Carte Blanche...Where Anything is Possible!
I sat in my home in Umzinto, KZN and watched the very first episode of Carte Blanche in my PJs. I was fifteen years old. Standard 8. It was love at first sight.
I had never seen anything like it in my life.
Not that my television viewing experience was vast at the time.
Like most South Africans, during the 1980s, I relied on the SABC’s offerings which included Magnum PI, The A-Team, Dallas, WKRP in Cincinnati, Different Strokes, MacGyver and… the news.
Well, that’s what it was called … but black South Africans knew that it wasn’t our news. It was other people’s news. And, a lot of it wasn’t true.
So, when M-Net launched in 1986, that decoder gave many of us a visa into a whole other world where you got to hang out with cool people. It was a magic wand which turned you into a groovy (!) dude and it was a common sight across the country, to have swarms of children packed into lounges, eyes cemented to the TV for hours, until an irate mother ordered them all home.
Then, in August 1988, M-Net announced the inclusion of local content in the form of a news and actuality show. I sat in my home in Umzinto, KZN and watched the very first episode of Carte Blanche in my PJs. I was fifteen years old. Standard 8.
It was love at first sight.
I cannot recall any of the stories but I do remember watching transfixed. By the end of the episode I decided I was going to work for Carte Blanche.
But, it was quite a fanciful dream for a girl growing up in rural KZN. So far-fetched that on the few occasions I carelessly shared my vision, I was told to get a grip.
The next few years were spent studying and working on radio, in print and I even did some television presenting work… all this while I carefully studied Carte Blanche every week. In 2001, five days before my first child was born, I finally felt ready and sent my CV and show-reel off.
Six months later, I was nervously walking up the stairs to the Carte Blanche office. George Mazarakis, our longest-serving Executive Producer decided to give me a chance. The plan was that we would take each story as it came. No promises.
I knew I had to prove myself.
Sixteen years later, I’m still in love with Carte Blanche.
It’s not hard to figure out that I love working on the investigatives and as bizarre as it sounds, I am passionate about catching crooks. The beauty lies in the details which I have to pour into my head beforehand. Then, it all comes together in the confrontation which I see it as a battle of minds in an effort to find the truth.
Are those confronts scary? Some of them are.
So, why do I do it? Because investigative journalism is one of the great loves of my life.
It’s easy to get the impression that the presenters “do everything.” But behind us is one of the hardest working groups of people I have ever met. From our editorial team (who know exactly how to juggle all of us creatives), producers (who are truly the unsung heroes of the show), brave camera and sound crew (without whom there would be no proof of our work), editors and final mix (who bring our stories alive) and our office support team who are the actual oil to this engine.
That said, our viewers are our oxygen. We would not be celebrating 30 years if it weren’t for you. Your encouragement and analysis have helped us keep it real.
Thirty years on, I’m celebrating my 25th year in journalism and there is no doubt in my mind that working on Carte Blanche is one of the greatest privileges of my life.