Memorable South African talk shows of yesteryear till now

While the talk-show format was arguably pioneered by Felicia Mabuza-Suttle locally, and though SABC 3 cornered the market, a number of talk shows have emerged from other channels.

Overview

South African talk shows have a long history locally, which to an extent mirrors the trends and styles of the US format of talk television.

In recent years, there has been a trend of panelled-talk format shows, with the likes of HONEY TV’s The Buzz and SABC 1’s Daily Thetha.

However, with the everchanging television format, we look at the most memorable single-person hosted talk shows, which arguably started with e.tv’s The Felicia Show.

However, the channel to corner the market in this regard was SABC 3, from 3 Talk with Noeleen, to Real Talk with Anele and Azania and more recently, Unpacked with Relebogile Mabotja.

What was The Felicia Show?

With the turn of the socio-political climate in South Africa with the dawn of democracy, the talk-show format began to garner popularity in the 1990s.

One of the first personalities to get her own single-person talk show was pioneer and legend, Felicia Mabuza-Suttle.

Though it would come to be known by a different name, her show was originally called Top Level when it first premiered on the South African Broadcasting Corporation in 1992.

In 1995, it was renamed The Felicia Show, with it already garnering popularity. In 2000, the name of the show changed again to Felicia, to coincide with the show’s move to e.tv.

After a 12-year run, the show ended in 2004, following criticism that it was merely a rip-off of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Memorable South African talk shows of yesteryear till now

During the Felicia run, SABC 2 introduced its own popular single-person talk-format show, People of the South with Dali Tambo. Premiering in 1994, the show used location shoots featuring Dali Tambo profiling the “people of the South.”

The show would run until 2002 on SABC 2, only to be rebooted by SABC 3 in 2012. By this time, SABC 3 had cornered the market of creating hit talk-format shows, especially single-person hosted talk shows.

In 2002, SABC 3 then premiered what would become the longest running talk-format show for the channel, 3 Talk.

The first and longest-running host of the show was seasoned radio personality and journalist, Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu.

3 Talk with Noeleen would run for 13 years until it was cancelled in April 2015. At the time, the show had arguably fallen into repetitive topics and guests, which resulted in a decline in ratings and the decision to end the show.

Real Talk with Anele

With the end of Noeleen’s run, SABC 3 went on to introduce Real Talk with Anele in 2016.

The seasoned radio and television personality had already cut her teeth with talk-television on e.tv’s panel-talk show format, Tongue in Cheek, and was dubbed the queen of breakfast radio.

Considering her immense experience and association with leading stars, creatives, politicians and business minds, Real Talk became an immediate success.

More so as the show incorporated topics focussed on everyday people and the stories they wanted to share.

Real Talk with Anele would come to an abrupt end in 2018, allegedly due to contractual disputes between Mdoda and the production company behind the show.

Real Talk with Azania

After Anele left the show, Real Talk was positioned during a popular and seemingly commercially successful time slot.

Therefore, the producers of the show replaced Mdoda and introduced seasoned television and radio personality Azania Mosaka at the helm in June 2018, with the popular episode featuring Bonang Matheba.

However, it can be argued that Mosaka failed to capture audiences like Mdoda did. Therefore, by October 2018, it stopped sharing the new episodes on YouTube and the show ended shortly after.

Unpacked with Relebogile Mabotja

Between 2018 and 2021, SABC 3 amended its single-person talk format by making panel-talk format its niche.

Afternoon Express would be the show to take over the slot, first introduced with Bonang Matheba, Bonnie Mbuli and Jeannie D as the hosts. However, the show has since changed its hosts with Palesa Tembe as the anchor of the show.

To rekindle the golden era of single-person hosted shows in 2021, SABC 3 introduced Unpacked with Relebogile Mabotja. The show is currently in its fifth season on the channel.

Final thoughts

From as early as 2002, SABC 3 has cornered the market of single-person hosted talk shows with the premiere of 3 Talk with Noeleen. Following the end of Real Talk with Anele Mdoda and Azania Mosaka, the most recent talk show to grace SABC 3 is Unpacked.

However, there are other honourable single-person talk show mentions from other channels that have made an impact like SABC 1’s Asikhulume, Let’s Talk with the late broadcasting legend Xolani Gwala and e.tv’s brief but impactful Katch It With Khanyi.