The fire which engulfed Henley Studios at the SABC's Aucklandpark headquarters completely destroyed the Isidingo set housed in Studio 6, although some in Studio 7 survived. A sound control room, vision control booth, recording light control desk, video wall, vision mixing bed and cabling running through the entire studio complex were destroyed and walls caved in.
After multiple enquiries a month and a half since the destructive fire which also took SABC3 off the air for some time on 13 June and destroyed the sets of the Duncan Hotel and the Sibeko penthouse, the SABC still refuses to give an estimated value for the damage done to Henley Studios overall, as well as to Isidingo specifically. Estimates run into millions of rands.
Now the soap will once again become a miniseries - for the third time in the show's history, and for at least a month in primetime on SABC3. Where two previous Isidingo miniseries in the past however ran concurrently during the December festive periods as additional episodes to the daily soap broadcast, the new "miniseries" will effectively replace the normal soap with a newly developed storyline shot on location.
Although a more expensive option than in-studio filming, the new Isidingo miniseries will give the production time to regroup and rebuild before the show returns to its familiar studio format.
Endemol SA and SABC3 also plans to have a media session to present the way forward in terms of storyline and studios. "The fire has set the production into a different course; the cast and crew are optimistic that the new storylines are going to make for great television," Endemol SA tells me.
"Our 14th birthday will be celebrated towards the end of the year as the fire has disrupted all our plans. However, we are excited as plans are going ahead to celebrate this important milestone with our viewers."