The entire cast of popular South African soap opera Generations has been sacked after going on strike in a long-running dispute over pay and contracts.
The show’s 16 actors, watched nightly on state broadcaster SABC, were fired after resisting calls to return to work at studios in Johannesburg.
The program will continue to air until October, while producers have indicated new actors will be recruited.
Generations follows black middle-class characters working in advertising.
It first aired in 1993, a year before South African’s first democratic multi-party elections brought Nelson Mandela to power.
The show – known as a “soapie” – is a popular draw with ordinary South Africans, providing a source of aspiration to TV viewers.
Executive producer Mfundi Vundla told a South African radio station that new cast members would be sought.
“There were other actors before, there will be other actors in the future,” he told Talk Radio 702.
“Generations will go on, it doesn’t mean the demise of the series.”
“We’ve been engaging with them since October last year,” said Mfundi Vundla, who added the cast had been asked to continue recording the show while negotiations continued but had not returned to work.
“That’s it, it’s finished, it’s a termination,” he added.
Mfundi Vundla branded the actors’ pay and contractual demands “unreasonable” and claimed 12 of South Africa’s highest paid actors were Generations cast members.
The cast have contended they are underpaid and also receive no repeat fees for their work, which is screened in other African countries.
Among the actors losing their jobs is Sophie Ndaba, who has played Queen Moroka since the show’s inception.
The cast’s lawyer said they would seek further advice before deciding how to fight the show makers’ decision.
South Africa’s Arts and Culture minister, Nathi Mthethwa, said he was willing to help reach “a speedy and amicable resolution to this matter” and added the drama had helped foster the development and growth of the country’s creative industries.
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