From lobola to gay marriage, SA ‘one of trickiest territories’ for Married at First Sight


Johannesburg. – Married at First Sight South Africa is "one of the trickiest territories" in the world in which to produce the format show from Red Arrow International, says the executive producer of the South African version, Rebecca Fuller-Campbell, who touched on issues ranging from lobola to gay marriage.

"Married at First Sight is a social experiment,” said Oxyg3n Media's Rebecca Fuller-Campbell at the DStv Media Showcase held recently.

“It's an experiment that's taken place in 25 territories, there have been multiple versions of it, and at least a 50% success rate, so actually it's more successful than normal marriages.”

Married at First Sight SA is A+E Networks UK's second local commissioned show for South Africa, following Four Weddings SA also on Lifetime (DStv 131).

"We've got one of the trickiest territories to produce it in with 11 national languages; multiple – absolutely diverse, and we really have to consider that," Fuller-Campbell told the press when she took part in a panel discussion session about the show’s upcoming second season.

"We're genuinely looking for people that want to find love, that had difficulty finding love but have tried everything."

Fuller-Campbell said Married At First Sight South Africa has "to represent South Africa and its diversity. We're not looking to match three Afrikaans couples. We're looking to find different people so we can represent our own diversity here."

The challenges

"There are many challenges that we came up against. One of those is the obvious question of lobola. How do we tackle that?" she said.

"If lobola is important to a family – is part of a tradition in a culture – we have to look at it. What we do in Married At First Sight that is one of the things that we are looking for when we are assessing, is, 'Is this something that is important in your tradition?"

"And if it is, we have a lobola negotiator, we work with the families. We don't pay the lobola, it's still on you – just so you know that," Rebecca Fuller-Campbell said.

"Don't enter if you want your lobola paid, it's not going to happen."

Fuller-Campbell was asked if Married At First Sight South Africa will include gay marriage.

"I think it's very much something that we're looking at going forward in the future. In principle we are very, very open to it. We'd love it, it's happened in another territory."

"There are sensitivities around it, bearing in mind that we flight all the way through Africa, and so we have to be respectful of different cultures and different opinions."

According to Fuller-Campbell no gay people have applied to be on Married At First Sight South Africa

MultiChoice currently deals with a censorship problem where countries from Nigeria to Kenya order DStv content off the air they don’t like that is then removed for the whole of Africa, including South Africa, since particular TV channels have only one channel feed into Africa for instance.

More about the second season

The second season of Married At First Sight SA will start on Lifetime (DStv 131) on Friday 6 October at 20:50 and the first episode will be a reunion show. 

The first episode of the new season will revisit everyone who participated in the first season and show where they are now. The next 8 episodes will then follow the new participants.

Watch a promo here:

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