South Africa’s version of the hugely popular show, Come Dine With Me, got off to an excellent start last week with audiences in stitches at the antics and observations of the contestants. Of course, it is the pithy and sly observations of narrator, Dave Lamb, that spice up every show and have viewers gasping – and tweeting – at his every targeted barb.
“Yes, we’re really pleased that Dave is narrating the show. He works with a small team on the scripts but also is very fond of ad libbing,” says Jon Farrar, VP Programming, EMEA, for BBC Worldwide Channels, responsible for the development and execution of the programming strategy for the BBC-branded portfolio in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Farrar said BBC have made “a significant investment into the production of the show. (The figures are commercially sensitive and therefore we cannot give out more information on this.)”
But looking at the enormous interest in the show, and the sponsors – Pick n Pay being the biggest – it is clear that the producers are not concerned about losing money.
“Our proud association with Pick n Pay has many benefits including in store marketing and helping to fund the show. The UK show also has a sponsor in the UK – Hardy’s wine,” says Farrar.
Farrar says the format of the South African version of the show is exactly the same. “We’ve decided not to mess with a winning formula. But the SA contestants and food bring a very different flavour to the show. You won’t get many Brits trying out a braai in the middle of winter!”
Our diversity plays a huge role in South African life. How did that play out in the selection of contestants? “We selected the contestants based on who we thought would make the most compelling viewing, but they have naturally come from all backgrounds. The shows feature a very diverse range of contestants,” says Farrar.
“Ethnicity itself didn’t lead to any friction, but there is certainly plenty of friction in the series. Often it is contestants from similar backgrounds that tend to rub each other up the wrong way. The sparks fly at the dinner table in many episodes,” he adds.
South African production company, Rapid Blue, won the right to produce the show locally. “Rapid Blue pitched to produce the series, and I’m extremely glad to be working with them. I think they’ve done a tremendous job,” Farrar says.
As in the United Kingdom, South Africans will have access to the recipes featured on Come Dine With Me. Farrar explains that there is a local microsite for SA viewers.
“We also have our own Facebook page for the series, as well as a Twitter account and hashtag [#ComeDineSA] which we air on the screen during the show. It’s the sort of show that people want to talk about and comment on and the response to the first two episodes has been immense. Come Dine With Me SA was the top trending topic in South Africa for two days after the first episode TX’d,” says Farrar.
Food programming has become hugely popular on cable television – and also on SABC channels, with shows such as Top Chef airing frequently. What has made it so popular?
“There’s been an explosion of choice in what to eat over the last decade. Food is truly international, with so many different types of cuisine available in the country.,” says Farrar.
“As a result I think people are much more adventurous in their tastes and are constantly seeking out new culinary experiences. The chefs on the BBC channels, like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay, are bringing viewers lots of tasty ideas that are international in approach, and will inspire even the finest home cook to push their boundaries.”
The show was shot in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban again to reflect our country’s diverse areas and people and how that impacts on our food. Rapid Blue’s Kee-Leen says the travel cause any problems.
“ It was an absolute treat to be invited into people’s homes and see the whole spectrum of our Rainbow nation.
“Rapid Blue has huge experience in producing international shows for SA television. Come Dine With Me is such a fun series to produce and although we had quite a tight production schedule, there were no production challenges so to speak. “
The show certainly has the ‘tweeple’ tweeting. Follow #ComeDineSA tonight at 9pm on DStv’s BBC Entertainment, Channel 120, to see who has got what to cook tonight.
Bonang_M Bonang ‘B*’ Matheba
Why would u have 12 dogs?! Like hello?!! Makgowa!! #ComeDineSA
MelAttree Melissa Attree
MelAttree Melissa Attree
I like that #ComeDineSA uses the original Brit VoiceOver, consistent production.
Watched the SA version of Come Dine With Me on BBC last night. Was so entertaining! Want more!
Come dine with me SA is a top comedy show lol
JasonVonBerg Jason Von Berg
Gosh I would love to be a fly on the wall at a dinner with Gareth & Nonhle. That could make for a great ep of #ComeDineSA don’t you think?
Mabine_Seabe Mabine Seabe II