Mzansi Magic’s soapies went on a production break for the safety of their casts and crew as the whole country went into lockdown. Following the transition of lockdown to level 4, permitting some sectors – including film and television – to reopen, filming of new episodes will now resume.
Mnet head of Public Relations and Publicity, Philly Kubheka, released a media statement confirming the resumption of filming. Even though it is back to business for Gomora, The River, Isibaya and The Queen, it can no longer be business as usual. The health and safety of actors and production crews is a top priority.
“At this stage, the safety of crew and cast remains a priority and we are in constant communication with production houses, as per the government’s directive, to ensure that stringent health guidelines are in place and are being adhered to,” said Mnet CEO Nkateko Mabaso.
Although the Multichoice Group continued to pay salaries throughout the lockdown, the actors and production teams were anxious to resume work.
Gomora returns without Jomo
The suspension of Gomora on Mzansi Magic left viewers literally hanging on a cliff edge. Langa’s paternity, a twenty year old secret, had just been revealed and, as the net closed in on carjacking boss, Mam Sonto, she killed her main lacky, Jomo, whose eerie laugh had endeared the villainous character the fans. Award winning actor, Zolisa Xaluva is the male lead on Gomora.
“I feel extremely privileged to be working at a time when most people find themselves deeply despondent because they are still unable to. My heart goes out to every family that is struggling under the circumstances.
I look forward to going back to work to help provide entertainment that will hopefully help raise the spirits of those who are at home, and hopefully heighten their consciousness. I feel like we are capably led and appreciated. We didn’t work in April but received our remuneration as per our contractual agreement,” said Xaluva.
The Queen wants her crown back
In the latest viewership figures released by MultiChoice, newcomer Gomora has broken the record previously set by The Queen Mzansi. The Ferguson Films produced telenovela holds the distinction of the only show to carry on screening, uninterrupted, since the lockdown. Executive producer and lead actress, Connie Ferguson echoed the sentiments of Multichoice CEO on health and safety as her team prepares to shoot the concluding episodes of season four.
“It feels really good to be back on set. It’s been a tough time worldwide with the pandemic and we are grateful to still have an opportunity to do what we love,” says Connie Ferguson. “Our priority is the team’s health and safety on set. We would not be able to make swift decisions without the support of the broadcaster. The team at Mzansi Magic has always been there to respond promptly to our questions and concerns and, together, we are working really hard to give The Queen’s audience a great season finale.”
Back to Bhubesini
Isibaya was the first of the Mzansi Magic telenovelas to include Coronavirus into its script before the production shutdown. For a week after content ran out, Isibaya gave its fans a brief series of improvised shows, the most notable being a cameo by former Isithembiso actress Kwezi Ndlovu via video call as Jerry’s online love interest. The actors are all required to wear masks during shooting. This is what Asavela Mngqithi – Queen of Bhubesini – had to say.
“They have very strict rules on set and it’s weird working with masks and social distancing, but it feels good to be back at work. We all have to learn to work safely and to protect each other, during this time. I am grateful to MultiChoice that we are able to work, and for their continued support during lockdown,” said Mngqithi.
Although fans of Isibaya are anxious to know the paternity of Ntwenhle’s baby – is it Jabulani Zungu or Dabula Ngubane – they will be disappointed to have to see the features of the beautiful Asavela concealed behind a mask.