Repository logo

The English language television single play in South Africa : a threatened genre, 1976-1991.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The thesis takes the form of an investigation into the various causes leading to the demise of the English language television single play in South Africa. It does not position the genre within any particular theoretical framework, but argues within the context of a liberal/critical discourse that the single play owes its development and significance to the contribution of its many writers, as well as to the creative input of the various producers, directors, from within and outside the SABC. Furthermore, it evaluates the genre within the bureaucracy of the SABC and the input of the various drama managers, among others, whose decisions have affected the position of the single play. The single play is seen as a development of drama having evolved from the stage play, though moving progressively towards the production values of film. Research will show that in the South African context, the creative practitioners of the single play and technology have intersected with style, reflecting the dominant form of naturalism, mainly evidenced during the early period when many single plays were produced in the studios of Auckland Park. Within a wider sociopolitical context, the single play has been evaluated as a negotiation among writers, censorship, technology, naturalism and bureaucracy. The investigation will show that the major cause for its demise was the SABC's increasing commercialisation of TV -1, with the result that programmes on this channel were evaluated in terms of their ability to deliver large audiences to the advertisers. This placed the single play in competition for transmission space with the more popular drama series and serials. Furthermore, the business principle of cost-effectiveness applied to the single play made it more expensive to produce than series and serials. The author's own practical involvement in the production of video and television programmes, including drama, together with primary source information gleaned from some forty interviews with practitioners and those whose decisions impacted on the genre, have been added to the body of the research.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of Natal, Durban, 1993.


Television plays, South African (english)--History and criticism., Television broadcasting--Social aspects--South Africa., Television programmes--South Africa--Rating., South African Drama (English)--History And Criticism., Theses--Drama and performance studies.