In the early 2000s, they formed one of the most iconic duos on the French small screen. With the return to C8 of their flagship program “There’s only truth that counts”, broadcast on TF1 from 2002 to 2006, Laurent Fontaine and Pascal Bataille sign their reunion on TV. And they are not new. Even if the two acolytes have gone through turbulence in their relationship for a time, in particular because of their respective political commitments, Bataille and Fontaine have always returned to each other. For Yahoo’s new format, “Unforgettable”, the duo opens up without filter on this very special friendship that binds them, but also on their analyzes – always very clear-cut – of television today and yesterday.
It is without a doubt one of the shows that has had the greatest impact on viewers. Between 2002 and 2006, Pascal Bataille and Laurent Fontaine animated “Only the truth matters” on TF1, thus offering the public anthology sequences. If the success was unprecedented, the bet was quite daring. The show offered anonymous people to come and confront the truths of a loved one (or not), from whom they were separated by a curtain that had become a cult. Symbolically, they chose to open it or keep it closed at the end of each exchange, sometimes tough. Because in “Only the truth matters”, all topics were covered. From heartache to flirting, to conflicts between members of the same family. In the midst of this unprecedented painting, Pascal Bataille and Laurent Fontaine played matchmakers to perfection.
So years after the deprogramming of the show, it was C8 who chose to bring it up to date with reruns that attracted a lot of people. Not really surprising when you know the staggering figures that these archives have generated on social networks in recent years. The opportunity also for Bataille and Fontaine to once again become the cult duo they have always formed on the small screen. And this, even in the face of adversity and the passage of time…
Two angry friends… because of Emmanuel Macron
All those who have been there say it: it is not because one deserts the TV that the projects stop. And these two are the perfect example. After the success of “There’s only the truth that counts”, they never actually stopped. First together, by producing several shows, including “The Cauet Method” on TF1 in 2003, and by co-hosting other programs such as “La belle Vie” on Radio Nostalgie. Then everyone went their own way. Pascal Bataille continues to host programs on LCI or Sud Radio. For his part, Laurent Fontaine immersed himself in the pitiless universe of political communication. “Politicians and real TV hosts are a bit the same kind of characters,” he says, fascinated by these “animals of energy, strength and desire.” From 2016, he is committed to the candidate Macron, and supports its communication teams. This is where the problem lies.
Because, at the same time, Pascal Bataille observes this rise in power of the one who became President of the Republic in 2017. And he is not at all won over to his cause, unlike his television sidekick. Until then very good friends in real life, Bataille and Fontaine no longer understand each other. “It turns out that Pascal had a kind of violence against this candidate, which was unusual” explains Laurent Fontaine today, before addressing his friend directly: “This candidate was not the worst and you considered the worst, in any case denounced as the worst, a lot on social networks. And then one day, it annoyed me. We got a little angry.
For his part, and even if water has flowed under the bridge since then, Pascal Bataille sticks to his positions, and still wonders about the political commitment of Laurent Fontaine, whom he admits to having for a time been considered as “opportunism”: “I was very surprised that you were fooled by the character, and that with your intelligence, your political sense, you were completely under the spell”. For him, it’s simple: Emmanuel Macron is “deeply dangerous and anti-democratic.”
The incredible success of “Only the truth that counts” on social networks
But Bataille and Fontaine recover from everything, and even from their flagrant differences of political opinion. They know it: their strength is television and this bond that shines through so well on the screen. Over time, they have even learned to compose with those who have always “mixed” them. There is Pascal Fontaine, and Laurent Bataille. The two friends always have fun. They are not mistaken when they have to decline the qualities of each. One enjoys an “intellectual and moral force quite rare in people”, while the other stands out for his “creativity and humor”. As for their faults, there too, the answer is clear: they both share the same sense of delay and bad faith!
“Being on TV today is the logical next step”
And in the midst of that, their camaraderie is obvious. It would even be hard to believe that their on-screen duo had disappeared in recent years. “See you on TV today with Pascal, it’s a real pleasure. We resumed very quickly, rather oddly, our old complicities” confirms Laurent Fontaine. Returning to C8 with “There’s only the truth that counts”, it’s nothing other than “the logical continuation of something that marketed very strongly on digital for almost 2 years”. Indeed, in recent years, the show’s archives published on Youtube and Facebook have counted “almost two billion and 800 million views”! public nostalgia, and “a bath of youth” for Laurent Fontaine and Pascal Bataille.
“Cyril Hanouna is the best television host”
So for a few months now, in addition to reruns on C8, the two hosts have been increasing their appearances on the small French screen. And as for Yahoo, they never hesitate to deliver the substance of their thoughts on the tricolor audiovisual landscape, they who know the workings of the programs well. If Pascal Bataille appreciates Faustine Bollaert’s program on France 2, “It starts today”, it is much less tender with respect to the chain. “It’s all that is most dramatic in television, all that can be done that is less creative, less innovative. I find it dramatic. A public service channel that is entirely about Laurent Ruquier, Stéphane Bern and Nagui , and for whom the height of novelty is to do ‘Children of TV’, or Léa Salamé on Saturday evenings” he believes.
“The worst of TV today? France 2”
For Laurent Fontaine, the best TV show of the past ten years is “Touche Pas à Mon Poste”, led by Cyril Hanouna, “certainly the best TV host in the pure sense of the term.” And if they are more than ever in tune with the times, Bataille and Fontaine are above all passionate viewers who are also nostalgic for programs that no longer exist, in particular France 3’s flagship program, “C’est pas sorcerer”, or those which made Canal+ famous for a time, such as “Les Nuls”. In short, you will have understood, more than 15 years later, there is still “only the truth that counts” for Fontaine et Bataille.
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Bataille and Fontaine: “We got angry because of Emmanuel Macron”