Pay-TV broadcaster M-Net’s local content channel Mzansi Magic is the first South African channel to commission a locally produced telenovela in English. It will comprise over 208 episodes to be broadcast from Mondays to Thursdays in the 8.30pm time slot.
Johannesburg-based Urban Brew won the pitch to produce the telenovela. South African acting legend Dr John Kani is the executive producer and mastermind behind the series and will also appear on screen.
According to M-Net’s Corporate Communications manager Lani Lombard, Mzansi Magic received 23 submissions in response to the telenovela brief. “Four companies pitched for the commission late last year; three were asked to re-pitch in January this year. Two companies were subsequently requested to pilot their proposals.
“Urban Brew’s proposal made it successfully through all the stages and was put through an audience research phase to ensure that the product would meet audience expectation. This pilot is the most successfully tested pilot in M-Net’s piloting history. In a case of good timing, Urban Brew is expanding its resources as a studio and production facility.’
Lombard reveals that there are a number of ways that locations will be featured in the programme. “We have some exciting scenes set in the 1980s that will feature mainly in the first week of broadcast and we will use a portion of the show for critical story-based exteriors.’
The telenovela genre originated in South America, where it is extremely popular and is best described as a long-running daily series that has a conclusion.
At the time of going to press the name of Mzansi Magic’s telenovela was still under wraps, as was the subject matter. It will be shot in high definition.
The production team will be led by one of South Africa’s best multi-camera soap directors (name undisclosed). It is likely that about five directors in total will be assigned to the series. Episodes will be recorded and packaged four weeks before going on air.