South Africa has been home to a plethora of iconic and cherished television series that have captivated audiences for years. Let’s delve into a nostalgic journey, exploring some of the most beloved classic South African TV shows. From the unforgettable humour of “Orkney Snork Nie” to the melodic excitement of “Noot vir Noot,” and the gripping drama of “Bellade vir ‘n Enkeling” and “Joe Baber,” these shows have left a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of their audience. Join us as we reminisce about the golden era of South African television.
A walk down memory lane: old South African TV shows
Orkney Snork Nie: 1985-1992
Orkney Snork Nie, a much-loved Afrikaans sitcom aired by the SABC in South Africa from 1989 to 1992, kept viewers hooked with constant action, defying the direct translation of its name, Orkney Doesn’t Snore. Penned and directed by Willie Esterhuizen, an acclaimed name in South African series and movies, the show saw four seasons and inspired two movies. The setting was the vibrant mining town of Orkney, near Klerksdorp and Johannesburg, and the plot revolved around the lively Van Tonder family.
The family, composed of Hendrik Van Tonder (Zack du Plessis), a miner, his wife Maggie (Annette Engelbrecht), a homemaker, and their four children, offered a variety of characters. The eldest child, Ouboet (Frank Opperman), a car mechanic, his wife, Yolanda (Sally Campher), their baby, Hendrik, Hester (Clara Joubert), Wimpie (Anrich Herbst), and the seldom-seen Benny (Charl van Heyningen) who was initially in the army and eventually left Orkney. The family dynamic was further enriched by Wimpie’s on-off girlfriend, Sonja (Carien Wandrag), his best friend, Koert (Rinus van Niekerk), and the adopted orphans, Riekie (Bernice Du Plessis) and Neelsie (Eugene Martin). The show’s charm was amplified by frequent visits from mischievous grandparents and other family members.
A look at Noot Vir Noot: From 1988 to the present
As an Afrikaans musical trivia show, Noot vir Noot holds the impressive title of being the longest-standing game show not only in South Africa but across the entire African continent. Making its first appearance on screens in 1991, this old South African TV series was originally presented by Johan Stemmet. Stemmet, who ended his on-air career in 2019, transitioned into a production role while retaining the show’s rights through Stemmburg Television, a company co-founded with Johan van Rensburg, the erstwhile musical leader.
The 44th season, which commenced on August 15, 2019, brought about significant changes to the show. Entertainer Emo Adams stepped into Stemmet’s shoes as the new host, and DJ Shelly, also known as Rochelle de Bruyn, started delivering musical hints, taking over from the band. The series, which celebrated its silver jubilee on air in July of 2016, is currently broadcast every Thursday at 7 pm on SABC 2. The standard structure of the show challenges four participants to solve musical riddles through various episodes, culminating in semi-finals and a grand finale, interspersed with performances by guest musicians or groups.
Summarising the magic of Bellade Vir ‘n Enkeling (1988-1994)
Bellade Vir ‘n Enkeling, an Afrikaans drama that aired from 1988 to 1994, is a captivating tale woven around the sudden and unexplained disappearance of a renowned journalist, Jacques Rynhard. Set in the year 1985, the story unfolds with Jacques winning a prestigious award for his novel, Die Enkeling, only to vanish mysteriously ahead of the announcement.
Carina Human, a competent journalist from the magazine Die Huisvriend, then takes on the mission to unravel the enigma of Jacques’ disappearance. The characters that come into the spotlight during her investigation include Jacques’ confidante, Jan-Paul Otto, and his lover, Lena, both of whom seem to harbor secrets. The compelling narrative of Bellade Vir ‘n Enkeling was crafted by Leon van Nierop with Henry Mylne at the directorial helm. The captivating theme song was ingeniously devised by Richard van der Westhuizen, and was further enhanced by Louis van Rensburg’s unique music and orchestrations.
Exploring the iconic South African TV show: Joe Barber
Joe Barber, a classic South African television series, brings to life the hilarious antics of Boeta Gamat and Boeta Joe, the renowned barbers of Cape Town. This comic spectacle, the brainchild of Oscar Petersen, Heinrich Reisenhofer, and David Isaacs, first saw the light of day in 1999, in the form of a comedy play performed at the Skokiaan Theatre Bar. It humorously portrayed the everyday occurrences in the life of a District Six barber shop, drawing inspiration from a real-life barber shop in Parkwood named “Joe Barber”.
Over the years, Joe Barber evolved into an incredibly successful series of plays, featuring sequels such as Joe Barber and Boeta Gamat Too, Joe Barber 3 the Family Affair, and Joe Barber VI – Life, to name a few. The franchise not only garnered a Kanna award for comedy at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) in 2003 but also gave birth to a popular television series. By 2014, the Joe Barber plays had earned the title of being Cape Town’s most successful and longest-running comedy series.
A nostalgic journey through South African TV classics
The old South African TV shows – Bellade Vir ‘n Enkeling and Joe Barber – serve as timeless classics, illustrating the richness and diversity of South African culture. They continue to touch the hearts of many, invoking feelings of nostalgia and reminiscence. These TV series have left an indelible mark on the television landscape, setting a high standard for future productions. Their unique narratives, memorable characters, and entertaining content remain deeply etched in the memory of their audiences, forever cementing their place in the annals of South African television history.
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