Promising "a beautiful goodbye", the talk show host of Three Talk with Noeleen on SABC3 - South Africa's only locally produced daily weekday talk show - stunned viewers yesterday when she announced on her show that she's saying adios on 20 April after 12 years.
On Tuesday morning I spoke with Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu about her decision, what she wants to do next, what she thinks of the the state of local talk TV in South Africa - and how she'll be saying goodbye.
Noeleen, why did you decide that now is the time to step away from Three Talk, because you actually made the decision a year ago?
Noeleen: It was a year ago. You know what Thinus, after 11 years I sat down in the chair one day and I was doing what I did every day and I thought: "What more can I add?" And I really believe - and I've said this from day one, that talk is very personal, and you've got to add something to it.
And you know, I thought, I'm not adding anything. It's time for me to bow out. And obviously I had a conversation with my family, and told the SABC last year, and said :guys I really think I need to leave".
When I entered this arena it was about what am I going to be able to offer? And I just don't think I'm able to offer much more. I think after 12 years, Thinus, you're bored as well of me.
Not really. How did the staff and producers feel when you told them?
Noeleen: You have to ask them. I can't. It would be unfair of me to say "so and so said this". I'm sad. It's a journey that's come to an end. But it's a journey that has to come to an end. I'm 48. I don't want to be on crutches and be walking onto the Three Talk set. I can't wear my high heel shoes!
But seriously. For me it has to be about me. As selfish as that maybe sounds and as sad as it is for people who've been watching for 12 years. You know, I could still go on for another year or two years. But then what? It's enough.
So what's waiting for the next chapter for Noeleen? What is there that you want to do next?
Noeleen: Do you want to employ me? I could be your assistant.
Noeleen: I'm going to be unemployed.
And with the more time - of not being shackled of having to be at a certain place daily to do an hour long talk show?
Noeleen: You know, I've been working since I was 16. So can you imagine. I'm 48 now. For a while I just want to do nothing. I want to wake up in the morning and make my children breakfast, take them to school. I just want me. I just want me time. It sounds very ... but yes, I just want me. I just want to be me.
It's so striking to me that we haven't seen in terms of local South African TV talk more Noeleen's or more daily, weekday talk shows.
Noeleen: That saddens me. I really think that we've got huge talent in South Africa. Huge, huge, amazing people. And I would really like to see another run of strong male and female talk doing daily talk. Of exploring different issues and make a difference.
It sounds very insular when I say I want to make a difference. But in 12 years I hope that I have made a difference to a little girl or to a little man, or to a grown-up woman; some kind of difference. And I do think there is ample space - ample, ample, ample space - for really kick-ass talk show hosts.
I have no doubt that they are there. I know that they are there. They just need to be given a chance.
And then the last question, do you yet know how you will say goodbye or who your last guest will be?
Noeleen: Oh my gosh I don't know! Oooh. Now that is going to be so bad. When I say goodbye the last day [20 April at 16:00 on SABC3]. I have no idea. I have no idea, Thinus. But I hope you'll be there.
Well, we will definitely all be watching. Is there maybe a favourite final guest?
Noeleen: I don't know. It's still how many weeks away? We really haven't decided. But it will be a very fun show. That's all I can say. It has to be a fun show. I haven't been fired. There's no acrimony with anyone. It's going to be a beautiful bye-bye.
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