Cape Town – Its proven to be true South African television royalty and from August Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) is extending its telenovela The Queen from 4 to 5 days a week, adding Fridays on the back of boffo ratings.
The Queen – a fascinating local telenovela produced for one of the M-Net's channels provided to MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform – remains a hugely under-reported success story in South Africa's television industry, although it typifies everything that the new generation of South African television production can and should be.
The Queen – with its most watched episode in June that pulled 955 891 viewers to Mzansi Magic in its 21:00 timeslot – is the little TV locomotive that could, produced by the wife and husband team Connie and Shona Ferguson and their Ferguson Films outfit.
The telenovela made its debut on Mzansi Magic at the beginning of August 2016 and the past few months production and production capacity has been ramped up to adjust for the additional weekday episode from 31 July 2017.
"The Queen has become one of Mzansi Magic's most popular shows," says Reneilwe Sema, M-Net's director of local channels.
"As it stands, it broadcasts from Monday to Thursday, but its immense acclaim demands that we make it a full five-day a week show. Viewers just can't get enough of the twists and turns in the story, so we are giving them more."
With the additional weekday episode the cast is expanding with Rami Chuene joining in the role of Gracious, and with Thato Molamu added in the role of up-and-coming lawyer, Bakang. Magic Hlatshwayo returns as Kwanele's supportive dad, Alpheus.
Meanwhile viewers can't get enough of the flamboyant character Kgosi (played by Sello Maake ka-Ncube) who has created a new iconic South African TV character for the ages.
A Queen building out the TV biz
While drawing sizeable audiences to Mzansi Magic – which is what ultimately matters to the bottom-line – The Queen is also working and building out South Africa's TV-industry with novel re-invention.
The popular show is both enlarging and upskilling the local TV production industry, while at the same time training and giving new people a change to learn and get experience as they go along for the ride.
It also does a lot of on-location shooting – for instance filming at rented homes multi-purposed as the set instead of paying for costly studio space - and using rooms, doors and exteriors of one property for instance to cleverly create numerous in-story locations.
The telenovela also gives a lot of young, and new, people opportunities in front of, and behind, the camera to learn and get a foot in the door of the TV biz – again something more in line with the remit of a public broadcaster but something that is clearly an important and integral part of making the show for The Queen's producers.