Fernando Jiménez del Oso: The heretic of Televisión Española

Fernando Jiménez del Oso: The heretic of Televisión Española

He was a man with an enviable curriculum and communication skills. No area of knowledge escaped their need to know. It is considered as one of the references in the “world of mystery”. He appeared on television, radio and paper. He directed and created his own television programs and magazines. It encouraged generations of curious people, but best of all, it still does. It has been 13 years since his light went out, although his figure is still vividly present thanks to all those who remember him and those who follow in his footsteps. We hope that this brief review will serve as a tribute and, in the process, we would like to introduce you to the brilliant doctor Fernando Jiménez del Oso.

Fernando Jiménez del Oso was born in Madrid in the summer of 1941. He spent his childhood in the mountainous Collado Villalba, in a turbulent time in which some of the great mysteries he would later deal with began to take shape worldwide. His curiosity and love for knowledge and enigmas began to manifest as a teenager, when he began to collect books of all kinds of subjects in a commendable way, since access to information was pitifully restricted in his time by the lack of means. Finally he managed to build an enviable library, the same one that would appear in the television programs he would present in the future. It seems therefore that his interest in knowledge and mystery was innate to him.

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A very young Fernando Jiménez del Oso enjoying a day of swimming on the banks of the Manzanares river. El Ojo Crítico

He studied medicine at Universidad Complutense of Madrid and was an outstanding pupil of the renowned psychiatrist Juan José López Ibor (1906-1991). He graduated in medicine and surgery, although his vocation ended up taking the path of psychiatry because of his teacher, the aforementioned López Ibor. Those who knew him say he was one of the best psychiatrists this country ever had. In those university years he practised rugby and the facial features that would immortalize him began to be shyly drawn on his face. He also showed another of his great skills: drawing. In fact, when he was only 16 years old, he managed to publish several illustrations in different publishing houses.

He worked as a psychiatrist after graduating from university in several clinics, a position he held with pride and vocation until the end, combining it with his work as a researcher. So human and understanding must have been Dr. Jiménez del Oso that, as he said on several occasions, his patients did not want the doctor to find a cure for their problems, surely to have an excuse to spend more time with him. He was married to Dr. Pilar Cores and two children were born from her marriage: Fernando, a biologist and prolific writer, and Pablo.

Fernando had some strange hobbies, because he liked to visit and stroll around the cemeteries, as an explorer moved by an insatiable curiosity looking for some hidden story in the tombstones of those who left this world. He also collected atypical objects that he later exhibited in his office, giving it a peculiar appearance, such as the head of a bat, a headstone or the head of a Shuar. On the other hand, he was also a great fan of comics and cinema, in fact he owned more than 3000 films in his home. He was in love with horror movies and vampirism. He was also attracted to electronic music and among all the subjects he dealt with in his programs, perhaps the one he was most passionate about was UFOs. The human factor of the phenomenon, related to the impact that witnesses experience when they come into contact with the phenomenon, is what caught the psychiatrist’s attention. He joked about the stubbornness of the phenomenon of not letting himself be studied by saying that if they didn’t show up, they could take a “cosmic hike”.

First experiences on television

His media adventures began in 1967, when his dear friend Narciso “Chicho” Ibáñez Serrador, a television and film producer and director, known for being the creator of the famous TV show Un, dos tres… responda otra vez and the program Historias para no dormir, invited him to write a script for a horror story for this last television show. It seems that he had no other choice, as Chicho was bombarded by numerous letters of clean calligraphy sent by a mysterious Fernando Jiménez del Oso. Such was the insistence that the television producer thought they were love letters. The fact is that that year, a young Fernando presented himself with the script of a horror story entitled El Regreso. Ibáñez Serrador thought it was a good story and decided to add it to his Historias para no dormir and published it in 1971, in whose television broadcast Fernando played. This was his first television appearance. It was at that moment, therefore, that a solid friendship emerged between the two television giants and when Fernando’s television career began to take off.

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Fernando Jiménez del Oso (right) in the company of his dear friend Chicho Ibáñez Serrador, as well as having been the driving force behind him on television. Pinterest

Later, in 1974, he was signed up for the Televisión Española (TVE) program Todo es posible en domingo, a kind of miscellany in which sports, competitions, humour, etc. were brought together, and where Fernando would present a brief section dedicated, of course, to mysteries. It wasn’t long before he got his first criticism. In fact, his first program, dedicated to psychophonies, received strong criticism from the Church. These were difficult times for these issues in Spain, as dogmas and repression were still frequent and free thought was conspicuous by its absence. Even so, the courageous Jiménez del Oso continued to do what he liked with a naturalness that he would maintain until the end of his days.

