7de Laan is coming to an end

Popular soapie is getting the boot

7de Laan, after being on air for 23 years, is coming to an end, and South African viewers just have a few more months to enjoy the Hillside escapades.

Details surrounding the end of this popular soapie was released in an official statement by SABC 2 and Danie Odendaal Productions.

Sitting in a Melville coffee shop, watching people go by their day, the creator Danie Odendaal got the idea to create 7de Laan. Right there the characters started forming. He saw the likes of Hilda, the formidable Madel and a waitress.

The idea was simple: a story about the lives of every day people.

But at the time the SABC did not feel that the time was right. And then, on the 4th of April 2000, 7de Laan first aired on SABC 2.

South Africans were introduced to Oppiekoffie — with Charmaine (Vinette Embrahim), Oubaas (Pierre van Pletzen), Hilda (Annelisa Weiland) and Francois (Chris van Niekerk) and their Hanepootjies — and the business Theron & Terblanche where the tumultuous relationship between Jan-Hendrik (Waldemar Schultz) and Tiaan (Francois Rautenbach) ensured havoc.

7de Laan and the characters of Hillside had a firm grip on South Africans over the past two decades. The storyline followed the typical tropes of a soapie to keep suspension at an all-time high — from evil twins, people coming back from the dead and plane crashes — and the idea of people’s every day life has, in its own right, formed part of South Africans’ every day life.

Why is the SABC cancelling 7de Laan?

The last episode will air on the 26th of December 2023. The SABC did not give a reason as to why the show is not being recommissioned but given the financial troubles of the SABC it comes as no surprise. In 2021 there was already concern about the soapie’s renewal. At the time, publicity manager Kayleen Bessit, said they’ve never waited so long to renew the contract and an anonymous SMS sent to The Citizen at the time said that actors and staff were not paid.

Over the years 7de Laan has had their fair share of troubles. Especially when it came to timeslot and scheduling changes, implemented by the SABC. This resulted in losing millions of viewers. One such change, in 2021 (that affected both 7de Laan and Muvhango), was part of the SABC’s long-term plan to invest in quality local content. Merlin Naicker (head of TV at the SABC) said at the time: “it is imperative that we come with innovative and exciting content, which will not only draw the viewership but bring in the revenue required to keep the public service broadcaster financially sustainable.”

There is a time and place for everything. But one can’t help to wonder… what is the plan forward for the SABC? Where is the innovative and exciting content? Or will this new change just be another reason for South Africans to run circles around paying TV licenses and opt for another streaming platform?