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EGOLI TURNS 13 (article first published : 2005-04-8)

M-Net's glitzy Open Time soap Egoli, turned 13 on April 6. The half-hour show has become a part of South African television culture, leading the way with innovative storylines and groundbreaking firsts.

Starting life as South Africa's first locally-produced daily soap opera, Egoli was the first soap to be broadcast across Africa on M-Net Africa, and available online to M-Net on Demand subscribers. The show has stayed fresh by introducing innovations like celebrity appearances from the likes of Joan Collins, Jerry Springer, Perry Stephens, Richard Steinmetz and Samantha Fox, introducing split-screen broadcasts, and filming on location across Africa.

Always keen to keep a finger on the pulse of South African society, Egoli has featured storylines about pressing local issues, and regularly featured 'drop-ins' about current events like the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre towers in New York. It was the first local show to tackle love across the colour line at a time when the issue was still well, an issue!

Head of M-Net Local Productions, Carl Fischer, believes that Egoli has always managed to stay current because of the scriptwriting team's understanding of South African culture. "Franz Marx is a storytelling guru, and he and his team have managed to keep the show fresh and exciting over the last 13 years because they understand what makes Egoli tick for South African audiences", says Fischer.

The Egoli phenomenon is not strictly limited to television - roadshows and events entertained thousands across the country, and viewer demand led to the development of Egoli cookbooks, sticker books, CD's, a merchandising range and even a perfume, Essence of Gold.

Creator Franz Marx says that the success of a project like Egoli cannot be achieved without the ongoing support of the public and a dedicated cast and crew. "It is an honour to be associated with an organisation like M-Net, who took the brave step in 1992 of commissioning the first soap in the SA television industry," he says.

The show has consistently maintained its position within M-Net's top five most-watched shows, and is still going strong after 13 years and nearly 3,400 episodes.




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