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EGOLI & BINNELANDERS (article first published : 2007-01-1)

In 2007, M-Net will boost its early-evening schedule with an additional half-hour of daily drama. From January 29, South Africa’s longest running soap, Egoli, will be followed by the popular hospital series Binnelanders.

Currently screened on Thursdays as an hour-long weekly drama, Binnelanders will switch to a 30-minute format to fill the 18h30 to 19h00 Open Time slot five times a week. It will simultaneously go out on kykNET, where Afrikaans-speaking DStv viewers will be able to watch it without subtitles.

M-Net’s Head of Original Productions, Carl Fischer, believes this new Open Time package will be a winning formula. “Both shows already have a huge following. We believe we can increase M-Net’s viewership by screening them back to back. It’s going to be dynamite.”

According to Fischer, M-Net had been planning to introduce another daily drama to its schedule for a long time. “It made sense to expand Binnelanders’s screening time from an hour per week to two and a half hours. In just over a year, the series has become one of the most popular programmes on M-Net. In recent months it has been a fixture in M-Net Top 5 programme ranking, beating many top international shows. More than half a million pay-television viewers now enjoy the drama and intrigue of Binnelanders, and we are convinced that many Open Time viewers will be delighted to have access to this first-rate production.”

Binnelanders producers Elsje and Friedrich Stark, long-serving producers of Generations along with Mfundi Vundla, are well versed in the art of daily drama. They are adamant that the transition from weekly to daily drama won’t change the essence of Binnelanders, maintaining that: “The types of storylines and production values will stay exactly the same. The only difference, and that’s a big bonus, is that viewers will be able to spend more time in the company of their favourite doctors and nurses.”

The producers have some tricks up their sleeve to ensure that regular viewers join them in the new weekly slot. Viewers can expect a dramatic cliff-hanger and several twists and turns in the final weekly episode.

Burgert Muller, associate producer at Franz Marx Films, says the brains trust at Egoli is excited about M-Net’s new plans. “Binnelanders is a great, well-produced series and I’m sure our Egoli audiences will stay tuned. For the first time in many years they won’t have to hop channels if they want to enjoy more local drama.”

Egoli draws an average of around 900,000 viewers per episode.




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