Rising up to the challenge: DStv in 2020
A lot happened in 2020 – not least of which occurred on our screens! We take a look at some of the most memorable moments that TV had to offer over the past 12 months.
There’s a lifetime of TV to watch no matter which DStv package you enjoy. But with so much top entertainment readily available and so little time, there’s a lot you might have missed out on during the year that was 2020.
Here are some of the top TV moments that took place on six of DStv’s most popular channels in 2020…
M-Net masters entertainment
M-Net (DStv 101) had viewers hooked to their small screens through 2020. Starting in the most unexpected way, international reboot show BH90210 answered that question we’ve all been asking: What happened to the cast of iconic teen drama Beverly Hills, 90210. Jason Priestley, Shannen Doherty, Tori Spelling and co returned in the roles that made them famous as young adults in the ’90s. Tragically, it reminded us of losing Luke Perry in 2019, which we would again be reminded of when Riverdale, his most recent work, honoured him later in the year for his role as do-good-dad Fred Andrews.
Audiences were all smiles during the culmination of The Bachelor South Africa S2, when S2 heart-throb singleton Marc Buckner went home with a romantic partner – Marisia van Wyk. After months of tears, kisses and dates, seeing Marc’s smile with his partner of choice meant the show was a success. Sadly, they split in July… but fear not: The Bachelorette South Africa is starting in February 2021 and the wonder that is outspoken and gorgeous Qiniso van Damme, a contestant on The Bachelor S2, will be hunting her own hottie.
Audiences were all smiles during the culmination of The Bachelor South Africa S2, when S2 heart-throb singleton Marc Buckner went home with a romantic partner – Marisia van Wyk. After months of tears, kisses and dates, seeing Marc’s smile with his partner of choice meant the show was a success. Sadly, they split in July… but fear not: The Bachelorette South Africa is starting in February 2021 and the wonder that is outspoken and gorgeous Qiniso Van Damme, a contestant on The Bachelor S2, will be hunting her own hottie.
M-Net launched its mega-telenovela Legacy in September, and it came in hard and heavy with big stars, big secrets and big-time backstabbing. Kgomotso Christopher, Mary-Anne Barlow, Siyabonga Thwala and the queen of TV mean, Michelle Botes, are feuding for their share of a billion-rand empire, all while hiding secrets in their designer wardrobes.
There’s no such thing as “too much reality romance” – cue The Single Wives SA. Six divorcees moved into a house and let the country see the good, bad and ugly of their lives as they not only looked for love, but also learned more about themselves.
The year ended with the inspiration we knew we needed as a country but didn’t know was coming our way. Sports docu-series Chasing The Sun, a collaboration between SuperSport and M-Net, aired in October and helped rugby fans and non-rugby viewers reconnect with the 2019 Rugby World Cup Springbok team. The in-depth doccie explored the highs and lows of the team, starting with a thumping by the All Blacks in 2018, and the Boks’ journey towards glory in Japan a year later. The interviews with star players and coaches had us sobbing tears of joy, and walking out inspired for the year ahead.
In February, BBC Earth (DStv 184) launched natural history series Seven Worlds, One Planet. Narrated by the globally respected and adored nature specialist, Sir David Attenborough, viewers were reminded of how incredible our planet is, and the importance of working together to celebrate and protect it.
Fan favourite Come Dine With Me South Africa returned in May, making us jealous of dinner parties (and alcohol) as S6 entertained on BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174). It wasn’t just that we got more voyeur fun, along with the backhanded comments and snippy narrating by Dave Lamb as the contestants wowed, wined and dined one another to win a cash prize, it’s that the show evolved and connected viewers over Facebook and YouTube.
The global pandemic affected TV on a global scale and talk shows around the world adapted to the challenge – The Graham Norton Show led the way on BBC Brit (DStv 120) by connecting camp host Graham to his A-list guests via videochat. Instead of sitting around his little glass table and comfy sofa to chat in-studio, Graham was able to interview guests in the comfort of their own homes, at their own leisure, often wearing what they were most comfy in – like track pants and sweats.
