"If we could have a birthday wish and it should come true, it’d be that a cure for this virus will be found soon, so that a feeling of normalcy can be restored in South Africa and the world. This event will change humanity forever," says Kayleen Bessit, local soapie 7de Laan’s publicity officer.
The popular SABC2 soapie, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this week, was forced to cancel all birthday festivities because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The current circumstances are unsuitable for celebrations. As a result, it’s even hard to get excited about it,” Bessit says.
Though 7de Laan stopped shooting on 25 March, after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a national lockdown in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the soapie is filmed in advance so viewers can still watch it every weeknight.
In a statement issued to the media, 7de Laan assures viewers they have nothing to worry about.
“Since the soapie is filmed two months in advance, our viewers can rest easy that 7de Laan has episodes ready for broadcast until 25 May 2020,” the statement reads.
Over on kykNET, the soapies Binnelanders and Getroud met Rugby were also filming until the day before the lockdown started on 27 May.
The Cape Town-based soapie Suidooster was already on a planned production break at the time.
Actor Ramey Short shared a picture on Instagram of himself and his co-star Simoné Pretorius on the set of Binnelanders.
"Last day of filming @binnelanderstv before 21 days of lockdown. To everyone asking, yes we’re about two months ahead of schedule so you can still watch Binnelanders. The most important thing is that everyone gets through this tough time unharmed and focus on staying healthy. Sanitise and clean. For now, ‘The Quintonator’ bids you farewell from Binneland clinic. We’re shooting until 6.30pm. Keep your chin up!" he captioned the pic.
The channel kykNET has since released a statement saying that the lockdown, which had at the time been scheduled to end on 16 April, wouldn’t have an impact on Binnelanders, Suidooster, Arendsvlei or Getroud met Rugby.
“That’s because those shows are filmed in advance. Producers are in constant communication with the kykNET content team who are working on strategies to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on the entertainment industry, including actors, technical teams and viewers,” the statement reads.
“At this stage, soapies aren’t affected because it’s filmed two-and-a-half to three months ahead of the airing dates. The writers are able to continue working and the footage we have can be edited,” says Reggy Moalusi, executive head of corporate matters at MultiChoice SA.
For the 7de Laan team the lockdown means they’ll have to make up for lost time at a later stage, Bessit says.
“Everyone will have to bring their A game to ensure no more time is wasted. We considered making up the lost time by using the days that had been scheduled for production breaks and stand-by days before new episodes were to be filmed,” she says.
“We’re lucky to be in the position of having filmed episodes ahead of time, but if the lockdown carries on for longer than expected it’ll definitely have a financial impact on the production,” she adds.
For now, all production teams are hoping they can go back to work soon.