This is how it started ...
Sabine was born on July 20, 1967, a Cancer sign, and in Chinese astrology, a goat. She lived in Lochristi in Flanders until the age of four, where her parents owned a butcher shop in the village. She remained an only child. Then the family moved to Sint-Amandsberg near Ghent where she attended classes at the catholic girls school 'Our Lady Visitation' until she was 14. Meanwhile, she sang 1st soprano in the church choir where she found the boys more interesting than God, and was in the catholic version of the girls scouts. No boys allowed back then. The scouts were her first introduction to a microphone and a stage, as even then, she already presented the annual Scouts Festival. In contrast, a poetry competition at age 10 ended rather dramatically: she ended last. Her consolation prize was the last booklet left on the prize table, about ... environmental pollution. Very encouraging. She still has the booklet, the trauma luckily is long gone, the revenge taken by her later job.
Despite her mother's years-long, lingering illness that only allowed her to live to be 66, she had a carefree childhood of good grades, innocent child mischief and sucking all of life, never satisfied, always curious. Back then, people still played in the streets and the intrusive and now so indispensable social media did not exist. Internet? Far future. You went to the library or asked your teacher. You were - in short - free and only had to be inside in time for dinner or at least before dark. Sitting on the windowsills, she and her neighbouring friends really believed they were making this wolrd a better place, aged 8 or so. Her childhood bedroom in their first-floor apartment overlooked the famous Campo Santo graveyard which sparked a lifelong fascination for cemeteries. She later used it as an inspiration for her exhibition with painter Erwin De Bie about cemeteries for which she .... wrote poems (remember the revenge?). And a cemetery also plays the lead role in her first children's book 'The Other World'. She continues to wander cemeteries all over the world, making up stories to go with the names and pictures on the crooked graves.
Because the then still strict, dogmatic-Catholic education was not her 'thing' and freedom and boys beckoned, she wanted to change schools, but was only allowed to do so after a stopover at the Crombeen Institute for a year where she studied Economics and Languages. Meanwhile, she played korfball, tennis, enjoyed aerobics and worked as a dishwasher, waitress, saleswoman for 'De Nacht', a night edition of the newspaper 'De Morgen' at the Ghent Festival, hostess and model. Delighted, she was finally allowed to go to the Royal Atheneum Voskenslaan in Ghent at age 16 to complete the last two years of college in Modern Languages. And then, the really big adventure began, university, Life truly began.
At the Ghent university, she obtained a Masters Degree in Oriental Philology (majoring in Japanese, with classical and modern Chinese as well). A postgraduate degree in Language Arts and Business followed, with more economics, accounting and law. Her studies took her to Taiwan for a Chinese 'bath' and a backpacking tour of southern China.
While she was still working on her thesis for the postgraduate degree in 1990, came the invitation to participate in the former Flemish tv, BRT, program 'Sterrenwacht' presented by Luc Appermont. The latter is still in her life today in their shared ambassadorship of the ngo Cunina. She came in fourth and was invited by a popular radio presenter and walking Belgian music library Gust De Coster for a voice test for the national BRT radio chain Radio 2.
A few months later, she joined him behind the microphone. Their popular Wednesday afternoon show 'Villa Musica' ran for years. Tv presenter Herman Van Molle wrote weekly radio columns, singer Wendy van Wanten called in weekly and stand-up comedian Marcel Verachtert gave her the nickname 'Sabientje m'appelsientje' (people still call her that way).
After Gust left Radio 2, she presented her own shows, 'De Goeie Kant' on Wednesday afternoons, 'Alle Mensen' on Tuesday evenings and 'Hoopjes Koopjes' on Saturdays. For more than ten years she could be heard every week on national radio. She was also a much invited panel member in the immensely popular comic radio quiz 'De Zoete Inval' with -again - Luc Appermont, and 'De Raadkamer' with Geena Lisa, the follow up.
In 1991, she did a screen test for national tv, where they were looking for a new tv announcer. To her great surprise and even greater joy, she was choosen and started working immediately. It did take two years of intensive speech therapy to get rid of the 'small' Ghent accent, an investment that would later pay off as she remained faithfully associated with the BRT-BRTN-VRT (the cahin switched names regularly) for more than ten years. Her favorite quote about broadcasting was: 'Announcing is not difficult but it is not a job for everybody. Something you only realise when you see someone announcing a show like a wooden stick.'
