Reality TV boom takes Mother City by storm

2014-04-06 14:00

Bollywood beauties and film stars tucked into creepy-crawlies and dangled from a suspended Mercedes-Benz for the filming of Fear Factor India in Cape Town earlier this year.

Sixteen Indian celebrities – including Salman Yusuff Khan, winner of India’s biggest dance reality show, Dance India Dance; Miss India International and ­Indian Premier League host Rochelle Maria Rao; and sultry model-turned­actress Mugdha Godse – survived explosions, were tied to trucks and thrown to chickens after being covered in honey and worms during the making of the hit ­reality show in February.

The fifth instalment of Fear Factor ­India’s official website describes “the ­exotic locales of South Africa” as its ­setting. The show is airing at the moment.

Fear Factor India is just one of a string of reality television series recently made in the Mother City.

A bevy of Scandinavian beauties slipped into Cape Town for Sweden’s Next Top Model, 22 contestants participated in the German dating show Der Bachelor and scores of hopeful singers competed in X Factor Nigeria.

X Factor notably launched the international careers of One Direction and ­Leona Lewis, a British singer­songwriter.?Film industry experts credit the weak rand and Cape Town’s diverse locations for the city’s reality TV boom.

Darren Lindsay of local producer ­Endemol, which made Fear Factor India and Fear Factor Malaysia here, said it takes about 25 days to film a 20-episode season with up to three stunts a day.

“While the stunts are often generic, it is the backdrop that can often swing the look and feel for these clients: breathtaking views, historic locations, vastly differing coast lines, sea and land, vineyards and wildlife are just a few of the facets of the offering. “One can travel around Cape Town fairly quickly too ... The work ethic of our South African crew is notable too. They are extremely diligent and hard-working, a reputation that keeps these clients coming for ­repeat business,” said Lindsay.

“The experience and knowledge that South Africa has in order to facilitate ­reality shows like Fear Factor is in ­demand. What we get done in a single day is generally out of reach for the ­countries we host,” he added.

The presenters and contestants, often celebrities in their home countries, are usually accommodated in inner city hotels like The Rockwell in Green Point or the Victoria Junction Protea in Sea Point.

Stefan Nell, head of equipment rentals at Visual Impact SA, said one reality TV production can spend up to ­R7 million on camera equipment alone.

“Cape Town is currently the most popular destination for reality TV, both local and international. We have had a seriously busy reality run over the past six months,” said Nell.

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