The beginning of this week was filled with excitement and anticipation. Hartklop – kykNET’s latest series – was pre-screened at MultiChoice City on Monday, just before it hit television screens at 20:00 on Tuesday evening. Honestly, I was a bit sceptical about what I suspected might be an Afrikaans version of the famous Grey’s Anatomy series. But, to set the record straight – even if there are similarities to Grey’s Anatomy – Hartklop is at the heart of what it is to be South African.
I spoke to two of the lead actors – Leandie du Randt and Simoné Pretorius – about their thoughts around the series and how their characters made an impression on them.
No need to stand back
Leandie du Randt says she feels “excited and grateful” about Hartklop. For Simoné Pretorius, the official launch felt a little like pre-Covid times when a movie came out and people were excited about it. “Word of mouth was spreading, and you were proud of the product and wanted to tell everyone about it… It feels like that to me. We don’t have that anymore.”
They are both very grateful for how the series is being promoted and received, since there are so many brilliant people who worked so hard on the project. “I am so glad that they are getting credit for it and that people are excited about it, because I really think this is something special. It’s really not been done in Afrikaans before,” Leandie says. Considering our local film industry’s low budgets, it’s quite remarkable to see what the Hartklop team has created. The series is – in my humble opinion – of international standards. Leandie agrees: “I really don’t think we have to stand back.”
About the first episode
The first episode, which aired on kykNET on 18 July, had me glued to the screen. (Don’t worry, it will be available on Catch Up). Lead actors like Leandie du Randt, Simoné Pretorius, Carla Classen, Oros Mampofu, Renate Stuurman, David Louw, Marlee van der Merwe, Jacques Bessenger and Dawid Minnaar put punch into plots that are bound to blow our minds. They bring it their all right from the start. Other members of the remarkable cast include Christel van den Bergh, Christo Davids, Esmerelda Bihl, Rika Sennett and the late Franci Swanepoel.
Leandie du Randt on playing Dr Jolene Joubert
Leandie du Randt’s character, Dr Jolene Joubert, had the audience very curious from the start. She seems sad and depressed, but also like someone who’s had to endure a lot to get where she is. It’s clear that she struggles with many questions about the unfairness of life.
“In real life, I am a very expressive person,” Leandie says. “I had to force myself to hold back; to be mysterious.” Her character has a very deep, dark past. “That’s the thing. Sometimes you can rise above your past, but in her situation, it continuously comes back to haunt her. How do you fight this past that keeps coming to destroy your life and you’re working so hard to move away from it and to prove yourself?… What I found most rewarding of this character, was that it put me in the shoes of people who go through things like that. Not only where she grew up, but also with what happens to her in her adult life; her relationship. I think it’s happened to many more people than we realise. I now have so much more respect – not only for doctors and people in a medical profession, but also for these people who go through such sadness in their personal lives,” Leandie says. While it was a privilege to play the character, she says it is also quite daunting. “I can only hope to do it justice. I want those people to feel that they’re not alone and that they will be okay. That they just need to fight back. As long as my character makes someone feel that they’re not alone in life, and gives them hope to step into their truth, I am happy.”
Simoné Pretorius on playing Dr Elani Breytenbach
Simoné Pretorius says the logistics around filming in Joburg for ten weeks while having a toddler at home, had her doubting whether she should take the role of Dr Elani Breytenbach. But, when she read the text and got to know her character, she realised she just had to. “I saw so much opportunity in playing the character. I can truthfully say I played my heart out. Not just in the drama, but also the comedy. Comedy is my love language. It’s like oxygen.”
Her role is like a light little feather in a rather tense medical drama. She says she appreciates the fact that you can make a dark drama a little lighter with some comedy here and there. “Also, it’s not just comedy. It’s drama and [Dr Elani] often lands in situations where she also really struggles. So, I really enjoyed the fact that it was both [comedy and drama] in such a low EQ, high IQ character,” says Simoné.
Both Simoné and Leandie are hoping for a second season of Hartklop. “There is something for everyone,” says Simoné. “It’s not just drama and blood. There is comedy; there are many heartfelt moments. I think the big challenge would be to get a hospital, because the hospital where we filmed is not available anymore.”
So, if there are any Pretoria-based hospitals keen on some on-screen marketing… You know what to do! 😉
Things to know about Hartklop
Can it be compared to anything we’ve seen on South African television before?
Not really, since it’s the first-ever proper medical procedural series in Afrikaans. For the purpose of comparison, the difference between Hartklop and the drama series, Binnelanders, is that in Binnelanders the medical cases were handled over various episodes. In Hartklop, most cases are only seen in one episode.
Who wrote Hartklop?
The 13-episode series was written by Zoë Laband, the writer-director of the internationally acclaimed Pinky Pinky. She has a master’s degree (cum laude) in screenwriting and won a SAFTA as best comedy writer for Those Who Can’t. She’s also the writer of The Girl from St. Agnes (Showmax).
The series was initially written in English and Kobus Geldenhuys, renowned translator of works by J.K. Rowling, Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis and David Williams, translated the series into Afrikaans.
The music for the series was written by Klopjag’s Dawie de Jager.
Is the medical side of things realistic?
Each of the episodes had a medical adviser and Afrikaans translations were confirmed with an Afrikaans-speaking doctor. There were also trained nursing staff who formed part of the filming of the operating room scenes, helping with the medical equipment where needed.
Who directed the series?
Christo Davids (who is also Dr Veronica Pietersen’s husband, Sollie in Hartklop) co-directed the series with Harold Hölscher. Davids made his television debut in 1995 as Dial September in the series, Onder Engele. He was also a director on the kykNET series, Spoorloos: Die Eiland which aired in 2022.
Where was the series filmed?
Hartklop was filmed in Johannesburg, with the hospital scenes shot at the Solomon Stix Morewa Memorial Hospital in Eloff Street, Selby and at the University of the Witwatersrand. The Solomon Stix Morewa Memorial Hospital was being renovated at the time of filming but has since been re-opened.
Watch Hartklop on kykNET (DStv channel 144) on Tuesdays at 20:00.