Picture shows: Lisa Snowdon

An array of brand new shows are on the bill to ring in |TLC’s first birthday celebrations this Sunday. Debashine Thangevelo caught up with Lee Hobbs, Channel |Director, Emerging Business, for Discovery Networks CEEMEA, to find out how the channel has performed, |the shows that proved to be a roaring success and the exciting plans they have for it…

TLC went up against a formidable channel – BBC Lifestyle – when it launched last year.

A year down the line, Lee Hobbs, Channel Director, Emerging Business for Discovery Networks CEEMEA, says, “I think the channel has been wonderfully received. It has been a huge success for us in the first year. And we are the number one lifestyle channel in South Africa.”

What does he attribute to the channel resonating with viewers?

He responds, “I think it really talks to modern South African women.

“What we wanted to do was provide fun, high-octane reality programmes for women. Whether it is Cake Boss or Say Yes to the Dress, it just gives women a different side of the world.”

Adding to Buddy Valastro’s recent visit to South Africa for the Good Food & Wine Show, Hobbs says, “Cake Boss is such a huge series in South Africa. It was amazing to see the fans and we are so excited about it. The secret of the show’s success is the family dynamics. And it talks to men and women. Even Buddy noted the similarity with South African families and the Italian-American dynamics.”

Other than the shows Hobbs outlined, Happily Ever Laughter, Strange Attractions, Mob Wives and Too Fat for Fifteen secured the highest audience ratings for the channel.

And there are several first-season offerings, amid new seasons of old favourites, meandering their way on to the screen in the coming months.

An excited Hobbs shares, “I think next year people are going to love the mix of shows. There are lot of returning favourites like Buddy Valastro’s Cake Boss Birth Marathon (airs Monday night). We also have Your Style in His Hands (Monday night). It is a makeover show with a difference as it has the woman’s husband or boyfriend in charge. It is a brilliant show presented by Lisa Snowdon (model and former girlfriend of George Clooney).

“We have a wonderful series coming soon, Last Chance Salon (October 25). It is a very heart-warming show that looks at certain procedures that have gone wrong in some way. Later in the year, running in to next year, we have Long Island Medium (November 6). This show has been a huge hit in America and is as much about family dynamics as it is about real-life psychic medium Theresa Caputo.”

Other highlights include: Jodie Marsh: Brawn in the USA (tomorrow night), which follows the famous bodybuilder as she prepares for the INBF Natural North America Championships; Virgin Diaries (October 26), a title that aptly sums up the show; and, last, a show that needs little introduction – My Big Fat American Gypsy Weddings (airs on Sundays).

On TLC’s objective going forward, Hobbs says, “Our aim moving forward next year is to consolidate the positive reception and to build on our poll position in the market.

“Our shows offer great ideas and tips. It is very much factual entertainment.”

So is there a possibility of TLC commissioning a few local shows for the South African market?

“It is something we are looking at and will be considering in the future. I know it is something other channels have tried. Right now, I think people like TLC because of its international content.”

• These new shows can be found on TLC (DStv Channel 172). Refer to the TV guide for more details.