Monday, May 25, 2015
e.tv embracing the telenovela genre; next local mining drama telenovela, Gold Diggers, in production; another 2 telenovelas in development.
e.tv which has found ratings success by embracing the telenovela genre is ramping up to bring viewers the next one entitled Gold Diggers, with another two telenovelas already in development.
South Africa's only free-to-air commercial TV broadcaster has found success with the popular funeral-home set Ashes to Ashes which started in March and which was quickly extended from four to five days a week at 20:00 on the e.tv schedule.
So successful has the breakout show been which scooped up several of SABC1's fired Generations actors who've found new love from audiences who've crossed over, that the telenovela – a limited episode soap with a definite ending – might actually now become a primetime drama series.
Set to conclude in early August, all indications are there that Ashes to Ashes will return to the e.tv schedule in months.
The Ashes to Ashes cast is going to expand with brand-new characters just months before its August conclusion – something which never happens to a TV production winding down.
Furthermore the end in August is also suddenly quietly, yet noticeable, now being billed by e.tv as the "season finale" and not the "series finale" – a subtle yet important difference.
I can reveal that e.tv's second locally produced telenovela, Gold Diggers, will follow Ashes to Ashes in the spring schedule and will revolve – very much like when SABC3's soap Isidingo began before it steadily moved away from its roots – around an extended mining community and the complexities of South African miners'
"The locally produced telenovela as genre is here to stay," Monde Twala, the managing director of e.tv channels told me.
"Local telenovelas are definitely here to stay. e.tv's got a longterm view on our telenovela slate. We already have another telenovela coming which is Gold Diggers and we already have another additional two telenovelas in development".
"Ashes to Ashes was not an experiment. It's part of a strategy to try win audiences in that 20:00 timeslot and we've managed to do that by a few percentage points. It's a good news story but we have to commit to the strategy," says Monde Twala.
"You can't fool the South African market. We can't fool our audience. The expectation is even greater so we're going to continue doing telenovelas".
Gold Diggers: 'Going to be very exciting'
"Gold Diggers is about what runs this country; this economy. It will represent a part of our country and our economy that's mostly been forgotten – and that is the miner. We're a mining country," says Monde Twala.
"I think the stories and the people who are in that environment – they're forgotten and it needs to be told."
"Gold Diggers revolves around an ambitious man who in his world has different relationships. Typically a miner is polygamous," teases Monde Twala, "he's got a wife in the city and a wife back at home. So you can imagine all of these different levels of relationships."
"We tap into that as well as the realities of our country – we recently had a mining crisis, mining strikes, as well as the whole illegal mining, zama zamas [illegal miners] thing. So we're consolidating all of that in the Gold Diggers universe. It's going to be very exciting," says Monde Twala.
SABC1's first local telenovela Uzalo, also introduced to viewers for the first time earlier this year, has similarly been popular with viewers, while SABC2 last year also promised a yet-to-appear local telenovela for 2015 for that TV channel of the public broadcaster.
MultiChoice, which started with Universal Networks International’s (UNI) Telemundo Africa as a telenovela TV channel sourced from South America, has found great success across the continent since its introduction on DStv.
It's led to the recent introduction of a second South American telenovela channel named Eva on DStv's satellite pay-TV platform earlier this year, as well as a Bollywood channel version, Zee World, also showing locally-dubbed Indian telenovelas.