His interventions in Todo es posible en domingo lasted several months. Who knows if it was Fernando’s eloquence, because it was the first time that these issues were discussed in the media or because at that time the diversity of television channels was practically non-existent, the fact is that his space was an unprecedented success. Such was the success that when his program ended, Fernando Jiménez del Oso was insistently called upon to carry out another similar program, but in this case it would be a more committed project.

The golden age: Más Allá and La puerta del misterio

Two years later, in 1976, Fernando began to direct his first television program, which would catapult him to eternal fame. Más Allátransformed television and the way of spreading mystery issues. From 1976 to 1981 the program enjoyed a successful and continuous audience, difficult to achieve even in the 21st century. For five years, his serene, impenetrable gaze, sustained by his large eye bags, his peaceful, cavernous voice and his lush beards, occupied the entire black and white screen, all surrounded by his characteristic office. Several generations will remember forever that sinister cover of Más Allá, drawn by Fernando himself, accompanied by even more sinister music. Nothing resisted Fernando Jiménez del Oso’s passion for the unknown: ancient civilizations, ufology, parapsychology, spiritism, biology, astronomy, history, mythology and esotericism went through the dozens of programs that TVE broadcasted. Fernando used his platform to present the different versions of a theme and sow doubt. Because even though many have branded him as gullible, Fernando was more skeptical than many might imagine. Numerous guests and friends of his generation, such as the ufologist Antonio Rivera or the famous researcher Juan José Benítez, came to his program to debate and share first-hand information about the mysteries that were occurring and had occurred in Spain and the rest of the world.

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Fernando Jiménez del Oso in his office during a Más Allá program broadcasted in 1977, surrounded by researcher and writer Andreas Faber-Kaiser (left) and Juan José Benítez (right). Facebook Group Recuerdos del Misterio

There were also numerous interviews with witnesses of the unusual, who before the attentive and analytical gaze of Fernando related his experiences. It was an innovative project, perhaps the first of its kind in Spain, and in which Fernando did it practically everything: scripts, music, images…. It was very well received by the viewers, who were eagerly awaiting a new broadcast at the end of each program to satisfy their desire to know, wishes that Fernando undoubtedly transmitted with professionalism. Obviously he also had his detractors, although Fernando always pointed out that the number of them was small compared to the number of people who expressed their support to him.

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Cover of the TV program Más Allá, designed by Fernando Jiménez del Oso. El Periódico

Fernando didn’t know the rest and when Más Allá stopped broadcasting, its continuation quickly emerged. In 1982 began La puerta del misterio, issued weekly on Sunday afternoons until 1984. With a similar objective to Más Allá, Fernando approached and disseminated ufology, archaeology, parapsychology, etc., although this time he had more budget and more time to go in depth in the enigmas of the world. It also took advantage of this platform to show mystery documentaries broadcasted by other channels and other television teams, both national and foreign. One of those documentaries was accompanied by intense controversy. The broadcasting of Alternativa 3, a documentary broadcasted by the independent English television channel Anglia TV in 1977 and that had a great impact on English society, served to stigmatize Dr Jiménez del Oso. The documentary argued that a series of disastrous atmospheric changes would lead to the extinction of humanity and that in order to ensure our survival, a mixed team of Americans and Soviets would be working on a secret space program to take a select group of humans to another planet. In addition, some scientists aware of the project would have been secretly killed to prevent them from divulging details about the project. It was later known that the documentary was a fake and that it was a joke broadcasted for being the April Fools’ Day in the UK. Although Fernando warned in the introduction to the documentary that there were already suspicions about the veracity of the documentary and that the film was included in a series of documentaries of a scientific nature (so it was logical that TVE gave credibility to the documentary), Fernando’s enemies did not stop criticizing him and a negative image of the doctor was fixed in some people. Even so, Fernando’s opponents rarely comment that the psychiatrist dismantled several fallacies and unrealistic theories throughout his programs, and that he disavowed and acknowledged that some of his analyses were wrong (an example is the tombstone of Palenque’s “astronaut”, which he analyzed in two articles: in the first, he commented on the possibility that the figure referred to a cosmonaut of the past and in the second, he contextualized it in the Mayan cosmogony, carrying out a more anthropological analysis and recognizing that his first words were not adequately based).

Also on radio and paper

Más Allá and La puerta del misterio were the programs for which Jiménez del Oso was known. But his work on television did not end there, as he also directed several highly successful and quality documentaries, as well as other television programs. Fernando showed with exuberant colors the mysteries that Egypt hosts in his program El Enigma de la Gran Pirámide. Thousands of people who had never seen Egypt with their own eyes saw it for the first time, both the ancient stones and dust of the desert and the invisible secrets hidden in the pyramids, temples and sphinxes of the land of the Nile. Many dreamed of the archaic pharaohs, their rituals and their mummies, all thanks to the professionalism and narrative art of Fernando. The spectacular images mixed with the characteristic voice of the guide of the mysteries have been a delight for the viewers of then and now. Fernando traveled almost annually to that country, which he fell deeply in love with. Clearly, the doctor intended to wrest the secrets from the ancient and wise stones; he wanted to know how the Egyptians did all that with the supposedly primitive means they had at their disposal. It is clear that he did not want to give up until he achieved it.

