"Good evening and welcome to 'Top Billing'."
That was a phrase that quickly made us run from our rooms to plonk ourselves in front of the TV.
It was a time where we would get swept away into the lives of the ultra wealthy and famous, getting a taste, vicariously of course, of the best of the good life.
Such was “Top Billing's” choke-hold on us, that there was a generation of young people who dreamed of being a presenter on the show, or being featured on the show in some capacity.
The show, which was cancelled by SABC3 in 2019 after 25 years on air, was appointment television. We knew that on Thursdays we could watch Ursula Chikane, Michelle Garforth, Bassie Khumalo, Michael Mol and later on Jeannie D, Jo-Ann Strauss, Janez Vermeiren, Bonang Matheba and Lorna Maseko, forget about the reality of our lives for a minute.
So when the show ended with a whimper three years ago, a shell of its former glory and excellence, not many cared. However, that has changed in recent months.
At SABC 3's content showcase for the first half of the year, I asked the channel head, Pat van Heerden whether the show would ever come back.
"We never say never. But it might have to be retooled and reworked to appeal to today's audience," she told me.
Maybe the time is now.
Here are four reasons why “Top Billing” needs to come back.
After two full years of living under a lockdown, when no one could host lavish weddings, people are now coming back to life (figuratively, of course) and are now throwing caution to the wind and hosting their elaborate celebrations.
Former Miss South Africa, Dr Tamaryn Green married Ze Nxumalo in what many are calling the wedding of the year, and it was with sore hearts when we realised that we wouldn't be seeing all the best moment of the wedding like we used to when “Top Billing” was on air.
Likewise with K Naomi, who recently married businessman, Tshepo Phakathi in a lavish traditional ceremony.
Both weddings were attended by famous guests, boasted amazing fashion, wedding venues and you could see they were great celebrations. We wanted to see that on TV.
We all know that people dreamed of being “Top Billing” presenters and therefore fine-tuned their skills as presenters so that when Patience Stevens and Bassie came calling, they were ready.
Unfortunately, with “Top Billing” no longer being on air, so many would-be presenters are languishing and this results in the industry not having new talent.
It was always expected that you would start on a smaller show and then when you were good enough, Patience and Bassie would call you over for a chat and soon you'd be uttering that famous “Top Billing” phrase.
When “Top Billing” launched “Top Travel” hosted by Jeannie and Janez, it was on the back of the popularity of the segment on “Top Billing”.
Seeing the presenters in either the lap of luxury or luxury adjacent trips, made us want to save money and go on those trips to get a similar experience.
While travel influencers are there and they try their best with creating content around their travels, there's something missing – the heart and pizazz that was “Top Billing's” presenters.
They weren't thinking about content creation – they were living in the moment and having fun, which translated to viewers wanting to go on those trips.
I will be the first one to admit that watching 20-something-year-olds showcase their luxurious homes on the Atlantic Seaboard gave me heart palpitations because of how envious I was feeling, it still was fun watching them show off their homes.
Property websites are popular because it's where we dream and that's why shows like “Selling Sunset” and “House Hunters International” are so popular – the dreams homes take our breathe away.
Now, while the show is likely not going to be brought back, especially since it's replacement “Insider” is on air and does something similar, but since it lacks that drawcard of the presenters and relies heavily on the voice overs, it feels detached. So, Bassie, Patience and S3 – please consider bringing “Top Billing” back.
The people need it again.