Best local TV shows of 2019 so far

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The likes of Rotten Tomatoes recently announced their top TV shows of 2019 so far, but there hasn’t been any similar list for fans of local series. Until now. 

We asked five specialists – Candice Fangueiro, head of content at Showmax; Nicola van Niekerk, senior manager: scripted content, kykNET; Tebogo Matlawa, content acquisitions specialist at Mzansi Magic and 1Magic; Tracy-Ann van Rooyen, senior manager: content acquisitions and scheduling series at M-Net; and Yolisa Phahle, CEO of Multichoice Group Africa – to pick their favourite show of the year. 

Here are their recommendations on what you need to catch up on immediately: 

BIG BROTHER NAIJA

Picked by: Yolisa Phahle, CEO of Multichoice Group Africa
What’s it about? In this Africa Magic reality show, contestants get locked up in one house and try to outlast their housemates to win 60 million Naira worth of prizes.

Claim to fame? “This is a show that gets the whole of Nigeria talking, it’s nonstop 24/7, and best of all this show exposes incredible Nigerian talent.”  

Why is it your favourite? “If it’s loved by our viewers, then it’s my favourite!”

Watch the trailer.
Stream it.

EHOSTELA S1
Picked by: Tebogo Matlawa, content acquisitions specialist at Mzansi Magic and 1Magic
What’s it about? “A Maskandi-singing, guitar-playing hitman inadvertently kills the father of the love of his life. That sets him on a journey that will forever change his life.”

Claim to fame? “It was a truly ground-breaking story, telling a narrative about a world many know about but few have dared venture into.”

Why is it your favourite? “It was really just an amazing Mzansi Magic show that we believe changed the landscape of SA television.”

Watch the trailer.
Stream it.

HOTEL S3
Picked by: Nicola van Niekerk, senior manager: scripted content, kykNET
What’s it about? “A kykNET mockumentary about middle-aged hotel owner Ferdie Kruger and his team of small-town misfits, who work together to make the hotel a solid 2-to-3-star experience for visitors. Ferdie tries to keep his team focused on the hotel while running for mayor of Fransenburg. In Season 3, all the staff get involved in his mayoral campaign, but the best intentions lead to the funniest situations and miscommunications.”

Claim to fame? Hotel 3 has been a highlight for us in terms of how fresh the comedy is and how much the viewers loved it. The show is becoming a cult classic and has appealed to younger and older viewers alike. It also shows that Afrikaans viewers love to laugh in their own language and with their communities, despite their exposure to international comedy series. It’s a quirky comedy starring actors at the top of their game. Schalk Bezuidenhout proves that he is not only a stand-up comedian but has incredible range as an actor. It also stars James Borthwick as the stubborn hotel owner and Simoné Nortmann, Mila Guy, Beer Adriaanse, Martelize Kolver and De Klerk Oelofse, to name a few. The show is directed by Bennie Fourie, one of the freshest and funniest voices in Afrikaans comedy.“
Why is it your favourite? “It is really funny, a breakout show in terms of comedy. I love that my husband and six-year-old laugh together; my husband at the word play, and my son at the physical comedy. I also love the guest actors who feature in each series. It makes me so happy that these guest actors are willing to come and poke fun at themselves on this show. I’m looking forward to Season 4 starting in January 2020.”

Watch the trailer.
Stream it.

SURVIVOR SA: ISLAND OF SECRETS
Picked by: Tracy-Ann van Rooyen, senior manager: content acquisitions and scheduling series at M-Net
What’s it about? “It’s the localised version of the much-loved reality series format. Castaways are left on a secluded island and have to build or break relationships to be the sole survivor and win R1 million.”

Claim to fame? “It’s the grand-daddy of reality competition television and is produced all over the world. Its biggest version is the USA version with host Jeff Probst, which is in its 38th season.”

Why is it your favourite? “It’s the most well produced and directed reality show on M-Net right now; local or international. I love the story-telling and the unpacking of the characters’ drive. It’s compelling television and I never miss an episode.”

Watch the trailer.
Stream it.

THE GIRL FROM ST AGNES S1
Picked by: Candice Fangueiro, head of content at Showmax
What’s it about? “It’s an eight-part murder mystery series, set in a prestigious all-girls school in KZN. Kate Ballard, St Agnes’s drama teacher, can’t come to terms with the death of one of her students and takes it upon herself to investigate what really happened to Lexi.” 

Claim to fame? “It’s a beautifully filmed local drama, filled with twists and turns. It had more views on its first day than any other series on Showmax before, local or international.”
Why is it your favourite? “I loved the world of the story – which was captured incredibly well. The cinematography and soundtrack are simply outstanding. This was really something fresh for the South African market to soak in.”

Watch the trailer.
Stream it.

Honourable mentions include:

  • Elders: Japan, kykNET’s travel show with Erns Grundling – “so funny and sweet… our own idiot abroad”
  • Impilo: The Scam, Mzansi Magic’s pyramid-scheme drama show, starring Desmond Dube
  • Kokkedoor 3, kykNET’s reality TV cooking competition that is “spectacular, gripping and a visual feast”
  • Selina, an “unmissable” Kenyan telenovela on Maisha Magic East, starring Celestine Gachuhi
  • Seng’khathele, Mzansi Wethu’s reality TV show about break-ups, hosted by Lerato Mvelase
  • Table Manners, “a really sweet local film” about family, food and love, now on Showmax
  • The Republic, a Mzansi Magic drama starring Florence Masebe as the South African President
  • uThando Nes’thembu, Mzansi Magic’s reality TV show about a polygamous marriage
  • Zuba, Zambia’s first telenovela, on Zambezi Magic