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Fernando Jiménez del Oso with his son Fernando during one of his frequent trips to the capital of the Nile. El Correo de Andalucía

Fernando also enticed the audience with the numerous trips he made to pre-Columbian America for El Imperio del Sol and El otro México, programs that were broadcasted not only by TVE, but also by several regional television stations, both Spanish and from those American countries. As if he were a native guide, Fernando told the story of the Inca and Aztec empires accompanied by stunning high quality images filmed with huge 35mm cameras; he beautifully described the Mayan art and myths and shared his knowledge with all those who wanted to hear him. The psychiatrist thus achieved to take with him to the whole audience on his particular trip and make the viewers breathe the same wild air of the lands where he walked. For this reason, he is also recognized in those countries where he has walked around so many times. Fernando ended up exploring practically every continent thanks to his television work.

En Busca del Misterio and La otra realidad also allowed an audience eager for curiosity to enter to the unknown in the company of the doctor. And in the series TVE: Operación OVNI brought to light numerous testimonies of sightings of strange luminous objects in the skies from people of all kinds. In the company of J. J. Benítez, Fernando was able to meet with military personnel, pilots and dozens of other witnesses.

But Fernando not only stood out on television. As a multifaceted and renaissance man who was, he obviously could not excel in just one area. He also collaborated in several radio programs in which he related his experiences as Así es la tarde (Radio Nacional de España) or Enigmas en la Noche (Radio Intercontinental de España). However, in this article we would like to highlight his collaborations in the programs Turno de Noche (Onda Cero) and in his successor, La Rosa de los Vientos (Onda Cero), where he collaborated until his death. In the latter also had its own section: Mis enigmas favoritos. Both programs were directed by another titan of the media: Juan Antonio Cebrián.

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Fernando Jiménez del Oso and his dear friend Juan Antonio Cebrián, both of them masters of the media. Juan Antonio Cebrián.com

The relationship of friendship that was forged between Fernando and Juan Antonio was unbreakable and eternal, because not only opposites attract each other. As an example, it is worth mentioning the beautiful homage that Juan Antonio wrote to him after his death (available on the bibliography). Cebrián interviewed Fernando about his travels in search of mysteries and Fernando, as only he knew, told his stories in an entertaining and sarcastic way. He told his bad experiences with the ayahuasca with J. J. Benítez, the adventures he experienced in Pakistan when he travelled in search of the origin of the myth of the unicorn, and many other anecdotes that will always remain in the popular memory. Everyone wanted to count on Fernando, nobody wanted to let his eloquence and wisdom get away.

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Fernando Jiménez del Oso with the journalist J. J. Benítez during his experience with ayahuasca. It was one of the worst days of his life, as he recalled. El Periódico

Fernando Jiménez del Oso also left an important literary legacy. He wrote half a dozen books in which he captured everything that unsettled him with a reflective prose full of satire, characteristic of the best writers. Therefore, it is normal that titles as disparate as El Síndrome OVNI, in which he made a thoughtful analysis of the human aspect of the phenomenon, Brujas, las amantes del diabloEn busca del misterio, his most personal book, or Viracocha, his first novel essay, have emerged from his hands. He also supervised three encyclopaedias and five book collections (Biblioteca Básica Temas OcultosBiblioteca Básica de Espacio y Tiempo…), with more than 150 titles in total. All this constituted a fundamental tool for all those who wanted to know a little more about the always interesting Fernando.

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Some of the books written by Fernando and reedited by Planeta de Libros. Planeta de Libros

Press was another of his strengths. In 1989, he founded the magazine Más Allá de la Ciencia, whose first edition reached a staggering 2500000 copies, an unimaginable goal for many publications from then and now. This publication was so successful that it is still active today, although marginally. He ended up leaving his management to start a new project: the aforementioned program En busca del misterio, with which he would travel with an advanced film crew to various countries in search of the strange. Later, from 1992 to 1996, he edited the magazine Espacio y Tiempo, which brought together a wide range of topics and a large number of researchers and writers. Finally, in 1996 he created the magazine Enigmas del Hombre y del Universo, possibly his most ambitious project, and that continues to successfully attract a large number of readers. In it he integrated a group of enthusiastic young people with a great future ahead of them in the world of mystery journalism and investigation. This magazine was the meeting place where the next generation of researchers gathered, most of them proud pupils and apprentices of Fernando. Some of the most important names are Lorenzo Fernández Bueno, current director of Enigmas and Año/Cero, Francisco Contreras Gil, reporter and writer of several works about the magical Spain, Bruno Cardeñosa, journalist, writer and current presenter of La Rosa de los Vientos, Iker Jiménez, presenter of Cuarto Milenio, and Javier Sierra, writer and recent winner of the Premio Planeta. In them the mark and the good work of Fernando Jiménez del Oso was notoriously marked.