Meanwhile, she settled in Sint-Martens-Latem near Ghent, after have lived all around Ghent, clockwise. And she became a mom, twice. In 1997 she gave birth to her first son Indiana and barely a year later to a second, Noah. Both are now wonderful men and the achievement she is most proud of.
Sabine continued announcing tv shows with great enthusiasm until November 2000 but then the challenge was not there anymore and the combination with two small children became difficult to manage. Back then announcing went live on tv. So during a long Saturday night movie, you could find Sabine in the make-up room, ironing or replying her load of fanmail. Email did not yet exist, viewers and souls in love sent letters, cards, red roses and bottles of champagne, marriage proposals and life stories. Sabine still has them all.
And then, in 1992, came the ratings tv hit show 'The Dream Factory'. Every year the program received the Golden Eye Award from viewers. Sabine was nominated several times as Best Presenter. Five seasons long, winter Friday nights were synonymous for family fun, with the three presenters having the most fun of all. In the very energetic live shows everything was possible and allowed, the crazier the better, Dreams came true and famous Flanders showed its funniest side in the musical stunt at the end. Together with her fellow announcers, she toured Flanders for months with their discomedley. Sabine presented two more seasons of 'De Droomfabriek' with her collaegue Rani but without Bart Peeters, and then the curtain fell for a few years until the BRT wanted to revive the show. Both Sabine and Rani passed the chalice and the show was hosted by Tine vanden Brande and Johan Terryn. The success was never matched again. Everything has its momentum
Meanwhile, Sabine also worked on several other TV shows, as presenter or as regular of ocassional panel member, or as a guest herself. She presented - pregnant - the opening show of 'Kom op tegen Kanker', the wedding of prince Filip and Mathilde with news anchor Stef Wauters and was allowed to give the Belgian points in the Eurovision Song Contest. For years she was also one of the regular reporters on the travel show 'Vlaanderen Vakantieland', she was allowed to travel with all the hugely popular 'Kampioenen'-actors when their tenth season aired, she presented - even more pregnant - the daily summer program 'Reyersdijk', she tried to control her 'Kemphanen' in her own humor quiz, was a guest at Mark Uytterhoeven's show 'Morgen Maandag' with the first BRT announcer Paula Semer, in 'Alles komt terug', 'Herexamen', the lifestyle quiz 'Mensenkennis', 'de Leukste Eeuw, ' as a regular panel member in 'The Table of Mendeljev', in the live Eurovision Song Contest 'The Golden Mermaid' and 'The National Test' (she won the part about Emotional Intelligence), in the humorous-satirical program 'Rosa' , in the hidden-camera shows 'Kattenkwaad' and 'Zomerkuren' , in the sketch show 'Brussel Nieuwstraat' , in the humorous quiz 'Zeg 's eu' , 'De Klas van Frieda' and 'De Drie Wijzen', in 'Jan Publiek', 'Schalkse Ruiters', ', the environmentally friendly 'Ideefiks', the music program 'De Notenclub' and the entertainment program 'Zo vader, zo zoon' -, both with Anja Daems, the showbiz program 'De Rode Loper', 'Het Parlement', 'Bingovision' where she often replaced Jo De Poorter, and together with Gerty Christoffels she went to Majorca with the 'TV-Club' where viewers got the chance to go on a trip together with a number of VRT-faces, and many, many other programs and series. If you had to bungee jump, parachute jump, water-ski or fly with an ULM for a shoot...no problem. If necessary, even twice, "because the recording was not successful.
She was also welcome on 'competing' channels, for example on VTM as a caveman in 'De Vliegende Doos' of Bart Peeters when the latter had made the switch. She was also a central guest there in the program 'Klasgeheimen' with Luc Appermont. In 2003 she also participated on VTM in 'De Keuze van de Kijker', a program by Ingeborg in which viewers decided which program they would like to see on VTM. With 'Kleine Weldoeners' she reached the semi-finals, but the program never made it on air. On Sunday evening, Sabine was also a welcome guest with Luc Appermont in the program 'Puur Toeval' where, together with Jacques Vermeire, Margriet Hermans, Wendy Van Wanten and Gerty Christoffels, she tried to find answers to the sometimes hilarious, difficult, impossible questions from viewers. She was also visited several times by Luc Alloo of TV6.
