Cape Town – Carte Blanche on M-Net is charting forward in its 31st year on South African television with a new on-air look, logo, slogan and theme music with the iconic weekly current affairs show that remains undeterred in exposing the truth and doing hard-hitting investigative TV reporting and interviews.
The current affairs show from Combined Artistic Productions that started in August 1988 celebrated its 30th anniversary on Sunday evening on M-Net (DStv 101) with a special 90-minute look-back programme running through a treasure trove of highlights from the past 30 years.
Carte Blanche introduced a new opening theme that echoes back to its classic roots after having done over 5 000 stories, had more than 70 000 minutes on air and won over 230 international and local awards and counting.
While the anchors and crew did Sunday's episode from a beautiful redress for the night of the new SuperSport studio and with Derek Watt's former co-anchor Ruda Landman who returned for a special appearance, M-Net at the same time held a viewing celebration party across the road inside MultiChoice City in Randburg.
Journalists and TV critics, M-Net and MultiChoice executives, lawyers, other stakeholders and sponsors, producers and TV stars, gathered to watch the special broadcast, followed afterwards by a special Carte Blanche cake-cutting ceremony on stage and a blowing out of 30 candles by executive producer Wynand Grobler, alongside Derek Watts, Ruda Landman, Macfarlane Moleli, Claire Mawisa and Devi Sankadee Govender.
"Carte Blanche is an absolute incredibly important show for us," said Jan du Plessis, director of M-Net channels. "With so much negativity and craziness in the world, it is always important to take the time to recognise those who have taken on the mantle of what I call lightbearers - bringing insight and information to all who watch the show".
"For many of us, Carte Blanche is the way in which we end our weekends. For 30 years we have sat down on a Sunday and consumed the stories brought to us, shedding light on so many issues that face South Africans on a daily basis."
"In all of the noise and chaos, unwaving resolve is becoming scarce. Carte Blanche has exposed corrupt politicians, individuals and organisations. The show has shed light on the truth and given a platform to those who have no voice."
"On behalf of M-Net and MultiChoice I would like to congratulate every person involved in making Carte Blanche happen every single Sunday night. Your contribution and passion is appreciated and celebrated. The cream of our award-winning South African journalists provide the heartbeat of this incredible show. Thanks to every single person whose name appear on the end-credit list of Carte Blanche."
COMMITTED TO IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATIVE CONTENT
Grobler said "it takes serious courage, determination and compassion to remain relevant to thousands of viewers as the longest running current affairs show on South African television".
"Carte Blanche has evolved over time but remained relevant in a changing society, with compeletely different needs, hopes and desires. Carte Blanche has always aimed to be an independent, clear and unambiguous reflection of society whether it be through in-depth investigations, or by being in the thick of the action both locally and internationally."
"We're entering our 31st year with a completely new but somewhat familiar look - a new title sequence, logo, soundtrack, and an updated look and feel. What remains the same is our commitment to in-depth investigative content that doesn't shy away from the truth but with the aim of making a real difference," said Grobler.
"Our motto going forward is that truth brings change. With that comes a new focus on story telling, an emphasis on dramatic visuals, unflinching analysis and high production value."
"The bring thing is to help bring change. To investigate.To follow up and to go back and see if there's been a difference; if something's changed."
Channel24 asked him what he learnt from George Mazarakis, the previous executive producer, and he said "one of the things I've learnt from him is to have guts, to be brave".
"You're often alone in this situation. There's a lot of people working and everybody is busy with something, but at the end of the day you're sitting alone when you have to make extremely important decisions. So you have to believe deeply in yourself and believe in the story. And know that no matter what, it will be worth it telling it. It's important to have the guts to take it on and to see it through".
Channel24 asked Ruda Landman how she felt being back on set and she said "it was hugely enjoyable. It was just such a familiar feeling - and of course to see Derek there again. It almost felt as if I was back permanently. And the new presenters - they're amazing. And the set is wonderful. It's the most beautiful set I've ever seen".
"Why a show such as Carte Blanche is important for South Africa, she said "it tells the story of South Africa - with all the good and the bad. And it's not just the investigative stories. The story of Carte Blanche is the story of South Africa. And we forget so soon. I think it's important that we remind ourselves of it."
Derek Watts told Channel24 that "to be back with Ruda was special and she was a very special lady. Tonight was -and it sounds like such a cliche - but it was a trip down memory lane. And just to see how things have changed over 30 years. And I'm grateful that, the people in the studio, when they saw me from 30 years ago, that they didn't laugh because I think I have changed a lot!"
"Carte Blanche has always been important for the country because I think truth brings change. Carte Blanche does bring that element to stories. We don't have agendas, we're never told how to do a story. M-Net is a very brave broadcaster. We've learnt from 60 Minutes in America. And we don't have a comfort zone. We actually are as good as our last story - that's why we keep going".