“You can be anywhere in the world and see Nelson Mandela,” says Dan March, partner at US-based Dynamic Television, which is selling the latest TV recreation of the late, great South African democratic leader’s life.
However, Madiba is “not just another Nelson Mandela story”, says March of the show, which BET Networks commissioned in the US. “This is much broader than a biopic – to tell a story of this scope you need six hours, and that’s why it’s produced as a miniseries.”
Mandela, perhaps the most iconic personality of the 20th century, personally approved the making of the series before he passed away on December 5, 2013.
“He requested that this programme was not just about him, but included all the freedom fighters and people involved in, and dedicated to, toppling apartheid,” says March. The episodic series tells the story of Mandela’s life from his young days in Johannesburg, focusing on the political unrest of the 1960s that came before he was jailed by the government and kept incarcerated for 27 years.
“It tells the story of his colleagues and friends too, in a chronological manner, following the key events that shaped the revolution,” says March, adding: “It’s being done as a modern, contemporary story.”
In a crowded TV market, having source material as rich and dramatic as Mandela’s life is a boon.
“I’m not sure if there is anyone in the world who doesn’t know what he stands for,” says March, who launched Dynamic with Klaus Zimmerman in 2013. “He embodies freedom, overcoming adversity and human values. From a marketing perspective this is a very exciting property.”
Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix Trilogy) plays the lead role, with Kevin Hooks (Prison Break) directing. Mandela’s grandson, Kweku Mandela from Out of Africa Entertainment, is among the executive producers, whom also include Left Bank Pictures chief Andy Harries.
The series is based on two Mandela books, Conversations with Myself and Nelson Mandela By Himself. Dynamic has global distribution rights ahead of its 2017 debut in America.
The show: Madiba
The producers: Blue Ice Pictures, Out of Africa Entertainment, Left Bank Pictures
The distributor: Dynamic Television
The broadcaster: BET Networks (US)
The concept: Miniseries telling the epic story of Nelson Mandela’s quest for political and racial equality in South Africa