Starring Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma and Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, the
pilot episode of a new television series was set to give South Africans
some desperately needed comic relief, writes Alex Eliseev in The Star.

But despite projections to air this month, the SABC is yet to commit to a new – but already controversial – puppet show exploring political abuse of power and other pop-culture issues.

With the pilot costing around R1-million, and sketches by famous cartoonist Zapiro, the satire was to be presented with realistic latex puppets and modelled on similar shows around the globe.

Last night, the SABC's head of entertainment, Pat van Heerden, said the show was in the commissioning cycle, but had been delayed because it was "not a typical programme".

"Satire is a difficult genre," Van Heerden said. "It has had a lot of reaction. We've been trying to get as much buy-in as possible."

She was adamant the show had not been turned down or – to use an infamous word associated with the SABC – "blacklisted".

The show's executive producer, Thierry Cassuto, explained that the show had been conceptualised a number of years ago, but was put on hold. Two years ago, talks resumed and the SABC agreed to fund a pilot, which was finished around January this year.
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Eight puppets were made for the half-hour show, which took a team of 70 people – including sculptors, puppeteers, voice artists, writers, artists and wardrobe specialists – to make possible.

The show has been screened internally at the SABC and has attracted both fans and sceptics.

Click here to read the full report, posted on The Star's website. (restricted access)