Death on set
The sudden passing of a soapie actor can turn the show on its head, but there is a solution.
How do soapies handle the sudden death or departure of an actor? – FRIKKIE, VIA SMS
It’s not pleasant to think about, but some soapies are prepared, like in February 2008 when Isidingo (1998- current) had to deal with the tragic death of Ashley Callie, who played Lee Haines from 2000. She was in a fatal car accident and Isidingo’s then-headwriter Rohan Dickson says, “We have a system in place that allows us to engage with current news and write a scene as it is happening. For example, when someone dies, we weave it into our storylines.” As it turns out, Isidingo had Lee die in a car crash while away from The Deep on business.
Skeem Saam (2011- current) publicist Percy Vilakazi adds, “It’s tricky to adjust storylines because we write four months in advance. We make a plan in the story to seamlessly write the actor out but it’s tricky when an actor passes away while in production. Fortunately, we’ve never had that experience. Touch wood”.
Even if an actor vanishes, a storyline can be adapted. Back in 2007, Scandal! (2005current) actor Luthuli Dlamini (Stan Nyathi) was fired and scenes were rewritten to make it seem like Stan left the country. A romantic storyline was dropped and Daniel Nyathi was created to bring in actor Sello Maake Ka-Ncube as the male lead.
The late Ashley Callie.