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The Wild is tamed

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IOL Shona Connie

CLOSE to three months shy of celebrating 18 months on air, M-Net’s ‘The Wild’ has been canned.

Unlike when ‘Egoli’ was given the axe after 18 years, viewers don’t appear to be too cut up about the channel’s bombshell announcement on the soap, which boasts SA’s crème de la crème of acting talent from darling celebrity couple Shona and Connie Ferguson to Faye Peters, Tumisho Masha, Ian Roberts and James Alexander. And it launched the acting career of former Top 10 Idols contestant, Gail Nkoane.

Interestingly, it bagged seven nominations at this year’s SAFTA awards walked away with four honours: Best Director on a TV Soap, Best Actor in a TV Soap (Tumisho Masha), Best Technical Team on a TV Soap and Best Art Direction.

According to Theo Erasmus, M-Net Director: General Entertainment Channels: “Firstly, M-Net ascertained that the monies allocated to The Wild, which is a high-cost production due to the fact that it's a location-based soap, could be spent on other productions that could possibly produce better ratings in a shorter period of time. Soaps take many months to build an audience, whilst other genres may produce higher ratings quicker.

“The ratings of ‘The Wild’ have been growing steadily month on month, but not in line with the vast investment. Secondly, the original land bought for the production of The Wild faced ongoing rezoning challenges which could still take many years to resolve. This left the production with no real ‘home’.”

For a broadcaster that is au fait with the cost factor attached to OB (outside broadcasts) shoots – that is a rather poor argument. More so, after all that hoopla in launching the soap as a groundbreaking venture.

Let’s not forget that when ‘Egoli’ ended ‘Binnelanders’ was extended to an hour long as ‘Binneland – Sub Judice’. But in M-Net’s roll out plan last April it become collateral damage, was cut by 30 minutes, changed to ‘Binneland’ and relocated to kykNET.

That new actors like Kim Engelbrecht – albeit in a guest appearance, Hayley Owen, Zakeeya Patel and Khabonina Qubeka, have been brought on board does beg the question: Where did they find the budget for them?

Is this a case of lack of foresight or an overestimation of the soaps success in the long run? Who knows!

But I can’t imagine a spin-off series at this juncture – even if the channel is optimistic about this option or if they are foolhardily using it as an attempt mollify the media.

The Wild ends on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) in March 2013.

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