M-Net flexes with The Power Of Premium in September

Since the days of Egoli, M-Net has been striking gold with local productions – now it hopes to continue the gold rush with brand new homegrown content.

Heritage celebrations make September one of the most beautiful months of the year in South Africa. Not only is it the start of Spring, it’s a reminder of our self-worth and the value of our heritage. No matter who we are or where we come from, we’re essential threads in the tapestry of South African stories.

Since 1988, when M-Net launched its investigative news show Carte Blanche just 2 years into its life as a channel, telling South African stories with local talent has drawn viewers in, whether we were kids watching K-TV during the 1990s and early 2000s, and seeing South African children just like us, there, on the actual television, or grown-ups, watching wide-eyed and open-mouthed as M-Net launched South Africa’s first-ever local daily soap opera, Egoli, in 1992.

Egoli showed us South Africans rich and poor, English and Afrikaans, conservative and liberal, being messy and hugely entertaining. Eventually, Egoli had American guest stars like Joan Collins and Jerry Springer popping up in the soapie, which had its own perfume, cookbook and fashion line, and its local stars were swarmed during countrywide tours. Now that’s real star power.

Fast-forward to 2019 and M-Net’s top-rated show of the year wasn’t the final season of Game of Thrones or even the blockbuster, multi-award winning historical drama Chernobyl. It was M-Net’s local production darling, the 6-part Deon Meyer series Trackers.

Now, Trackers, we love you baby, but hold onto your crown because in September 2020, M-Net is out to break records again as it brings our heritage to the fore in 2 world-class new local productions, Legacy and Inconceivable.

Heritage & Legacy

Telenovela Legacy, which premieres Monday 21 September at 19:00, tells a dazzling tale of backstabbing and big business among the filthy rich, but through its characters it holds up a mirror to modern South Africa. It’s honest about our issues and about the social, political and financial issues that drive people to succeed, to betray, and to hold family above all other loyalties… until money comes along. The story comes from production super-team, executive producers and head writers Phathutshedzo Makwarela and Gwydion Beynon of Tshedza. “There’s no show that has been made that reflects the kind of lived reality that we experience every day, and that most South Africans experience,” says Gwydion. “The intention with Legacy is to reflect South Africa as it is today, realistically.”

Set a reminder

Phathutshedzo adds, “It’s really a show about a family at war with each other. The family is multicultural and multiracial. What is the legacy of this family, and how do we mirror South Africa’s legacy through this family? Where do I belong in this rapidly changing society? What is my voice, what can I do, what can’t I do? That’s really what the DNA of the show is, and we just sugar-coat it with beautiful sets, beautiful actors, camp melodrama and love affairs.”

Gwydion agrees, “It’s a show that engages in those difficult conversations. All the most contentious topics in South Africa, we will go there with conviction and we will go there with humour. We will shock you. And that is inspired by our love for television and our love for this country. Something that we take very seriously is our audience, we want to entertain our audience.”

Inconceivable, the mama of all dramas

New drama series Inconceivable focuses on the price of being a parent in a world where judging parents has become something of a sport, but where everyone is enforcing their own, contradictory set of rules. Premiering Thursday, 3 September at 19:00, it's a thriller, mystery and drama all in one.

Set a reminder

Inconceivable is a deeply personal story about the kind of struggles that don’t make the headlines – the everyday fight to raise children, to support one another in marriage, and to balance work, home and parenting responsibilities. What is a country without people willing to fight that battle? But this domestic drama comes with some shocking twists that lead all the characters to the edge of what they’re willing to do to get what they want.

M-Net's Head of Publicity, Lani Lombard, says, "It deals head-on with social issues that we believe are important to our M-Net (DStv 101) audience and we are thrilled to present the series in the Thursday-night timeslot previously occupied by touching dramas such as Still Breathing and Council of Dads."

“There’s really a double meaning to the title Inconceivable,” says executive producer and director Joshua Rous. “It’s about the crazy things that happen in normal suburban life, as well as this idea that making new life is often not as easy as we think it is.” Director Rene van Rooyen adds, “It’s a bit dark. It’s about how far would you go for motherhood and how far would you change your own values.”

“It’s a female-driven show where men are going to be like, ‘I need to know what happens next,’” says Executive Producer Meren Reddy. “The story explores the idea that a big decision gets made, and what follows from that is what people are capable of.”

More, more, more local

Going forward, work continues on M-Net co-production Shaka Ilembe, as DStv embraces new ways of telling South African stories. It leaves behind the colonial perspective on King Shaka that we all became familiar with and fascinated by during the 1980s, for a more intimate look at this Zulu Empire, along with the contemporary kingdoms of the AmaThethwa, the AmaNdwandwe, AmaQwabe and AmaHlubi.

“This is not a remake of Shaka Zulu. We all have great admiration for that project, it was part of my childhood. But what we are trying to do is to tell a story from the inside. I felt that story came from an outsider’s point of view of who Shaka was. It was a British settler’s view. That show was in English, we want to tell an authentic Zulu story, in Zulu,” says Teboho Mahlatsi, Executive Producer and co-creator of Shaka Ilembe at Bomb Productions. “The other thing that we feel strongly about is that we want to paint a whole picture of the different world that gave rise to Shaka. We want to open it up a little bit. There was a world that was already in motion. There are all these different characters we want to focus on and tell how they gave rise to Shaka himself. We’ve been researching it for almost two years. We’ve talked to the King himself, we had a meeting. We have talked to the family representatives, historians, and there were a whole lot of different accounts that we had to organise into coherence. And we’re in a good place to start. We’re in pre-production now.”

Rest assured, M-Net will keep upping the ante with local content, with The Bachelorette already underway, and moving dating reality in The Single Wives SA already onscreen in September on M-Net (DStv 101).

It’s part of DStv’s dedication to investing in local content. During DStv’s 2020 Showcase, Multichoice Group CEO, Calvo Mawela said, “We first started with building a whole lot of Hollywood content and bringing it home to Africans. Over time, we started realising that Africans are hungry for stories that are told by people within their communities, in their languages. We started going high for local, which helps us to get rid of dollar-dominated content. Developing countries get hit by depreciation of currency on a day-to-day basis and that increases your cost and you end up not affording international content. We have managed to build production capacity across multiple countries and we’ve continued to increase that capacity to build content. It resonates well with our customers, it improves our return rates, and we’ve seen people staying with us because of it.”

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