On her YouTube channel (see link at the top) you can find excerpts from some programs.
In 2022, she then switched to the commercial channel VT4 where she hosted 'Spoorloos' for two years; a program that brought people back together and for which she traveled around the world.
At the start of Five TV, Sabine made a program in which families went on a trip with their kids at home and abroad, with a suitcase full of tips, riddles and good intentions, and a series on alternative medicine in which she herself played guinea pig.
Her 2006-agenda was also full. She was about to fly around the world for a new travel program and take on a few voice roles on a long-running animated series - one of her favorite pastimes - when she got the hard news that she had cervical cancer.
Her agenda was immediately cleared, no one turns out to be indispensable, especially in media land. Sabine had surgery, recovered and did everything possible to be ready to go again as soon as possible, but fate struck again barely a year later: the tumor had returned and with even more violence. Once again, surgeries followed, this time accompanied by chemo and radiation treatments. Sabine received a serious physical uppercut which confined her to her bed and seat for months. But again, she floundered on. All that time, she continued to faithfully write her weekly columns for the most read magazine 'Dag Allemaal' to give fellow sufferers courage. Today, she is very well, thank you, barring some long term side effects. But hey! Carpe diem!
All that writing, storytelling and being able to 'explain things rather well' had always been there. One doesn't start writing 'all of a sudden'. It's like singing and sports: you've always done it. In her school days, her favorite homework was writing essays. She also conscientiously kept a diary as a child and in high school made free book reviews for those who did not like to read (names of fellow students can be requested from the editor).
The press enjoyed her pen and curiosity. In addition to writing columns for Dag Allemaal, she wrote journalistic articles and other stories for several magzines and news papers, was sent into the world as a reporter, for example to travel to South Africa with princess Astrid when the latter was an ambassador of the Red Cross, and so on.
That had to lead to a book one day, and it did.
For the magazine 'Dag Allemaal' she wrote several articles on her travels to third world countries as an ambassador for the ngo Cunina. Publishing company 'Standaard Uitgeverij' noticed her articles were popular and well written, and asked her if she wouldn't consider writing a book 'for young people about young people', based on her adventures. She did not immediately say yes. A book is not an article. But as saying no is réally hard, she said yes rather quickly and in 1997, the story collection 'Goddess of the Cradle' was 'born', about the same time as her first son. And she moved to the house where she currently still lives, hidden between pastures and large trees, her and her family's sanctuary (and that of their cats and chickens, and lately a pheasant). All three became a success.
Her first book has been republished and supplemented with new stories under a new title, 'In America, everyone wears shoes', because a little girl somewhere in the jungle of Congo once said that phrase to her, in disbelief, as she could not believe somewhere in the world all children were so rich that they had shoes.
Her first book tasted like more, also according to the publisher and the press and her readers. So a crazy, supernatural children's adventure series about Remi and Lamya and their friends, a bunch of irregular living dead, followed, one book a year, five in total.
Not wanting to have to fit into any box, she wrote an adult novel in 2009, the intimate and delicate 'August 23rd', about a young woman who is dying and contemplating her life from her deathbed, her relationship with her two oh so different children, her parents, close friends, ex and current husband. And her traumas and secrets. Ideas for novel two are plentiful, check the News-section regularly.
Once a journalist, always a journalist. Two non-fiction books followed, 'Traliemama's' about mothers in captivity, and the 'K-book' about life before, during and after cancer, how to deal with it, healthy food, do's and don'ts, money, sex, love and friendship during cancer, being sick yourself or sympathizing with someone who is sick. By the way, for 'Traliemamas', she took all the photos herself, a, out of control hobby (just ask intimates), and she is always very involved in the lay out and design of her books.
She also writes whatever stuff people ask her to -challenges! yes! - like a puppet show-story for the zoo Planckendael in 2002, a series of 7+ learning to read-books or a young adult-short story about what it's like to live with cystic fibrosis. The delightful boy on whom the book is based has unfortunately passed away, but it left Sabine with a warm friendship and great respect for his sister, Emilie Lauwers, with whom Sabine has since often worked together as her illustrator.
