The producer of South African soap opera Uzalo has signed a three-year deal with South African public television channel SABC1 that will see the show remain on air until at least 2023.
The deal will help improve the quality and storylines of the Stained Glass Production series, which some viewers have said have become boring, according to the broadcaster.
Uzalo, which is jointly owned by creators Kobedi ‘Pepsi’ Pokane and Gugu Zuma-Ncube, will begin production of its new season during the first week of January ahead of returning to screens in March.
“Production halted as part of its annual break and was to resume on 18 November 2020. However, due to the contracting process taking longer than anticipated, production has extended its break and will resume the first week of January 2020,” Stained Glass Production said.
SABC executives have previously expressed dissatisfaction with some of Uzalo’s storylines, described by viewers as boring and recycled, while Uzalo cast and crew members have complained about inadequate pay.
However, in a statement on the new deal, SABC said: “It is the first time that such a long-term arrangement has been put in place and it represents an unequivocal vote of confidence that we place in the series.”
SABC added that the long-term deal would provide the production team ample time to invest more in storyline workshopping to produce more powerful plots and improve the overall quality of the show.
Sane Zondi, SABC1 programme manager, added: “Uzalo has earned [the renewal] and its performance speaks for itself. The property has broken a set of records in the industry for a soap or long-running series. It’s the youngest entry in the SABC stable and it is phenomenal what the property has managed to achieve despite the challenges this year has shown – not only in the broadcasting landscape but the country as a whole.
Uzalo was forced off air for five weeks this year after it ran out of episodes because of production issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It has nevertheless remained the country and SABC1’s most-watched TV series, with 8.8 million viewers (22.75 AR) during October and around four million viewers watching Uzalo on SABC1 via MultiChoice’s DStv satellite pay TV service.