Television and radio personality Anele Mdoda is back for a third season of Real Talk with Anele.
IT’S been a great year for radio and TV personality Anele Mdoda.

Aside from taking over 947’s breakfast show from Darren Simpson, she also recently won the Best Talk Show accolade for Real Talk with Anele at the 11th South African Film and Television Awards.

That show, which is produced by Cheeky Media, is now in its third season.

Real Talk with Anele debuted on screens around the same time that embattled former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng implemented the 90% local mandate.

As much as he gained notoriety for his litany of controversial decisions during his reign, he deserves praise for giving Real Talk with Anele a home on SABC3.

Mdoda’s effervescent personality combined with her Oprah-esque finesse not only makes her relatable, it also makes her guests - many of whom know her or of her - comfortable enough to drop their guard for some candid banter on the couch. Yes, she can be cheeky sometimes, but any talk show host worth their salt has to be so.

Before chatting about the talk show, Mdoda shed light on how it all came together.

She says: “It wasn’t a surprise because we’d been in talks about it, up and down, with different production companies over three years. If I’m being honest, I spoke to a production company about a talk show when I was 25. I’m 33 this year. The one thing I know about something like this is that getting older doesn’t disenfranchise you in any way. It doesn’t make you any less eligible. It actually makes you a candidate to be on something like this, because the older you are, the more you read and the more you have lived. The more you can relate to people, the more comfortable they will be across from you on the couch.”

She found the perfect fit with the production house behind Real Talk with Anele.

She explains, “I got 100% leeway with this one. The way we basically developed it, I think the only thing I was restricted on when I started doing it was that we used to take three ad breaks - now we take four. Otherwise, in terms of what I ask them and so on, I had total autonomy.

“When it comes to the script, I do my research and the writer does hers. Then we amalgamate it because it has to sound like me. I have a bigger team now, which is fantastic.

On the guests for the show, Mdoda reveals; “We sit and decide who we want to go with. And now that we have gone live, it’s even more crucial to discuss where we are going. Like today (meaning Tuesday), the whole junk status thing, we had to discuss something on it. So we got Nandi Madida. But in the first segment, we spoke about the economy then we had the interview. It is crucial that there is continuous communication about what will happen.”

As for her talk show currying a lot of favour with South Africans, she says: “I don’t think you can talk about the show without mentioning the guests. They come and just make you feel comfortable. It’s a non-judgemental platform. I think that’s the legacy of the show.”

She offers: “I don’t think it has a lot to do with format. Larry King was one man behind a desk with a microphone and he went on for almost three decades. Oprah also evolved. David Letterman was very late-night and punchy. I don’t think format counts for anything. I think the personality steering the show is one of three crucial factors. Then it’s consistency and research.”

For the new season, the set got a makeover. She enthuses: “It’s lighter and bright. On the one side, there is a stage where people can perform. We never had that (before). And on the other side, there is a panel set up for when things need to be discussed.”

In case you are wondering how she juggles a morning breakfast show with a live talk show in the afternoon, she says, “I acclimatised myself to waking up early when I started the talk show last year in June. You know we shot in the morning. By 7 you had to be on set. I would wake up about 3 or 4 in the morning to get my ducks in a row so I’m not like a deer in the headlights Now the talk show has moved to the afternoon and radio is in the morning.”

As for who would make her top three dream guests for this season, she says, without so much as a pause: “Winnie Mandela, Graça Machel and Barack Obama.”

Big up to Mdoda for keeping it real!

* Real Talk with Anele airs on SABC3 at 5pm on weekdays.