For 13 years she was Maria, the character who kept Oubaas (Pierre van Pletzen) and Hilda’s (Annelisa Weiland) flat in tip-top shape. And she was always looking for a piece job – at a price, of course.
But tonight Themsie Times (65), who plays Maria in 7de Laan, will be bidding farewell to the show – at least for the time being.
“I miss Oubaas and Hilda,” says Themsie, whose last day on the set of the SABC2 soapie was in July. “Maria worked for them for a long time. Before that she also worked for Oubaas’s mother, Moekie.”
Over the years Pierre and Annelisa became like real family to Themsie. “They’re my home away from home. I miss them a lot,” Themsie says.
She’s hoping her character will make a comeback. “Maria isn’t dead. I’m unsure exactly what’s going on or whether she’ll come back,” Themsie admits.
The past week we saw how Maria and Willem (Markus Haywood) reached a R2 million-settlement after she fell over building material in the Heights’ arcade and injured her knee. She sued Willem for R5 million. Maria then decided her R2 million would be enough to complete her guesthouse in QwaQwa in the Eastern Free State so that she could move back to her roots and retire. Her farewell will be celebrated tonight in Oppiekoffie with cocktails – where Oubaas will no doubt be delivering his infamous pearls of wisdom.
According to Rosa-Mari Erasmus, 7de Laan’s publicist, Themsie hasn’t had a permanent contract with the show for a number of years now. “She’s called in for certain storylines as and when we need her for filming.”
So even though she’s retired, it’s not a done deal that viewers will never be seeing Maria on their screens again…
“Maria is like a mother in 7de Laan,” Themsie says. “She knows everybody’s business and keeps an eye on everyone. Viewers like her because she stands for the truth.”
Themsie says her personality is similar to Maria’s and she’s been missing her character every day since July. “Like her, I don’t like nonsense and I don’t shy away from the truth.
"If someone’s wrong, I’ll tell them. I won’t talk behind someone’s back. I’ll tell them and then it’s over,” she says, sounding very much like Maria. “I care about people and I love God. I always tell the truth.”
Thinking back to her favourite storylines over the years, she mentions the one where Maria, Oubaas and Matrone (Annelize van der Ryst-Hattingh) made mampoer in a storeroom in the Heights and sold it. “It was very funny and a lot of fun,” she says with a smile.
And who can forget when she had everyone on edge with her stories about the ghost in the Heights? “Maria tried everything to banish the ghost.” Or how she and her great friend Aggie (Mimi Mahlasela) adored a scrumptious scone with cream in Oppiekoffie.
Since Themsie’s departure from the 7de Laan set she’s been very involved with her church in Randburg, Johannesburg. “I pray for people and work for God,” she says.
She’s a mom of three and a grandmother of six, and lives in Johannesburg with two of her grandchildren. “No, they’re not looking after me – I’m looking after them,” she says, before bursting out laughing.
Does she think Maria will ever return to our screens?
“I hope so; I pray so. Maria hasn’t died. Oubaas told her she could return at any time. She also told Aggie she’s worried her plans for the guesthouse won’t work out.”
Themsie assures us she’s definitely not ready to wave her 7de Laan family farewell.