DStv viewers across Africa including in Botswana have the opportunity to watch one of the most acclaimed television series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency on M-Net to night.
The pan African channel has beaten Botswana Television (Btv) to the television series, after the local channel failed to create an enabling environment for the series to be broadcast locally. The producers of the movie had requested Btv to limit its spectrum to Botswana only to ensure the series is not watched by external viewers. Btv was given that task soon after the first series was aired on BBC United Kingdom (UK), early last year.
The producers of the movie have since arranged with a local company, the No.1 Lady's Opera House, to screen the movie for enthusiasts for a fee, part of which goes towards the development of the No.1 Lady's Opera House concept.
This is the first international television series to be shot entirely in Botswana. However, the mini-series features several appearances by other South African actors, including Tumisho Masha (who plays lawyer Lucky Sisane), Eastern Cape actor legend John Kani (who appears as the dubious Daddy Bapetsi), Brenda Ngxoli, Kenneth Nkosi, and Keketso Semoko.
The television series started airing on the BBC in the UK and in the United States of America (US) with rave reviews since it started this year. However, news sources in the US claim the future of the TV series remains a mystery after HBO, who bought the film along with BBC, did not mention it in their list of TV series for the 2009-10 season.
However, HBO president Michael Lombardo told Canwest News Service at the semi-annual gathering of the TV Critics Association that the adaptation is still alive.
Despite strong reviews, the series did not fare as well as other recent HBO dramas like True Blood and Hung, or established programmes like Entourage and Big Love, all of which will return with new seasons
True Blood is averaging 11 million viewers for HBO, and is the pay cable channel's most-watched series since The Sopranos, CanWest News reported.
It would be "an incorrect assumption" to think that The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency has been cancelled, though, Lombardo said, even though it was pointedly left out of HBO's programming announcements for the 2009-'10 season.
"We're actually in conversations now and are trying
Two of the series' original creators, feature-film directors Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack, passed away soon after production began on The No. 1 Ladies' Detective's first season.
"It's been a challenge because, as you know, the creative vision behind that show unfortunately passed away," Lombardo said. "So we're trying to figure that out."
HBO's programming president, Richard Plepler, was quoted as saying, "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency did very well for us critically and with audiences, and we're very proud of it," Plepler added. "So we're going to try to figure out a way to get it back."
Despite the uncertainty in the US and the UK, African viewers can start watching the Mma-Ramotswe show from tonight.
The No1 lady's Detective Agency Series is perceived as a poignant and passionate series chronicling the adventures of Precious Ramotswe, the eminently sensible and wise proprietor of the only female-owned detective agency in Botswana. The series kicks off when Precious Ramotswe (Jill Scott) was a little girl spending her days with her beloved father (Winston Ntshona) in Botswana, learning to use her eyes, ears, memory and patience.
Years later, after he dies, Precious inherits his 180 cows - a windfall that draws the interest of her abusive ex-husband Note (Colin Salmon), a trumpet player, and conniving lawyer Lucky (Tumisho Masha).
Asserting her independence, Precious sells the cows at auction, using the money to drive her father's truck to Gaborone, where she buys a house and opens The no. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, her dream business, in a former post office. Encouraged by new acquaintances like JLB Matekoni (Lucian Msamati), an auto mechanic she met when her truck broke down, and BK (Desmond Dube), a hairdresser working at The Last Chance Salon next door to the agency, Precious sets about establishing herself as a detective, hiring the lovable Grace (Anika Noni Rose), a high-strung yet devoted secretary. Aided by her highly efficient yet rather peculiar secretary, Precious investigates a variety of cases helping townspeople solve 'mysteries' in their lives, from missing children to philandering husbands to con-artist scams.