SABC3 reveals quarterly line-up


SABC3’s new morning show, Expresso, is the third AFP (advertiser funded programme) produced for the channel by Cape Town-based Tswelopele Productions, the company responsible for the ever-popular and long-running lifestyle magazine show, Top Billing, and the female-skewed chat show, No Reservations, which debuted some months ago.

Expresso (weekdays 6am to 7.30am) was introduced to the Johannesburg press on 5 October at SABC’s Henley Studios, where the channel’s quarterly line-up (ie. October to December) was revealed.

Apart from the three Tswelopele shows, the only other locally produced programming on the channel (not counting news and sports) is the daily soap, Isidingo (produced by Endemol SA), and the daily talk show, 3 Talk with Noleen (produced by Urban Brew).

There was no confirmation at the press function of when SABC3 might start commissioning other local programming. Commissions have been few and far between during the SABC’s on-going financial crisis. An SABC3 staffer noted that proposals had been received in response to the SABC Content Hub’s interim RFP (requests for proposals) book issued on 28 June and that the channel was planning to invite selected producers to pitch their projects.

Speaking about how Expresso had been commissioned, SABC3 marketing manager Risuna Mayimele explained that once a sponsor had been secured, the channel invited a few production companies to pitch concepts for a morning show. “We saw that there was a gap for early morning Afrikaans programming and our research showed that not everyone wants current affairs in the morning. Therefore Expresso was conceived as a lifestyle morning show with 60% Afrikaans content and 40% English.’

Expresso is broadcast live from Cape Town. One of the presenters, Dr Michael Mol, is a Top Billing presenter.

A big focus at the press function was Top Billing’s Presenter Search. One of the judges of the Presenter Search, Alan Ford (a producer on No Reservations), was on hand to reveal details of the search.

“All in all 5,500 people auditioned in the hopes of becoming Top Billing’s newest presenter,’ said Ford. “We had all shapes and sizes, from young to old, from all walks of life, from beautiful to ugly. Top Billing is looking for the next great star in television and providing the opportunity to young South Africans to try out. To be a Top Billing presenter is not a one-show wonder – it’s a full time job that includes travel and endorsement possibilities. So it’s a big deal.

“We’ve been all around the country with the Presenter Search and seen some really interesting things in the auditions. People who auditioned included Cape Town models, actors, radio presenters, doctors, auditors, investment bankers and students. This just proves that Top Billing appeals to everyone. We even had one person fly out from Dubai for the day to audition.

“The top 14 contenders have just been selected and we are going to take them to a game farm where they will be put in situations to see how they react. During her audition, Top Billing’s popular presenter Jeannie D, had an elephant suck her neck. That’s the sort of thing Top Billing presenters have to be able to contend with.’

Once the top eight are selected, they will be taken to Mauritius for more of the same. And then it will be down to the final two.

Ford pointed out that Top Billing’s Presenter Search of three years ago was not as extensive as it started out on the basis of submitted photos and did not involve country-wide open auditions.

Mayimele added: “The Presenter Search has been a really interesting experience for SABC3 as it has shown us just how many people want to be associated with the Top Billing brand. We had 1,000 turn up at 5am in the morning in Johannesburg for the first audition session.’

Regarding international fare on SABC3 in this quarter, viewers can look forward to new series like Top Chef, Top Gear and CSI Miami, as well as new seasons of Nip/Tuck, Heroes, Supernatural and The Amazing Race.


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