Actor Neels van Jaarsveld is famous for 3 things: “that” Op My Eish brandy advert, playing Ben van Wyk in law drama series Fynskrif, and having a cheeky-but-adorable grin. The normally quiet 41-year-old is on a new TV quest, this time swapping acting for the real-life adventure of searching for romance, with his own reality series, Op My Eish!, which airs Thursdays on kykNET (DStv channel 144) at 20:00.

Don’t expect the typical reality dating show, says Neels. “I'm not going to give away roses like in The Bachelor SA and The Bachelorette SA. I’m not going to be wearing a tailored suit, either. I’m going to be me. What you see is what you get.

Watch kykNET Watch Op My Eish

Laughs & love

Entries for the reality show took place on social media and some of the comments left Neels laughing. Several women added, “If only I was younger and could enter,” like one user who posted, “Neels… you are a gorgeous old bull, but I'm ready for grandchildren, so I’d rather just watch and support your search from the couch.” And a couple of 20-year-olds were keen to enter too despite the 20-year age gap. “How do they say it, that you're not old, just experienced?” says Neels with a laugh. “I don’t know what to expect, I don’t know who I’ll meet, but I am looking forward to going on interesting adventures with the ladies and romantic dates and seeing where we end up.”

The show’s name is also a laughing matter for Neels, who went viral for his advert with a well-known alcohol brand in which he said “Met eish” (a play on the Afrikaans “Met ys” – “with ice”). “I didn’t want the title to be quirky or cheesy, so I made the proposal with its double meaning and then the production house liked it.”

Real-deal dates

Unlike The Bachelor series, viewers can look forward to a more realistic feel Op My Eish!. Neels promises that “creating sensation with high drama that sometimes happens in The Bachelor series isn’t what we’re focusing on. We’re rather focusing on adventure and activities in and around my area of Botrivier in the Western Cape. Expect golfing and surfing among the activities because I love them, and I want the women to get to know me at ease.”

Neels adds that he wants to portray a realistic look at navigating love in the modern (that includes COVID-19) world. “I want to show more realism than just creating the illusion of reality. I want to see real reality TV. I want to see how they are if they see that there aren’t huge mansions, flashy cars and perfect middle lanes, will they still want to stay?” says Neels, wondering if the contestants are entering to date down-to-Earth Neels or fancy, polished lawyer Ben from Fynskrif.

“I find the concept of a dream woman dangerous,” says Neels honestly. “I don’t know if such a thing exists. I’m looking for someone who’s funny, witty and easy going. Someone who will accept me for who I am.”


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Man at arms

With such a daunting “challenge” ahead of him, Neels is coming prepared – with his actor bestie Henré Pretorius (Dewald in Fynskrif) acting as his wingman. “Neels has a sharp sense of humour, he’s a deep thinker and very intuitive. Like most actors, he is very in touch with his feelings. Neels is also a very loyal friend. He is that guy who will come and help you if you are stranded with car problems somewhere in the middle of the night,” says Henre, adding that he won’t be influencing Neels in any way, but rather “just being there”. “On the show, I am Neels’s confidante, and he unloads his feelings on me. So I'm just a shoulder to him (on Op My Eish!). I’m not going to tell him ‘this lady’ or ‘that lady’. My advice to him is going to be to trust his instincts and make sure there’s a connection.”




Daunting dater?

Neels isn’t going into Op My Eish! blind, though – he’s done research. “I’ve caught a couple of Bachelor SA episodes, as well as episodes of Afrikaans dating show Boer Soek ’n Vrou, too. I laughed at all of these random attractive people and they’re now being challenged to find love… on a TV show… without being intimate. That’s impossibly difficult,” says the actor, admitting that it was a surprise when kykNET and production company Wakanda Media SA approached him with their pitch “I actually thought that they wanted to make me the presenter. I had no clue they’d want me as the single guy looking for love.”

So why would Neels agree to expose his heart on TV screens? “I have never been someone who gets scared of an adventure or a challenge that comes my way. I think the one thing you have to realise about life is that you will never know how things will turn out if you don’t give them a chance.”

Watch Op My Eish! S1 from Thursday, 22 April on kykNET (DStv channel 144) at 20:00

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