20 & still counting
Muvhango celebrates two decades of highs, lows and drama.
Action, love, drama and witchcraft… Muvhango (1997- current) has never been short of entertaining storylines. It was originally a 13- episode drama series but its popularity saw Muvhango turned into a threenights-a-week show and then officially a weekday soapie in March 2014. Creative director Tessa Made adds that “no one expected it to be this big. When it did, everything fell into place to create this incredible family soap”.
“What’s the show’s secret to bringing back over 6 million viewers night after night? “The storylines reflect real lives and real issues,” explains Tessa. “People often question why there is no kissing or alcohol on the show. The reason is that Muvhango has and will always be a family show where granny, the 5-year-old nephew and aunt can watch together. It’s an African show with African stories about African culture and we try to remain true to that.”
For its two-decade milestone, Muvhango will be adding a little fire to the soapie and Tessa hints that “there are a few surprises in store, as well as a new tagline”. Don’t expect any changes to the storylines though, especially when they know what works, like business- man KK (Macdonald Ndou) returning from the dead in 2009, Thandaza and Ranthu (Sindi Dlathu and Brian Temba) getting married along with the shocking death of Albert (Ndivhuho Mutsila) in 2014. But sometimes storylines flop and the soap learns, says Tessa. “There have been some storylines that made us lose viewers, like the Mashudu zombie plot in Thathe in 2015 and Thandaza’s disappearance in 2016. We didn’t set out to achieve what we wanted in those episodes, sadly.”
What Muvhango did achieve though are fascinating characters such as lead character Thandaza, who started out with cameo appearances in 1997. Says Sindi of her character, “It all began for Thandaza when she was nobody but then in 2004 the character became prominent in storylines and moved to a supporting role. A few years later, Thandaza’s love life became a favourite topic at the dinner table.” She adds that “playing Thandaza has given me the opportunity to work with some wonderfully talented people. I’ve watched the drama series grow to be a soapie and I’ve seen actors grow on the show. Sometimes you get attached to the actors you meet and it’s hard to see them leave, but you will always see them after work. As for Thandaza, who knows where she is going next? Her fate lies in the hands of the writers…”
While the zombie story (inset) was a miss with fans, Ranthu and Thandaza (main) are a hit.