Court and today's Johannes-Brahms-Platz (then Karl-Muck-Platz). This location hasn't changed since it was shot.


Timm Thaler was broadcast for the first time during the Christmas season from December 25, 1979 to January 5, 1980 on ZDF and was later repeated several times, sometimes as a slightly shortened six-part series, in one-hour episodes.

With this series, ZDF began the series of successful Christmas series that replaced the four-part Advent series. The story of Timm Thaler was followed by an audience of millions in German-speaking countries and was later broadcast by the British BBC in a dubbed version under the title The Legend Of Tim Tyler . In 2002, a 26-part animation series based on the novel was also created .

There is a radio play accompanying the series, which is based on the original soundtracks of the film (three LPs and three MCs each ). In 2003 Music and Media GmbH & Co. KG released the series for the first time on DVD. A digitally revised edition was published in 2014.


The Baron appears in several episodes with a black Lincoln Continental Mark IV coupé , which was built in this form between 1973 and 1976.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b cf. Michael Reufsteck and Stefan Niggemeier in Das Fernsehlexikon , November 2005, ISBN 978-3-442-30124-9