by Thinus Ferreira
The mysteries, deceit and secret desires all locked behind a suburban gated community will be spilling out in SABC3's new locally-produced The Estate that will start in April as its new weekday telenovela as SABC3 once again tries to reposition the public broadcaster's struggling TV channel.
The Estate - produced by Clive Morris Productions also responsible for the new Isono telenovela on ViacomCBS Africa's BET and SABC2's Vutha telenovela - is SABC3's replacement for Isidingo that was canned after 21 years and ended a year ago in March 2020.
The Estate that will compete with M-Net's Legacy, produced by Tshedza Pictures, will delve into various South African hot-button issues and forms the new bedrock of the SABC3's latest programming attempt to turn around the struggling channel's image and ratings decline over the past decade.
Just like Isidingo did in its heydey when it caused buzz for things like introducing Nandipha as an HIV-positive character, SABC3 tasked Clive Morris Productions to stir the pot with a mix of diverse colourful families living inside and outside of Echelon Estate.
The new series will be tackling issues in storylines ranging from land and identity, corruption, patronage, money both old and new, as well as power struggles, as well as class and equality.
The Estate will revolve around the people living inside the beautiful homes of Echelon Estate with its manicured gardens, landscaped green parks, a clubhouse, a gym and a golf course - all surrounded by an 8-metre high brick wall and tight security.
Inside Echelon Estate the super-elite are secretly struggling to keep up appearances, while the struggling middle class is trying to keep up with the neighbours, while the working glass "help" serve the champagne, and are little more than "labouring visitors" in this wonderland, although they see and hear everything.
Somewhat similar to The River on 1Magic, troubling is also brewing outside the wrought-iron gates of the estate, with growing pressure around a land claim from the neighbouring Thembalethu township, as privileged Echelon Estate residents fear that the "peasants will be storing the castle".
Long-buried secrets will literally be unearthed in The Estate, SABC3 says, as a deal with the devil is revealed between two bad men.
"The Estate is a metaphor, a symbol of modernity and status - but the show begs the question: Is this all we aspire to as humans? When is enough, enough?" says Pat van Heerden, SABC3 channel head.
"The show tells moving tales of family, loyalty, love, sacrifice, betrayal and human foibles while addressing some of the issues in our country as we scramble our way into the future."
"Clive Morris Productions and the SABC content team have brought us a cutting-edge telenovela which will serve our citizens with world-class storytelling with an award-winning cast, writers and incredible production value. South Africans are in for a treat," she says.
"The Estate forms part of an exciting chapter of SABC3 where the channel is repositioning to reflect a modern, complex and thoughtful South Africa. We will announce these exciting developments."
According to Clive Morris Productions, The Estate will incorporate themes like "identity and heritage, historical disempowerment and the fight for true economic freedom, truth vs lies, corruption and its consequences and other social issues that have relevance and resonance, in the current state of South Africa".
"The show will reflect a wide mix of diverse characters that speak to the 3 strata of society and how they are interconnected. As Clive Morris Productions we are incredibly excited to tell this story."
The Estate cast includes the Phakathwayo family with Sdumo Mtshali as Solomuzi, Jo-Anne Reyneke as Lwandle, Sparky Xulu as Siya, Linda Sebez as Goniwe, Zenokuhle Maseko as Sindi and Aubrey Poo as Castro Kamanga.
The Mokobane family is portrayed by Don Mlangei as Shadrack, Clementine Mosimane as Mmathsepo and Mpho Sibeko as Dumisani.
The Van Wyk family has Jacques Blignaut as Martin and Carla Classen as Tessa as part of the cast, while the newcomer Molefe family is played by Dineo Langa in the role of Mmakoena and Matli Mohapelo as Lesiba.
In the Le Roux family, Nadia Velvekens will be seen as Suzaan, Penny Wolhurter plays Leah and Charlie Bouguenon was cast in the role of Ryan.