The dance reality contest show, Strictly Come Dancing UK, followed suit towards the end of the year, also on BBC Brit. While a live studio audience wasn’t allowed under COVID protocols, the celeb stars and their professional partners – including South African-born dance stars Oti Mabuse and Johannes Radebe – were allowed to record under strict medical supervision, and judges got to stream straight from their homes. That made life easier for Bruno Tonioli, who was stuck in Los Angeles and unable to get back to the UK for filming.
And while newcomers like game show Tipping Point could start from scratch with COVID-safe protocols, it was exciting to see tried-and-tested favourites like Top Gear shifting into top gear and adapting. Gone was the studio, replaced with a very empty-feeling (and therefore safe) drive-in style set. That kept hosts Paddy McGuinness, Andrew Flintoff and Chris Harris COVID-free and able to film the season in relative peace and safety… unless they crashed their cars.
Mega Mzansi Magic
DStv’s powerhouse channel Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) came out swinging in 2020, starting with its newest telenovela, Gomora, in March. With an all-star cast that includes Katlego Danke, Connie Chiume, Thembi Seete and Zolisa Xaluva, the mega-hit shot sees Thathi coming to terms with her husband’s murder at the hands of a hijacker working for her gangster mom, Thathi’s teen children and the other high schoolers at Gomora Secondary have kept viewers entertained with their antics – from Sicelo Buthelezi winning multiple Royalty Soapie Awards for his portrayal of kind-hearted Teddy, to troublemaker Ntokozo (Ntobeko Sishi) looking for a place in the world, Gomora has been a shining example of great local TV.
The River has always kept viewers on the edge of their seats – and this year was no different! In February, sweet, innocent Mbali hopped in her mom Lindiwe’s (Sindi Dlathu) new sports car, unaware that her sister Itumeleng had tampered with the brakes in an attempt to murder Lindiwe. As much as fans love to hate cold ’n cruel murderous mine boss Lindiwe, you couldn’t feel bad as she sobbed on Mbali’s coffin, whispering words of farewell. As for Itumeleng, her trouble was only starting…
Thought that you were done with Mzansi cliffhangers? Think again! March hit Isibaya fans in the gut when Nomzamo Mbatha’s character Thandeka was laid to rest. Having been a core character for seven seasons, it was time for the happily married wife and mother, Thandeka, to bow out, shot as an innocent bystander in an unrelated incident. While her family was left grieving, especially a heartbroken husband, Sbusiso, Nomzamo chose to kiss her character farewell as she moved to the United States to join Eddie Murphy’s long-awaited comedy sequel movie Coming 2 America. 2020 is definitely the start of an incredible fame climb for Nomzamo.
The Queen became TV royalty in August by reaching 1 000 episodes across its 5 seasons. The Queen is winning the numbers game. It’s consistently among the top-rated shows on TV and trends in Twitter’s Top 5 trends almost every night. The show boosted its cast line-up for season 5 too, with executive producer Connie Ferguson, who plays drug queenpin Harriet Khoza on the show, cast her long-time collaborator and former on-screen husband Rapulana Seiphemo on The Queen as new police boss Hector. The show also added ex-Isibaya star Jessica Nkosi, Gaz’lam’s Kenneth Nkosi and iThemba’s Brenda Ngxoli as it continued with drama, drama, drama.
And the big one – Mzansi Magic celebrated a decade of TV drama in mid-July. And to add to the celebration and give back to fans, the channel rebroadcast some of its biggest “legacy” shows to binge and reminisce with offering the type of entertainment that turned Mzansi Magic into one of the biggest and most popular channels on the continent.
Kicking it, kykNET style
Afrikaans flagship channel kykNET (DStv 144) added drama across the board with its shows – everything from series to soaps got a boost as the channel tackled the COVID-19 pandemic head-on. The national lockdown gave birth to reality show Kwarantyn, hosted by familiar face Ferdie Rabie, who knows all about being locked in a house and unable to leave after his time on the original Big Brother South Africa show in 2001. In Kwarantyn, two families spent two months living in quarantine, with the winning group getting R250 000. The catch? They were filmed 24/7 and nothing was off-limits, sometimes embarrassingly.