In 2007 and 2008, two educating and funny 4+ picture books were published, with illustrations by ... Emilie, about 5-year-old Oscar. He firmly believes that his best friend lives in space, but space is so BIG and how do you GET there?
Emilie also illustrated Sabine's 9+ world fairytale-book, 'En toen zei de draak' for which she spent years buying thumbed-down treasures of booklets from around the world, locally, online or in old bookshops around the world, adapting and translating them into a readable collection of 30 wonderful legends, enchanting unknown fairy tales and scary myths from distant and ancient cultures. A nice thick book with a golden edge and a reading ribbon, one you want to take to bed every night when you're 9 (and much older).
Art then. In 2012, the delicately designed 9+ art 'picture' book 'Dag meester Raveel' was published, for small and not so small children with and about the famous Belgian painter Roger Raveel. The book is about how to become an artist and how artists think. All illustrations are drawings and paintings by Raveel's hand, some even from his kitchen and living room, never seen before. Raveel was delighted to finally have an accesible book about himself and his work for kids, and he handed it out to the nurses on his deathbed, according to his wife. A memory to cherish.
In 2010 she took another challenging literary leap and published 'High Heels' in collaboration with Het Bronzen Huis, a three-book ero-series in which two other woman aprticipated. The series sold like hot cakes and was completely sold out in no time (sorry!, with some luck, you might find it secondhand).
Sabine also gives writing courses (on writing for kids), was a member of the ECI Verhalenwedstrijd-jury for many years, together with renowned writers, and a member of the Literary Bursaries Committee-jury of Sabam, the Belgian association for authors, composers and publishers.
She is a busy speaker all over the country where she is invited by young and old alike, reading from and talking about her books. She is a subsidised author. Lectures can be booked via www.auteurslezingen.be. Be quick, only 15 per year are available.
When asked and if time permits, she also helps and guides (beginning) writers, at their request or that of a publisher.
You can find most of Sabine's books in your library, some are available as E-books online, still others are unfortunately no longer for sale in physical book form because they are not reprinted, such as the book on Roger Raveel which is still in high demand. Some books - not all - (personalized and/or signed) can still be ordered at her Bookshop.
She is currently working with her partner prof. dr. Dirk De Ridder, a neurosurgeon, on a scientific novel (in English), a quite new genre, about the workings of the brain. What does the brain have to do with beauty, religion, philosophy, the organization of a society? How did our brains originate, how do they evolve during our lifetime, and what do we humans have in common with bacteria, sponges and elephants? And what can go wrong between your ears? Quite a lot, as it turns out, and genetics and epigenetics play a crucial role in this. Main roles in this book are also for Aristotle, philosophy, Thomas Bayes, art and travel which they both love. So whilst reading a lot you never knew about your brain, they take you on their own world journey and life path. Expected in 2023.
That voice!: voice over en voice acting
She is maybe even more recognised by her voice then by her face, because she doesn't only use it on tv and radio; she is also a much sought-after voice actress for commercials, audio guides and -books, animation series and films, online courses, multilingual phone systems and so on. She voice acted an old tree with a cold for an animation short, Mata Hari for the Spy Myseum in Washington, a Disney princess, a crazy housewife for a brand of cleaning products and the mother of Paddington Bear in the two movies, and she is the voice of many museums and exhibitions' audio guide, like Nefertiti and the STAM-museum in Ghent. For Ketnet, she read all the voices for the series "Tales from the Magic Box. For 'Zoom, the white dolphin', she was also the voice director and translator.
She works from her own home studio or is booked by clients or recording studios directly. To book Sabine ('s voice), just send an email via Contact.