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Magazines that Fernando Jiménez del Oso founded and directed. From left to right and up and down, Más Allá de la CienciaEspacio y Tiempo and Enigmas del Hombre y del UniversoEl Ojo Crítico and Revista Enigmas

Last years

Fernando never stopped designing new projects. His mind was constantly functioning and rarely rested. For example, showing off his passion for film, he was preparing a promising film project, but he would never see it complete.

Fernando left us a sad March 27, 2005, at the age of 63. A damned cancer took away his remaining strength, although it is true that Fernando decided that his medication should be taken away, surely knowing that he had already done everything he had to do in this life. He died accompanied by his family, serene, calm and self-made. He did it on the eve of Easter Sunday. Those who knew him well and knowing that Fernando loved acid humour and winks, have always suspected that this was his last sign.

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Fernando accompanied by several of his disciples and followers, who always had good times with the master of mystery. Facebook Group Recuerdos del Misterio

Few people can live forever in the memory of thousands of people and be so loved, including people who have not been fortunate enough to know them. Dr. Jiménez del Oso was one of those few specimens that possessed that almost supernatural capacity. His legacy is immense. He produced more than 800 television programs and documentaries, published half a dozen books, directed several encyclopaedias and book collections and collaborated in more than 600 radio programs. This is enough to show that Fernando has left an indelible mark on the popular culture of Spain and other countries, and that he will ramain in the eternal annals of history. His legacy is also being strengthened thanks to a new project directed by his son, Fernando López del Oso, who is directing the re-edition of the psychiatrist’s most outstanding literary and artistic works, thus contributing to the survival of the memory of Fernando Jiménez del Oso forever. Also, TVE is recovering all the programs of Más Allá and La puerta del misterio.

Obviously, Fernando made mistakes. But that didn’t make him a fool. Those mistakes were only proof of his intense humanity. For all these reasons, we believe that it was necessary to inaugurate the category of “History and Biographies” with the biography of a character who was the living incarnation of the Periérgeia and who knew how to transgress the monotony of daily life and of the habitual in order to immerse himself in the deep, since according to him:

There is little room in daily life for the extraordinary. A multitude of interests demand our attention. For most people, living means working, eating, having a home and family, obligations and commitments. A thousand things, big and small, that need to be solved. Then, in the background, as something distant, are the problems of each country, each society, each culture. To live is to be aware of what is close. The transcendent, the singular, has little room in our minds. To think, for example, that there are intelligent beings in other worlds and to admit the possibility that they can visit us, is too much to think about. It’s the stuff of romantics or the unemployed […].”

He knew how to transcend the frontiers of political correctness and to give an opportunity to all those defamed and disapproved issues, thus dignifying the so-called “world of mystery”. He rode on the back of curiosity, which led him and served as a lantern along the dark paths of the unknown. He was a person, therefore, who never stayed on the surface, who always deepened as much as he could and who gobbled down any subject that was put in his way.

It fascinates me that a cell, and it’s something in which it is constantly working on, has potentially everything, and that those undifferentiated cells, if you take a group from a newly fertilized egg, you divide it and two whole guys are obtained, and you divide it four times and four whole individuals are obtained. And potentially all that is there. Where is the program, the hard drive in those cells? Where is there a programming…? I still don’t understand all that stuff we handle, and despite how much I read about it, I don’t see that those who study it know why. They know the how, but the why is still a huge question mark. I am passionate about all of this; it makes me restless and awakens my curiosity. If there are Martians, I don’t care…

We can conclude from what was said by all those who established a relationship with Fernando Jiménez del Oso that he was an affable and funny person, and that his television image of a strict and serious person was just that, an image. He was considered an extremely accessible and attentive person, in fact he dedicated a lot of time and helped young researchers who wanted to follow in his footsteps to reach their goals. He was an inexhaustible source of knowledge and an unstoppable explorer. And, above all, he was a person who did not shrink from criticism and from those who spoke ill of him, but always did what he wanted and how he wanted.

We hope that this brief review will serve as a heartfelt tribute to Fernando Jiménez del Oso and that we all learn something from all the virtues he manifested during his life.

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