Top 5 local TV shows for 2023

Queen Nandi and young Shaka in “Shaka Ilembe”. Picture: Instagram

Queen Nandi and young Shaka in “Shaka Ilembe”. Picture: Instagram

Published Dec 28, 2023


From Cinderella storylines to gripping dramas and the making of a king, we’ve picked our top five shows for 2023.

“Shaka Ilembe”

In June, the much anticipated “Shaka iLembe” hit our screens.

It told the story of the making of the iconic African king, with iterations from his early childhood through adulthood.

The cast included Lemogang Tsipa as Shaka, newcomer Ntando Zondi as young Shaka, while Nomzamo Mbatha played Queen Nandi, the revered mother of Shaka, with Thembinkosi Mthembu as King Dingiswayo and Wiseman Mncube as King Zwide.

Mbatha who doubled as an executive producer on the 12-part series, said: “This series is remarkable, with its depth, scale, and attention to detail. It transcends entertainment and delivers representation, diversity and progress.”

Filmed in South Africa, it showcases the country's stunning landscapes, including the mountains, savannah and coastline of KwaZulu Natal. Key filming locations include Eshowe, Nkandla Forest, Port Edward, Drakensberg, Mooi River and Zulu Falls.

“Inside Life of K.O”

K.O. Picture: Supplied

This gripping eight-part series started in October on BET (DStv channel 129).

The reality show provided an intimate look at the life of enigmatic and award-winning South African star, K.O.

The show also featured other key members of the Skhanda Gawd squad including Loki Tunez, ROIII, Tsholo and Gobbs.

Each member's unique story and journey was explored in captivating story arcs throughout the series.

The reality show was a captivating journey of self-discovery, music and personal growth, offering audiences a chance to connect with K.O and his squad on a deeper level.

“Umkhokha: The Curse”

Cast of “Umkhokha: The Curse”. Picture: Supplied

Viewers got their fix of drama and deceit every week night when telenovela “Umkhokha: The Curse” returned on Mzansi Magic.

At the start of the new season, viewers were introduced to the key players and the chain of events that led to battle of leadership and the dangerous rivalry between the Mthembu and Gumede/ Mzobe families.

Built around the idea that the love of power and greed are the root of evil, even in the holiest of places, “Umkhokha” took things to another level.

The show starred Deli Malinga (as MaMzobe), Sibonile Ngubane (as Difa), Nay Maps (as Sphamandla) and Hope Mbhele (as Mabusi), among others.

“The Great South African Bake Off” (S4)

Judges and contestants of “The Great South African Bake Off”. Picture: Supplied.

It was a ton of flour, eggs and a lot of sugar, mixed with competitive spirit, in the fourth season of “The Great South African Bake Off”.

The incredible hosting duo, Lesego Tlhabi and Glen Biderman-Pam, and talented judges Siba Mtongana and Paul Hartmann, brought all the fun, laughter and baking knowledge to the tent.

In the end Mia Steenekamp outlasted 11 other bakers to claim the title.

“Sibongile & The Dlaminis”

Cast of “Sibongile & The Dlaminis”. Picture: Supplied

In July, Mzansi Wethu premiered its first-ever telenovela, “Sibongile & The Dlaminis”.

From the producers at Rhythm World Productions, the show was adapted from the popular Zambian story “Zuba and the Solalas”.

It followed the extraordinary journey of Sibongile Mbambo, played by Luyanda Zwane, an innocent rural young woman forced to leave her family and dreams behind to become a domestic worker in the lavish mansion of the affluent Dlamini family.

Little did she know that destiny had an unexpected Cinderella story in store for her, in the form of a forbidden romance.

Set in Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal, the show explored themes of love, sacrifice, ambition and familial bonds.