On fine day, she met namesake Sabine Martens when their sons became buddies in kindergarten. Since then, people know hem as 'the Sabines'. because it turned out both complemented each other very much creatively: Sabine DV an unquenchable, overenthusiastic idea factory, Sabine M more thoughtful, an artistic jack-of-all-trades and very creative with Doodah clay. Modeling and fantasizing together, they created 'Raf and Rosette', mouse twins named after Sabine DV's parents. The mice kids live in the enchanting Loppem castle in Flanders where they have to deal with an VERY old count who HATES mice, as do his lazy cleaning lady and the mice-murderous gardener. But there is so much to EXPLORE in such a big castle with their wacky friends, like a mouse who thinks he is a bat but unfortunately can't fly, at all, but who is GREAT at falling on his face. 'Raf and Rosette' had international plans and became 'Ray & Ruby'. The official Belgian kids chain Ketnet jumped on board, as did the Flemish Audiovisual Fund, the 2D/3D-animation Ghent based studio Creative Conspiracy and the live action studio Beast Animation. All originally collaborated with the help of the tv production company Eyeworks, and the team was selected for Cartoon Forum in Sopot, Poland, where they presented their mouse world appropriately (see photo). Enthusiasm everywhere, but it took until 2022 for the series - with a smaller team led by CC - to be ready to conquer the world. To be continued!
In 2022, Sabine wrote the screenplay for the animated short film 'Bobonnekoekjes/Les Biscuits de Mamy', based on a kids book she once wrote. At the animation festival 'Les Nuits magiques' in France, the film won both the 'Young People's Prize' and the 'Prize of the schools', the target audience. Who could aks for more? Meanwhile, the film is invited at several festivals, is shown in Belgian and French theaters and more than 175 000 kids have seen it (still counting).
Trailers of both can be found on her YouTube channel.
Having lived on stage for so many years, Sabine still is the host of many multilingual debates, company celebrations in Belgian and abroad, shows and discussions. Just send an email via Contact if you'd like to know more.
It will be obvious by now: Sabine was born with the travel bug. Besides going to study and traveling around Taiwan and China, love took her to Marbella in Spain where, to earn money, she worked in a mega-dancing as a hostess for the artists who were flown in for a concert, like Rod Stewart, Queen, Sade and so on. Fun times!, but the love didn't last. So lovesickness took her to a kibbutz in Israel, followed by a trip through Egypt where she mostly saw the bottom of a cheap bunk bed, deathly ill, but nevertheless her wanderlust was and is unstoppable.
She was fortunate enough to travel a lot and often for her work: for the travel show 'Vlaanderen Vakantieland', she fluffed out virtually the whole of southern France, Menorca, Mallorca and the Dominican Republic, for 'Tien Jaar Kampioen! she traveled with every Kampioen-actor to a surprise destination in and far from Europe. Her tv show 'Spoorloos' also took her around the world. The travel magazine 'Uit Magazine' sent her to Malaysia and Thailand to try out the Orient Express. Her children's books also involve travel, to India, South Africa or all the way to the ocean floor (Sabine is a diver herself), and her world fairytale-book is a full world trip. As an ambassador for the ngo Cunina, she traveled to the Philippines, Haiti, Brazil, Congo, South Africa and Nepal. On the list: Peru and Oeganda, the only two Cunina-partnering countries she has not yet visited, partly because of the travel restrictions during Covid19.
Privately, the countries she visited are beyond counting, but there are many more on the wish list. She often stays in New Zealand where her partner is a professor. Warm places are preferred, thank you. Every work or tv-offer that would bring her to really cold places, like the endurance show '71° North', have so far been rejected without a second thought. That travel will continue to feature prominently in her future plans is a certainty.
Ambassadorship ngo Cunina
Since its start in 1990, Sabine has been a volunteer (read: unpaid) ambassador for the ngo Cunina, based in Geel in Belgium. She was immediately won over by the idea of individually helping one child in a developing country to study, and noticed Cunina works very transparently. The passionate and inspiring founder and still president Sophie Vangheel, now 75+ and honorary citizen of her hometown Geel, became a friend for life. In 2015, Sabine wrote her biography, 'Mother of 12000 children' (for sale via www.cunina.org). Meanwhile, there are a few thousand more.
Cunina worked in Congo but due to political instability and the impossibility of guaranteeing that everything goes as Cunina demands, the projects there were stopped. In seven other countries however (the Philippines, Haiti, Nepal, South Africa, Peru, Uganda and Brazil), schools, dormitories, dining halls and sanitary facilities are being built, water pipes laid, solar panels installed, teachers trained and, above all, children up to the age of 18 are being schooled. After the age of 18, good students who want to continue their studies, can apply to the 'Cunina Study Fund'. Doctors, hundreds of nurses and teachers have already graduated, as well as good plumbers, carpenters and seamstresses, because there are also sewing workshops and carpentry workshops, not only for the children but sometimes also for the parents to use after school hours, so they can contribute to the education of their children and become a little more independent. Because the ultimate goal is to become self-sufficient, so that one day, Cunina will no longer be needed. Teaching people to fish, not give them fish.
