by Thinus Ferreira
Television brims with brand-new local TV shows starting tonight, Monday 5 April, that will make it even harder for viewers to decide where to watch what, next.
uBettina Wethu, South Africa's local adaptation of Ugly Betty makes its debut on SABC1, while SABC3 opens the gates to its new local soap The Estate.
There is a new timeslot for the public broadcaster's English TV news bulletin on SABC3 that will now compete with e.tv, while DiepCity starts as Isibaya's replacement on Mzansi Magic.
Then there is also the start of The Station as a new drama series starring and produced by Sello Maake Ka-Ncube.
The Estate, SABC3, 19:00
This new locally-produced soap is the newly-cemented cornerstone from which the public broadcaster's struggling TV channel is starting to rebuild its primetime line-up with The Estate, produced by Clive Morris Productions that is replacing Isidingo.
The Estate revolves around a gated South African community named Echelon Estate with the rich "haves" - with the nearby township of Thembalethu "have nots" that suddenly makes a land claim.
The Estate will address issues such as land and identity, corruption, patronage, money (old and new), power, class and equality, all told through a colourful mix of South African families.
Monday's first episode is an hour-long premiere episode, followed by half-hour weekday episodes.
eBettina Wethu, SABC, 19:30
Farieda Metsileng along with a majority-black cast stars in the lead role as Bettina Sikhakane in the South African adaptation of Colombia's Yo Soy Bety La Fea.
The telenovela produced by Known Associates Entertainment will be shown on SABC1 and the VIU streaming service, and will have three episodes per week from Mondays to Wednesdays.
Bettina is appointed as the managing director's personal assistant at Nubia, a brand management company.
Zweli Dube is Dingaan Jiyane, while Tsholofelo Mashishi plays Dingaan's mother and the matriarch of the family. Linda Jiyane and Lesego Tlhabi known as Coconut Kelz will play the bubbly Zaza Moloi.
The uBettina Wethu supporting cast are Michael Potter as Brandon Thomas, Elliot Makhubo as Israel Sikhakhane, Mbasa Msongeli as Mpilo Hadebe, Brighton Ngoma as T-Bang Moeketsi, Ayanda Bandla as Lakhe Amon, Mhairi Fergusson as Amanda, Motshabi Tyelele as Ethel, Jason Willemse as Wendell and Alex Sono as Reggie.
News @ 8, SABC3, 20:00
A new TV news battle is brewing from tonight with SABC3 that is taking e.tv's news offering head-on, and is moving its main TV news bulletins from 21:00 on weekdays to 20:00, directly opposite e.tv's e.tv News.
On weekends SABC3 will now broadcast the public broadcaster's main English TV news bulletin at 18:00.
The Station, Mzansi Magic (DStv 161), 20:00
This new drama series is produced by Taproots Media from Sello Maake Ka-Ncube who also stars as the character of Fix in this new series.
The Station revolves around the backstabbing and scheming between four employees who suddenly become shareholders of a petrol station. Don (Owen Sejake) leaves his petrol station to his four employees, who all start playing hunger games to gain control as personalities clash.
Sphamandla Dhludhlu is Caesar, a young man determined to see the business succeed to improve his life and to support his wheelchair-bound father Themba (Ernest Ndlovu).
Meanwhile, Diliza (Aubrey Mmakola) threatens to take control of the station and run it to the ground. Will the husband and wife team of Cynthia (Lerato Mvelase) and Fix, along with Caesar and Sli (Sibulele Gcilitshana) - be able to stop Diliza?
DiepCity, Mzansi Magic (DStv 161), 20:30
DiepCity is the new local telenovela replacing Isibaya, exploring the struggles of four young women forced into lives of crime in order to survive.
The small-time house burglar Nox (Nozuko Ncayiyane) sees her world shatter after her younger brother Sibusiso (Tshiamo Molobi) is fatally shot during a house robbery that he was never supposed to be part of and that was set up by the security guard Elliot (Mduduzi Mabaso).
After a stint in jail, Nox returns home where her alcoholic father Bonga (Hamilton Dlamini) lost his job and where her mother Thandiwe (Dawn Thandeka King) who works as a domestic worker refuses to forgive her for her brother's death.
ALSO READ: SABC3’s new locally-produced weekday telenovela The Estate from Clive Morris Productions to launch in April as a cornerstone of the TV channel's latest repositioning effort.