Saturday will see the end of another of the SABC’s last remaining top legacy brands.
Top Billing on SABC3 has been cancelled after 23 years as the South African public broadcaster can longer afford to pay for it.
Sowetan Live first reported of the show’s cancellation. As yet there has been no official statement from the SABC or Tswelopele Productions.
Channel24 spoke to SABC spokesperson Ms Vuyo Mthembu who said that the broadcaster would be releasing a statement later today and had no further comment
Saturday’s final Top Billing episode at 18:00 will include no nostalgic look back, although the show’s one former host and co-executive producer Basetsana Kumalo, will appear in an insert reflecting on her “25-year journey”.
This weekend on #TopBilling, @basetsanakumalo invites us home to meet her proudest achievement, the Kumalo family; @harmonythe1 is in Dubai and we invite you into a dream home by architect Jacques van Niekerk! ⁰⁰
— Topbilling (@SABC3Topbilling) October 16, 2019
The iconic show that has adapted over the years since it was started by Patience Stevens, always showing “the best of the good life”, has made name stars of multiple walk-and-talk presenters who found fame after being hand-picked to front the glamorous lifestyle magazine show that has been a weekly staple on the SABC schedule for decades.
The show became such a permeating force in South African popular culture that people started referring to mega-mansions as “A Top Billing house” or lavish weddings as a “Top Billing wedding” – referencing the weekly mansion and over-the-top wedding day profile inserts.
Meanwhile, its walk-and-talk signature presenting style became often-imitated, widely seen as the pinnacle of what would-be presenting on local television should be.
The iconic show that moved between SABC2 and SABC3 and that weathered multiple day and time slot changes over decades managed to keep its audience as it kept up with the times, constantly evolving and adapting to changing styles.
With high production values, including overseas travel inserts and Hollywood interviews, Top Billing kept courting a high LSM viewership as one of the last remaining legacy shows on public television that managed to bring affluent viewers, highly coveted by advertisers, to the SABC.