During their many trips together, Sophie learned that Sabine often suffers from insomnia, is terrified of anything with eight hairy legs, loves to dance and sing with the kids and has been a loyal ambassador for more than 30 years. Cunina is family. Initially, the now deceased trumpeter Theo Mertens was also an ambassador because in the beginning Cunina mainly collected money with classical concerts, later tv presenter Luc Appermont followed, succesful businessman Wouter Torfs, tv presenter Nathalie Meskens and, most recently, singer Natalia joined in. The five of them make documentaries for radio and TV, write articles, present Cunina's events, organize concerts with befriended artists or just help explain waht Cunina is and does to anyone who wants to listen (or not).
Cunina works with individual godparents (35 euro per month, tax deductible and therefore only half) and long-term collaborations with companies. But every euro is always very welcome!
Sabine herself first helped Marlon Joseph Parong from the Philippines. Marlon continued higher studies and now has a good job in an international IT company. He lives with his own family in their own house - he even bought one for his mom - and his children go to a good school. He doesn't need Sabine or Cunina anymore and that's the way it should be: the circle of poverty has been cut.
Next came the timid orphan Bhuwan Khatri from Nepal whose both parents died of AIDS. He lived for a long time in a Cunina hostel high in the Himalayan mountains and graduated as a teacher. He lives and works in Khatmandunow, and the children in his class just love him. Bhuwan has become a kind, beautiful, mature, independent man, with a diploma, thanks to Cunina.
Together with her partner Dirk and her adult sons, Sabine now supports little Manisha Gurung, also from Nepal.
From 2000 to 2006, Sabine was also elected city councilor for a liberal VLD+ -list in Sint-Martens-Latem, she was the +, as she absolutely wanted to remain independent. In 2006 she became alderman. She did so conscientioulsy until 2012, responsible for Environment, Education, Family and Development Aid, all very much her cup of tea. But the politics themselves, slooooow, very party-driven, even on a local level, and not always based on mutual trust and respect, made her decide not go stand in the following election. Although she was, and often still is, asked by various parties to participate on a national level, but she has never said yes so far because being politically colorful yet colorless is virtually impossible, and she cherishes her independence very much. Not much good has come of stringent party membership cards yet. But never say never.
Futile little facts
Her thesis was a translation of a Japanese novel on 'karayukisan', poor woman who were forced to become overseas prostitutes.
Sabine's first tv-appearance was in the music show 'Super 50' where she actually got to dance with presenter Koen Wauters, leaving the female half of the Flmeish population jealous.
She was the face of the environmentellay friendly cleaning products Ecover for a year out of care for ur planet, one ofher main concerns, for many years she was the gomother of the 'Belgian Improvisation League', together with the popular tv presenter Rob Vanoudenhoven. And she was the face of a large campaign to convince all girls to get vaccinated againt cervical cander, now automatically given in all schools, also to boys.
Although the theater stage has not been her main stage, she wrote and performed a children's theater tour in 2001-2002, 'From Jungle to Jungle,, based on her first children's book 'Goddess of the Cradle'. The music was performed live by musician Jan Marmenout who literally gets music ut of a stone.
Together with illustrator and painter Erwin de Bie, she exhibited her poems about death and cemeteries at the medieval Gravenkasteel in Ghent, 'Kerkhofblues', where he exhibited paintings based on her poems.
And, Sabine loves to sing. She sang in a band of the East-African Circle at university, and in a rock band, 'The Few', which terrorized her vocal cords to such an extent that an operation was necessary. Three weeks of speaking prohibition. Afterward, she became the first backing vocalist of the popular 'Dinky Toys'-band until Geena Lisa took over. Most musicians are still true friends and continued playing in several bands. She also took teh stage with Blue Blot and the cover band, the LSP band.
Who knows, maybe one day, some soft bluesy, jazzy ballads - only voice and piano - will follow. Someday, when there is more time.
There are lots more futiel littel facts, but let's keep some private...