SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: The show-stopping feature of Discovery Networks CEEMEA’s 2013 programme highlights event held on 14 November at Nu-Metro Cinema Il Grande at Montecasino, Johannesburg, wasn’t a clip from one of their shows but a live, Matrix-like illusion performed by British street magician Dynamo.
Dynamo was promoting the second season of his hugely popular Discovery Channel show, Dynamo: Magician Impossible. Together with Discovery’s Lee Hobbs, Dynamo announced that he would be filming an episode for his third series in Johannesburg, Soweto and Cape Town.
“In the South African episode I want to show the country’s diverse nature and I want to go into deprived areas as well as rich suburbs. I think I need to meet the people first and let the magic happen from there,’ explained Dynamo.
Responding to questions from the floor Dynamo (real name Steven Frayne) commented that people didn’t like to be tricked, but they liked to be amazed. “I think magic is a feeling you get when you witness something you don’t understand. The same feeling you experience when you are a very young child and you discover something new for the first time.’
Dynamo revealed that his interest in magic was sparked by his grandfather who, although not a magician, used to entertain him with magic tricks. “I used to get picked on a lot at school so my granddad taught me how to take away the bullies’ strength. Magic’s got me out of trouble more times that it’s got me into trouble.’
When asked how he differentiated himself from the likes of David Copperfield, Criss Angel and David Blaine, Dynamo said that he concentrated on being himself. “These other guys are older than I am. I do stuff that’s relevant to my culture and generation and I’m constantly watching films to get inspiration.’
The magician adopted his stage name way back in 2001, when he was performing at the New York Hilton and someone from the audience shouted, “That kid’s a dynamo!’
At the Discovery launch Hobbs and fellow Discovery executives Kasia Kieli and Paul Welling showcased a raft of programmes due for broadcast in South Africa next year on Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery (ID) and Discovery World. All of these channels are available exclusively in South Africa on MultiChoice’s DStv pay-TV platform.
Hobbs noted that the 2013 content is more local than ever, with several new series shot in Africa. “One of these is Jungle Gold, which premieres in April. This gripping series follows two rookie American gold miners as they risk everything to seek their fortunes in the dangerous and gold-rich jungles of Ghana. It proves to be a life-threatening expedition and Discovery Channel captured every moment on film.
“Discovery Channel will broadcast two more series shot in Africa – Bush Pilots filmed on Botswana’s beautiful Okavango Delta, and Diamond Divers, which follows a crew of rugged divers and sailors as they mine for diamonds along South Africa’s Skeleton Coast.’
On Animal Planet in June wildlife expert and adventurer Steve Backshall undertakes a global first by swimming and filming with the deadly African hippo in Botswana in Swimming with Monsters. In August the dramatic series Rhino Wars depicts the fight against illegal rhino poaching gangs in South Africa’s private game reserves.
Other programmes Discovery fans can look forward to include Cake Boss and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, both on Discovery Networks’ female flagship channel, TLC. New series of An Idiot Abroad with Ricky Gervais, Auction Hunters, River Monsters, Wheeler Dealers and Mythbusters will appear on Discovery Channel.
Report by Joanna Sterkowicz