Self-funded sitcom is an international hit

South African success for the Adebanjos

A British sitcom which producers financed themselves after being rejected by broadcasters has become one of the most-watched comedies on South African TV.

Meet The Adebanjos, about a Nigerian family living in Britain, has become the country’s third most popular comedy within two weeks.

Latest viewing figures show 1.4million viewers tuned in to the show on South Africa’s SABC2, their equivalent of BBC2. That is up from the 841,000 who saw the debut the previous week.

The show, which features stand-up Lateef Lovejoy among others,  was funded by £175,000 raised by former City trader Andrew Osayemi, after he became frustrated with meetings he had with UK broadcasters.

That paid for eight episodes, which were released on DVD after the first three were put online as a free taster.

Osayemi said: ‘The most amazing thing is what the show has achieved with minimal promotion. The fact that the audience almost doubled to 1.4million over a week gave the whole team a real sense of encouragement and validation of the hard work that has gone into this project.’

He has also sold the show to Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda; with plans to dub the series into French for other nations.

Meanwhile, filming of the second series will start in early 2013, and the show has also been developed for the stage – with two shows scheduled for London’s Hackney Empire this November.

Osayemi says he is not bitter about the show’s initial rejection and hopes the sitcom will still reach British screens eventually.

He says: ‘Two and a half years ago I didn't have a clue about TV. But from producing the show to securing its international distribution, I doubt many people on the planet have had this high level induction to the business that I have received in such a short space of time.’

‘The hardest thing is that what we have done is so unconventional that we have had no previous formula to follow. We have tried so many things and have made many mistakes, but you just have to believe that you have a quality product that an audience would like... But it is not for the faint hearted.’

Additional reporting: Sarah Slack

Published: 12 Oct 2012

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