Cape Town – Drama and shock engulfed the SABC yet again as the public broadcaster's production company responsible for making Generations fired the entire strikingcast of South Africa's most watched TV show.
The move is completely unprecedented in the 38 year history of South African television.
The highly lucrative show is the biggest money earner for the public broadcaster, making even the smallest tampering with Generations – let alone firing of the cast – a dicey and risky move. It could impact negatively on the show's popularity and viewership figures.
Advertisers cough up an astronomical R220 000 per 30 second ad break in Generations to get their product or service in front of the massive average audience of 7.5m viewers who tune in on weeknights at 20:00 on SABC1.
The SABC and MMSV Productions "have today terminated the contracts of the striking actors on the SABC1 soap drama, Generations," the SABC confirmed to Channel24.
"The termination follows calls by both parties for the actors to return for recordings, following the start of their illegal strike," the SABC said.
"The principal cast of Generations, who have been withholding their services, have each received letters of dismissal, with immediate effect," the Generations Actors Guild confirmed.
The Generations actors will now look at their legal options as a result of their wholesale firing.
Generations cast ‘saddened’
"We are saddened by this development, but remain steadfast in our goal to ensure fair working conditions for ourselves as creative professionals," they said.
It's not clear how the SABC plans to handle the exit of major actors from the popular soap, who went on strike last Monday.
Generations episodes are recorded six weeks in advance, which means that a highly dramatic change is in store for the prime-time soap when the actors will suddenly disappear, without warning, on-screen at the end of September.
Whether the massive number of characters will simply disappear in an abrupt reset of the soap, or whether new actors will suddenly be replacing them at extremely short notice is not clear.
Generations will continue
"The SABC and MMSV Productions would like to assure the public that measures have been put in place to ensure the future of Generations," says the SABC in a statement.
The week-long strike which started on Monday a week ago, was the second strike by the Generations actors who were ordered to report to work on Wednesday.
The Generations actors that took part in the strike and who are now out of the show include: Anga Makubalo (MJ), Atandwa Kani (Samora), Katlego Danke (Dineo), Mandla Gaduka (Choppa), Menzi Ngubane (Sibusiso), Nambitha Mpulwana (Mawande), Patrick Shai (Patrick), Slindile Nodangala (Ruby), Sophie Ndaba (Queen), Seputla Sebogodi (Kenneth), Thami Mnqolo (Senzo), Thato Molamu (Nicholas), Winnie Ntshaba (Khetiwe), Zenande Mfenyana (Nolunthu), Zikhona Sodlaka (Priska) and Zolisa Xaluva (Jason).