It’s never easy saying goodbye to favourite shows and characters, so tears were shed when S3 of law drama Fynskrif ended. It was the final time viewers got to watch the antics of the legal community working at Van Wyk en Venote, but not before they could tackle a couple of cases that were socially conscious and reminded us to fight for what we believe in.
While Emo Adams returned with his reality show Maak My Famous and Nicoleen Saal had everyone talking when she won S2, there was another highlight from the show. Rotas the Rapper didn’t just wow with his word skills, he tugged on heartstrings choosing to take the cash and made a dash to hit the books again. With his study fees taken care of, the future is bright for Rotas as he continues his education while perfecting his rap skills.
While Emo Adams returned with his reality show Maak My Famous and Nicoleen Saal had everyone talking when she won S2, there was another highlight from the show. Rotas the Rapper didn’t just wow with his word skills, he tugged at the heartstrings choosing to take the cash and made a dash to hit the books again. With his study fees taken care of, the future is bright for Rotas as he continues his education while perfecting his rap skills.
The Warner brand brought fun-tertainment throughout the year across its various channels. Pop Up Party on Cartoon Network (DStv 301) got the little ones moving with the groove long before the COVID-19 pandemic unfortunately shut down schools. S3 of the kiddies’ entertainment shows added flavour to February’s viewing as it showcased talent that was perfectly infused with African culture and trends. The brand-new video clips had Kenya set as centre stage, and the season was shot across some of the country’s iconic locations, featuring 9 talented local dancing dynamos.
Two months into lockdown and Boomerang (DStv 302) launched Magic Makers, a video series where kids raised their voices and celebrated important dates and magical moments, showcasing their great imaginations and cool ideas for crafts with other Boomerang songs.
The launch of TNT Original movies on TNT (DStv 137) in July saw the group broadcast movies like gripping biographical thriller Escape From Pretoria, featuring Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe in the main role, based on the incarceration and escape from prison by former anti-apartheid activist Tim Jenkin.
In September, Warner launched S2 of Boomerang Tunes on Boomerang (DStv 302). Children had missed out on their school routine and not seen their friends for months, so the kiddies show was welcomed with open arms by parents who got to see their offspring being entertained by a compilation of playful, vibrant and charming songs that represent South Africa's rich treasure trove of diversity and cultural influences.
In November, Cartoon Network (DStv 301) brought the fuzzy feels with the characters of We Bare Bears – bear brothers Grizz, Panda and Ice Bear returned in their biggest adventure yet in We Bare Bears: The Movie. In the brand-new adventure, the three fuzzy guys’ love of food trucks and viral videos saw them get a little out of hand as they went on a road trip filled with new friends, dangerous obstacles and beary, beary fun parties.
Best of BET
BET (DStv 129) started 2020 early with its talented TV shows. In January, locally co-produced comedy Black Tax showed viewers successful professional black woman Thuli Dlamini, played by the award-winning Jo-Anne Reyneke, struggle with the unspoken law of payback to the community of people who helped her get to where she is now. In the series, Thuli navigated life as a single parent who juggled relationships, career and the sudden arrival of her family into her modest suburban townhouse.
Following fast in February was reality show Boity: Own Your Throne with social influencer, singer, actress and “hostess with the mostess” Boity Thulo at the centre of the action. It explored the world her fans don’t get to see as she continued her rise to the top of the fame game, starting with her musical career as Boity launched new music. The show gave viewers exclusive insight, while at the same time bringing Boity’s star power to your lounge and entertaining to the point that Boity trended after every episode, shining bright with her star power.
And finally in September, BET launched its first original daily drama – the highly anticipated Isono. The show put Nthati Moshesh in the spotlight as two-faced Mary, who runs an orphanage and does good by day, but by night she turns Vosloorus, east of Johannesburg, into a nightmare horror show. She’s involved in human trafficking, theft, hijackings, murder and more. And it’s not just strangers’ lives she’s happily destroying – Mary is happy to mar the lives of her adoptive children, Gabriel and Esther, forcing their smiles upside-down into frowns. The more you know, the less you realise you know about a person and are forced to ask: What are you hiding?
While 2020 was a new, interesting, strange and confusing world for all, DStv raised its standards and kept viewers entertained. Now here’s to 20-20-fun!