7de Lol: We rank South Africa’s soapie extras

The last time I watched 7de Laan was back in 2007 when I was trying to improve my Afrikaans. Felicity was paralysed, Neville was alive, and Errol had moved from grade eight to matric in a matter of months.

So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that not only were all of those characters gone, but that the latest story line saw a group of idiots suffering a plane crash in Mpumalanga.

Naturally, I had to catch up.

The drama was ridiculous — as was to be expected. But the rewatch reminded me of one of my favourite parts of soap operas: extras.

Few of the characters in the background seem to know how human beings function, and many barely want to be there at all.

I have thus taken it upon myself to rank the week’s best extras in South African soapies.

8. Uzalo (10 July)

8 uzalo

While the two young ‘uns in front talk about girlfriends and and strict parents, a landscape of changing friends is happening in the background. At the beginning of the scene, there are five friends. By the end? One has left and three have joined — with one of them appearing out of thin air.

It’s beautiful what the magic of friendship and not having food at a restaurant can do for you.

7. Generations: The Legacy (12 July)

7 generations

Prison might seem difficult, but it isn’t for this guy in the back who seems to be genuinely enjoying his catch-up with pals. Maybe he’s recounting his Youth Day strip show to his friends. Or maybe he’s been in the studio so long that he and his co-extras are now genuine friends.

Either way, his enthusiasm did not go unnoticed.

6. Generations: The Legacy (12 July)

6 generations

While the audience hears of how Abe’s body was burned in a drum, homeboy in the back is ready to shoot his shot. Stocked with what looks like real beer, he is eyeing his TV girlfriend with what looks like nervous attraction. Or he’s just a good actor — either way, neither of them seem to know what a real conversation looks like. Bless.

5. Isidingo 20, episode 82

5 isidingo

Morongwa might be contemplating how to coerce Gatanga into being a semi-decent level blesser, but your girl in the background is waiting to be scouted. Never missing a moment to grin and smize, Little Miss Red Shirt is ready for her speaking role.

We see you, and we support you every step of the way.

4. Isidingo 20, episode 84

4 isidingo

Picture the scene: You just saw a close friend accept a marriage proposal at her baby shower. Her water then breaks, and she is rushed off to hospital. Chances are, you’re going to lose your damn mind.

Not Kamogelo’s friends, though. They live in the Isidingo universe and have had more than their share of witnessing drama. So back to casually chatting over some mimosas it is.

3. 7de Laan (11 July)

3 7de laan

Look, sometimes people just forget how to hold a cup of tea. It’s difficult to remember when there’s no tea in your cup to begin with so you have to pretend a) that there is and b) that you’re not an alien learning human behaviour for the first time.

Add to the fact that Xander and Vince are still going at it, and he’s probably yearning for Hilda and Oubaas to come back because this would have never happened in the deli, and you have yourself a very difficult acting job at hand.

Let’s just be grateful he remembered to hold the cup in the first place.

2. Isidingo 20, episode 84

2 isidingo

Homeboy in Hillside is a rookie when it comes to drinking beverages. Take this woman in the blue jacket who joins her friends at a table with orange juice for them and a big ol’ glass of red for herself — at what appears to be around 10am.

We’ve established that life as a Horizon Deep resident is not easy, but, damn, girl. Hope you’re okay. You deserve better friends.

1. Skeem Saam (10 July)

1 skeem saam

Mokgadi, it doesn’t matter how upset you are — if you raise your voice in a fancy restaurant, you will receive death stares and shakes of the head. Just ask this woman, who looks like she’s planning your smack down vividly in her mind.

This woman’s acting is fiercer than any main character on 7de Laan, and for that she’s earned top billing in this very formal ranking.

Let me know if anyone else deserved to be on this list — there’s nothing that thrills me more than the lives of background characters in soaps.



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