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IT’S VAN DER WALT’S FAULT! (article first published : 2008-03-21)

If you thought you always had a good grasp of South African history, have you ever thought about the possibility that there could have been some significant gaps in our history lessons? Are there any guarantees that we were given all the facts? What if there were some influential figures that did not make it into the history books? What if important details were distorted? Yes, and what if there were also some other strange, hitherto obscured goings-on behind the scenes?

On April 9, M-Net offers a no-holds-barred television show that could change your view of South African history with Van der Walt’s Fault on Wednesday evenings at 19h30 and you could just laugh yourself into a time warp!

Directed by stage and television veteran Bobby Heaney and scripted by Alan Committie and Tom Eaton, Van der Walt’s Fault is a comic look at South African history through the eyes of part-time security guard and sometimes-historian Johan van der Walt.

In this hilarious six-part comedy, Johan van der Walt - who has become a household name after his delightful television debut on M-Net’s Laugh Out Loud - delves into his family history and ancestry to reveal that a person by the name of Van der Walt was responsible for many iconic moments in our South African history. His trip down history lane starts with the arrival of his Dutch forefathers in the Cape in 1651 (that’s right - the Van der Walts arrived almost 12 months before van Riebeeck on a ship called Windgat- a little-known historical fact!) and continues right up to the present day.

Each week, viewers will witness how a landmark historical event turned out to be Van der Walt’s Fault. Who convinced the Dutch not to go back to Holland in the 1650’s? Who instigated The Great Trek; caused the Gold Rush; created Windhoek during World War 1; accidentally created separate development in the 1950’s; and helped release Madiba? Take a guess!

Throughout the six episodes, which each deals with an important chapter in history, Van der Walt will appear as himself, but also as his calamitous ancestors - and he’ll be surrounded by a top-notch cast which will help bring his stories to life.

Newcomer Robyn Scott is Van der Walt’s wife Jacomina, Sello Sebotsane is his right- hand-man Progress and his slightly slow half-brother Whatsisname is played by Tobie Cronjé. Award-winning comedian David Dennis will portray various establishment figures – from British generals to prison wardens – and each episode will feature a celebrity guest star who will step into the roles of history icons such as Piet Retief, Paul Kruger, Ghandi, HF Verwoerd and PW Botha. In the first episode we’ll see Casper de Vries playing Jan van Riebeeck!

M-Net’s Head of Original Productions, Carl Fischer, says Van der Walt’s Fault is unlike anything M-Net has screened before but has the potential to become a firm favourite among M-Net audiences. “Johan van der Walt has a huge following - as his appearances in Laugh Out Loud proved - and in this new comedy context, supported by a top-notch cast and crew as well as some unusual special effects, his distinct humour should once again wow viewers. It is true that he will venture into dangerous territory, but it’s all in the name of comedy and we trust our viewers will enjoy his hilarious history lessons.”

Director Bobby Heaney describes Van der Walt’s Fault as “Forrest Gump via Orkney Snork Nie in the vicinity of The History Channel. The styling of the show will be zany and technically we will be using a number of innovative special effects.”

Award-winning comedian and actor Alan Committie, the brain behind Van der Walt, adds: “we want to have viewers rolling with laughter – without a laughter track. We’re aiming for super fast paces, a high gag quotient and comedy that hits you on many, many levels.”

And what does Van der Walt say? In his own, unedited words: “It’s one man’s story; one family’s history. And it’s her-story, too. We Van der Walts are equal-opportunity herstorians, ag, historians, I mean, bliksem. We have been here for centuries, hier op eie bodem, here on our own bottoms – settle, settle, and this are our story. My story. Your story. No well, actually more my story. So, I’ll take you for a ride, through the annals of history – nee kom nou mense, I said “annals”, julle moet fokus.”




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