Watch Recipes For Love and Murder Season 1 on DStv

Sizzle & spice: Recipes For Love and Murder

Local 13 April 2022

Producer Karen Jeynes lifts the lid what went into cooking up Recipes for Love and Murder Season 1

Sizzle & spice: Recipes For Love and Murder

Winter is nipping at our flesh and there’s nothing like curling up with a nice, cosy murder show on the telly, especially when it’s bubbling with local scenery and flavour, superb performances and lingering shots of Tannie Maria’s (Maria Doyle Kennedy) sensual, extravagant cooking. Recipes For Love and Murder Season 1 is our Sunday Night treat on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) – a little bit Nigella, a little bit Agatha Raisin. Go on, have a nibble.

But taking author Sally Andrew’s fabulous Tannie Maria set of novels and turning them into a TV show was like getting a basket full of the choicest ingredients, along with a rough recipe. There was still plenty of work to be done before it could be served on TV. We spoke to the Recipes For Love and Murder Season 1 “MasterChef”, series producer Karen Jeynes, about bringing it all together…

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Watch Recipes For Love and Murder Season 1, Sundays at 20:00 on M-Net (DStv Channel 101)

Cooking up a winner

As a producer, what aspects of the series did you work on?

“I was lucky enough to wear a few different hats on this series. I wrote the scripts; I was the creative producer – overseeing and working with our lead director and the creative heads of department – and I directed a few episodes too.”

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What lines or scenes stuck with you after reading the book for the first time?

“I think the most striking was the first mutton curry, and the notion of offering advice and healing through food. And that abiding sense of the Karoo, and its literal and figurative warmth.”

What was it like walking onto the fully dressed sets in Prince Albert for the first time?

“The pink butchery is a triumph, and seeing it in Prince Albert it seemed perfect, like it had always been there. I'm so pleased they've kept it pink. I think that's what felt good, that so many of our sets felt like they belonged – and at the same time, stood out a little bit.”

What were some of the challenges of adapting the book to the screen?

“Adaptation is a tricky thing, because you always have an audience who know and love the book, and an audience who are experiencing a story for the first time. You need to engage with both of those things, as well as of course simply trying to make good television. I think the heart of the murder mystery itself is something I stuck to quite closely.”

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Which character required the most adaptation to work on TV?

“Our police detective, Khaya (Tony Kgoroge), is a very different man to Kannemeyer, the detective in the book. Khaya is a city cop who's relocated here, who's running away from things in similar ways to Tannie Maria. He sticks out like a bit of a sore thumb in the Karoo. So he's probably the most altered.”

Which scenes did you have the most discussion around with Sally Andrew?

“We discussed Tannie Maria the most, because she's the heart of it all. And while our Maria might superficially be different to the 1 readers have imagined (she’s Scottish in the TV show for starters), I think the inside and the essence of Maria have remained very much the same. That was always the biggest discussion, how to honour and nurture Sally's Maria onto screen.”

Once filming was underway, what’s a scene that you had to go back and forth and give notes on, and what was the real issue there?

“We spent a lot of time on our action sequences, because they're very demanding on our actors and crew – filming on location is always tough, and we were doing so in between waves of the pandemic, so we had extra constraints on us at all times.”

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Tell us about a day looking at the rushes that just floored you with its perfection?

“There are moments of beautiful visuals that absolutely took my breath away, there's particularly a moment with Grace, played by the amazing Lee Duru, in episode 5, that I won't spoil. We have such an incredible cast, and whenever they nail something – the comedic timing, or the dramatic truth of a scene – that's when you feel that happy rush from the rushes!”

What made you think, “Well, there’s always Season 2…”?

“Oh, as a writer I was constantly thinking about Season 2! There are definitely storylines, particularly with characters that played smaller parts but completely nailed them, which you know you want to explore in the next season. And food to be cooked! And a few interesting locations to be explored...”

What do you wish you could have Tannie Maria cook for you?

“I'm terribly torn between the Sex Cake and the roast dinner. It'll have to be a feast with both!”

Watch Recipes For Love and Murder Season 1, Sundays at 20:00 on M-Net (DStv Channel 101)

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Watch Recipes For Love and Murder Season 1, Sundays at 20:00 on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) and on Catch Up

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