/ 23 December 2023

A feast of festive TV

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On the box: Zolisa Xaluva is in The Queenstown Kings, a soccer-themed film about the challenges of pursuing dreams in a township setting.

South Africans love their streaming. Global and local video-on-demand platforms Multichoice’s Showmax, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ have offered audiences their dose of banging pleasure for a few years now. 

PwC’s Africa Entertainment and Media Outlook 2023 report highlights that Africa has a young, and growing, tech-savvy population who are driving growth and access on streaming platforms. 

It is therefore no wonder that most local films made in recent years have been led by youthful casts and have young adult themes. This year is no different, with exciting films and series for family and friends to indulge in these festive holidays.

Yoh! Christmas

This six-part romantic comedy is about friendship, social pressures around marriage and the struggle to find love. 

It features rising star Katlego Lebogang, alongside industry veterans Sthandiwe Kgoroge, Tumisho Masha and Hlomla Dandala. 

The binging jury is still out on whether this tired single-and-ready-to-mingle storyline is a worthy replacement for the much-loved How to Ruin Christmas.  


A collaborative effort between South African independent production company Diprente and US animation giant Skybound Entertainment, eight-episode Classified is a coming-of-age comedy-drama with an espionage element. 

Fifteen-year-old, Ella’s (Imani Pullum) life is turned upside down when she’s sent to live with her estranged father (Sule Rimi), younger brother and stepmother in South Africa after being ensnared in a violent protest in the US. 

Her attendance at an elite international school harbours agendas and secrets when she discovers her stepmother Dianne (Christine Horn) is part of the CIA. 

During the promotion of the series, co-director and executive producer Kagiso Lediga said: “This project allowed us to explore the complex world of espionage through the eyes of a teenage protagonist, offering a fresh perspective on the genre.” 

Adorned by a stunning wardrobe, showcasing African fabrics and jewellery, Classified is about self-discovery with an enthralling edge to it. 

It is streaming on Netflix.

The Queenstown Kings

Talented young soccer player Fezile (Likhona Mgali), from rural Queenstown in the Eastern Cape, must face the return of his washed-up pro-footballer father, Buyile (Zolisa Xaluva), while navigating the choice between his team’s success and his dreams. 

The Queenstown Kings offers a familiar sport film formula, blending elements of football, family dynamics and the challenges of pursuing dreams in a township setting. 

With its lukewarm, fairly predictable storyline this recent addition to Netflix also highlights themes of alcoholism, the struggle for recognition and parental challenges. 

The tension between the distant father and his angry son conjures up the persistent issue of fatherlessness in many young township boys’ lives. 

Although soccer is a much-loved sport in South Africa, I was unsettled by the lack of originality in this film. 

Nonetheless, it is star-studded and has cameos by sports figures such as Robert Marawa, Jabu Pule and Doctor Khumalo. 

In Your Dreams

This fantasy drama is South Africa’s first scripted, original series produced by Amazon Studios. 

Right from the opening scene of the first episode with relic hunter and antiquities dealer Dineo (Didintle Khunou) jumping from a plane into the Drakensberg, viewers are taken on an action-packed adventure, well suited to Lara Croft fans. 

Best friends Marcus (Jesse Suntele) and Lloyd (Kiroshan Naidoo) have been evicted from their apartment and are struggling to keep their pest-control business afloat. 

Then an old classmate Dineo introduces them to an ancient, mystical African statue which just might be the answer to their prayers as the tribe who created it believes it has the power to make dreams come true. 

The cast also includes Thando Thabethe, Sello Maake ka Ncube and Khabonina Qubeka. 


Trying to escape gang life in Cape Town, 17-year-old Ethan (Cantona James) discovers a way out through extreme motorsport — spinning. 

Ethan is introduced to this world of spinning cars by his new friend Shane (Dillon Windvogel), however, a looming gang war jeopardises his hopes of a new life. 

Brendon Daniels, whom I first encountered in 2013’s Four Corners, gives a brilliant performance as gang leader Damien’s (Elton Landrew) ruthless henchman, Hercules. 

Spinners also has cast members such as Katlego Lebogang, Stephren Saayman, Chelsea Thomas and Melanie du Bois.

This pulsating, high-octane South African drama was the first African series to be selected at Canneseries and won three awards at the Dakar Series, including Best TV Series.

Spinners is streaming on Showmax until 27 December.