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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

'A perfect recipe': Celebrity MasterChef South Africa press panel talks ego's, philanthrophic food reality TV and the chance of a 4th season.


Following the reveal that comedian Chris Forrest won Celebrity MasterChef South Africa, M-Net held a panel press conference to conclude the celebrity edition of the reality show during a media screening and press event at Montecasino.

The panel consisted of Harriet Gavshon (executive producer), Gideon Khobane (M-Net channel director), Chris Forrest, Patricia Lewis, Donald Clarke (executive producer), and Jane Kennedy (series director).

 TV with Thinus asked how this season managed to find the right blend between reality food TV, celebrities and a strong philanthropic element without having one or the other overshadow the others.

"One thing we want to do was make all the cooks credible, so everyone we got involved were credible cooks," said Donald Clarke from Lucky Bean Media and executive producer of Celebrity MasterChef South Africa.

"For celebrities, they have their careers and their everyday lives, so we wanted to add an extra element that they could play for and that they could really care about."

"The one thing you could see from the show was that Chris Forrest and Patricia Lewis and the others really cared on the show and winning on the show because it didn't just mean that they were able to high-five each other but that they're able to take things further than that and give something to a charity that they believe in."

"The other great thing was that celebrities were able to pick their charities, so they really felt strongly about the causes they were involved in, and I think it was really a lovely edition," said Donald Clarke.

TV with Thinus also asked about ego's - the contestants - and whether the extroverted celebrities displayed bigger ego's behind-the-scenes of Celebrity MasterChef South Africa than ordinary contestants during the previous three seasons of MasterChef South Africa.

"Actually, no," said Harriet Gavshon, Quizzical Pictures director and executive producer of Celebrity MasterChef South Africa. "There were no ego's," she said to laughter from the panel and the press in attendance.

"Once they got in to the kitchen, the celebrities were kind of removed of all of their usual defences, and they were like putty," said Harriet Gavshon.

"I think Pete [Goffe-Wood] and Benny [Masekwameng] ... they had massive ego's that were huge," joked Donald Clarke about the MasterChef South Africa judges. "Such divas," chimed in Ingrid Engelbrecht, M-Net publicist, jokingly.

Asked about the contestants, Jane Kennedy, series director, said all good food reality television starts "with a really good recipe".

"And a really good recipe means that you need a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. And that more than than anything else is what got us to the fantastic 10 people that we landed on having with us on the show."

"Patricia ... how could you resist Patricia? And Chris and Tol Ass Mo as two comedians on the show I think really, really added enormous value to the mix. But not one person could have been replaced with anyone else. It was a perfect recipe," said Jane Kennedy.


With Celebrity MasterChef South Africa "trending" as shared television weekly on social media - as did the finale, as viewers engage with the show on a second screen while they watch, TV with Thinus asked M-Net how important the social media element has become for the pay-TV broadcaster's shows.

How much weight does social media carry now in determining whether a show gets renewed or is deemed a success, and does M-Net now deliberately go for shows that can carry a multimedia, integrated social media and true cross-platform audience engagement?

"Everybody knows that when people watch television, they're watching TV with their phones," said Gideon Khobane, M-Net channel director.

"Some people now watch a whole show on social media, they don't watch it on television. So its obvious that the future is the integration of all the different platforms - television and social media, whether its Facebook and Instagram or Twitter," said Gideon Khobane.

"Obviously Twitter allows itself to tell the story instantly of what's happening. Social media for us ... there's no local M-Net production that doesn't have a social media component. We've now also got a fully-fledged digital team and an M-Net app that looks after all digital aspects of all shows from Big Brother Mzansi to Carte Blanche or MasterChef South Africa."

TV with Thinus also asked M-Net about the possible renewal of MasterChef South Africa for a 4th season on M-Net.

"About a renewal of the series, I don't have an answer about that yet," said Gideon Khobane. "Related to [the renewal or not of] MasterChef South Africa, an announcement will be made in due course".

Finally TV with Thinus asked the panel and the producers whether this season was more difficult from an editing point of view, seeing that celebrities actively seek out the limelight, talk a lot, with the show evening kicking off with kids as well in the first episode, and whether it was henceforth more difficult to edit the content down.

"The great thing about celebrities is they are all personalities and performers and narrate a lot. The problem is that you've got a show where everyone is speaking constantly - so it's about trying to figure out where you can find moments where you can pick people out which is a challenge," said Donald Clarke.

"We never battle to find what you call a sound byte," said Donald Clarke.

"It was a lot of fun editing them. It really was. In the office ... there was constantly laughter coming from every edit suite," said Jane Kennedy, "and you rushed there to see what piece they were cutting. It was a whole lot of fun."


ALSO READ: Comedian Chris Forrest wins Celebrity MasterChef South Africa on M-Net.