Although the medical cases in Heart beat is based on truths, makes eyes widen and stomachs turn, Zoë Laband, author of the series, believes that this should not be the focus of the sequel.
“We’re not watching a documentary about medical oddities, we’re watching a drama series about doctors, their emotions, where they win and where they lose.
“Every character is so different. They experience deep sadness, but also joy and growth,” Zoë explained to RNews.
Zoë has been ruminating for about five years now heartbeat, the series that finally found its home on kykNET, DStv channel 144. This sequel took not only thorough planning, but hours of interview time and long sessions with doctors and other experts in the area.
Long before Zoë picked up the pen to create characters and storylines, she made appointments with various medical personnel, from medical students to specialists, to find out more about the nature of their work.
“I asked them about the strangest, saddest, funniest and most touching cases they had ever dealt with. I couldn’t believe that all these cases happened in South Africa.”
“We couldn’t even use most of the cases either – it was hopelessly too sad.”
She also reached out to various countries, and came across funny overseas medical cases through X, formerly Twitter. “There are hundreds of American doctors who have shared some of their most interesting cases on X,” says Zoë.
It was also a challenge to continuously maintain a balance between the sad, dramatic and absurd cases. The series is peppered with cases ranging from life-sized parasites to drunkenness without alcohol consumption.
While the cases are interesting, they were never the focus of the series. As a writer, she wanted to draw a layer of truth about the series, but admits that it was never the most important element for her.
“At the end of the day, it has to entertain the viewer. Unfortunately, some of the finer medical details are a bit boring. People won’t want to watch a five-hour procedure.” They had to decide what was exciting about the operation, and then devote 30 seconds in the scene to it.
Each episode is also written with the careful attention of a medical doctor, Dr. Andreq Breslin. Zoë admits that she is by no means a medical expert, and that she often just left open spaces where the procedures were discussed. Dr. Breslin then had to examine the text to fill in the correct terminology.
There was also a team of medical experts, such as doctors and nurses, who were on the set daily Heart beat worked, Christo Davids, actor and one of the directors of the series, told RNews earlier.
“Many of the people who were involved in this series are people who do this for a living,” said Christo.
The series is an engaging sequel that follows the life stories of several doctors, specialists and interns working in a state hospital.
Zoë specifically wanted the series to take place in a state hospital because a legion of South Africans do not have access to private hospitals. Along with this, doctors who receive their training in South Africa are expected to work in a state hospital for two years before they can earn their own living.
Doctors who are specializing in a certain field are also required to work for a while in state hospitals.
“So you get every kind of doctor in a state hospital. We were able to capture the variety nicely.”
A string of heavyweights can be seen in this series, including Dawid Minnaar, Leandie du Randt, Simoné Pretorius, Marlee van der Merwe, Jacques Bessenger, David Louw and Rika Sennett. Christel van den Bergh, Carla Classen, Renate Stuurman and Oros Mampofu can also be seen in the series.
Along with that, dozens of familiar faces will enter over the course of the series Heart beat featured, including Arno Marais, Thulani Mtsweni, Susan Coetzer, Vusi Thanda, Esmerelda Bihl, Zetske van Pletzen, Elma Postma, Francois Jacobs and Bouwer Bosch.
- Heart beat is broadcast on Tuesdays at 20:00 on kykNET, DStv channel 144.