Friday, July 7, 2017

Once buzzy, a muted 19th anniversary for SABC3's troubled Endemol Shine Africa produced soap, Isidingo.

It's a muted 19th anniversary for the SABC's once-buzzy weekday soap Isidingo on SABC3 that turns 19 years old today without any fanfare.

The weekday soap that once had its finger on the pulse of actuality-driven ripped-from-the-headline stories and progressive characters got stale as the Horizon Deep fortunes faded in sync with the troubles at the South African public broadcaster, with Isidingo, struggling not just for relevance but also suffering from super low viewership, a shadow of its former past.

Since Isidingo started on 7 July 1998 it's seen big cast changes, ugly cast, crew and scriptwriter firings and several attempts to rejuice the story by introducing new families and locations as it moved away from its aspirational and original mining workers setting.

A real life a few years ago that engulfed the SABC and destroyed the sets and studios that housed Isidingo didn't help.

In late 2016 the SABC and Endemol Shine Africa again launched another new attempt to galvanise the soap creatively, but viewership has of Isidingo has remained depressed and under pressure given the myriad of problems besetting SABC3 as the public broadcaster's only commercial TV channel.

2017 saw several Isidingo run-ins with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) for idiotic production mistakes like using a real person's cellphone number on air - indicative in a sense of the lack of attention to the basics that should be going into something like a weekday soap.

"An amazing team of writers, new faces together with the recognisable and reputable talent have all contributed to the Isidingo success of the last nineteen years," says Pumla Hopa, Isidingo executive producer. "Hopefully the series will be around for many years to come."

"The writers, cast, crew and producers of Isidingo have, in the last six months, committed wholeheartedly to a turnaround of the show," says Jacqueline Achilleas, SABC3 commissioning editor for drama.

"South African audiences are showing their appreciation of stories that are authentic, resonant and relevant and that truly reflect their reality, their aspirations, their hopes and dreams".