Video: Homesickness, humor reigns on ‘Vetkoekpaleis II’ set

Henry

“It’s like we’ve gone back in time 25 years. Everything looks and feels the same now.”

This is how the writer and actor Willie Esterhuizen describes the atmosphere on the set of Vetkoekpaleis II – which will be filmed live in front of audiences at the AfriForum Theater in Pretoria until the end of October.

RNews recently reported that this beloved Afrikaans comedy will soon get a revival or “reboot”, and will once again be directed by brothers Willie and Pieter Esterhuizen, who were responsible for the original series.

“Everyone asks why, but why not? We know the characters work, the dialogue works, it’s funny. Now we have elements like social media and the Internet to add, so why not make a 2023 version?” Willie tells RNews at one of the beloved, fictional Nigel’s restaurant’s tables.

In Vetkoekpaleis II “Klein Frikkadel”, son of the late Zack du Plessis and Hélene Truter’s characters, Frikkadel and Poppie, ran the Vetkoekpaleis into the abyss while his mother lived by the sea. However, Uncle Wors, played by Willie, together with his wife, Molly (Lizz Meiring), intervenes to restore the restaurant to its full glory. Boeboe’s daughter, “Boudjies”, will also slip into the distinctive yellow and blue uniform.

The new Vetkoekpaleisset may be somewhat smaller, but the distinctive blue and white tablecloths, “food and cold drinks” menus and Oom Frikkadel’s rugby memorabilia, many still from the original SAUC set, provide a good dose of homesickness.

“Vetkoek’s recipe worked. It has heart. You see the people with their faults and how they accept each other. These are our pond’s ducks, common blue collar-comedy. This is why it worked and still does,” says Willie.

“Everyone fit into their roles so well and the audiences really enjoyed it. There is nothing as fun as recording a comedy in front of an audience. People also only laugh when it’s really funny, so it’s a good determinant of what stays and what needs to be cut,” he adds about the filming process.

The actor Wynand van Vollenstee, who steps into “Klein Frikkadel’s” big shoes, says this role is “a full circle moment”.

“I don’t think there is an African who hasn’t watched it at one point or another. I watched it as a kid and my eight year old son is watching it on YouTube now. You still try to make sense of the fact that you experienced it as a child and can now be a part of it – it’s just a festival.”

Danielle Retief, known for her role as Shakira in Haasbroek Pune,’s character “Boudjies” may be one of the new ones people of the palacebut as a child she was at home on the original Vetkoekpaleis set.

“Me and Pieter Esterhuizen’s daughter, Sanchia, were best friends at primary school, so I spent a lot of time with the family on the set. My mother has a good laugh and was also often part of the audience.”

Although she plays Boeboe’s daughter, Danielle emphasizes that she does not want to imitate Liane Heyl – who gave life to this beloved character.

“We have worked together often and she is excited for me and encouraged me to take the opportunity. Liane brightened up the room with Boeboe and I want Boudjies to do the same.”

She also understands audiences who are protective of the original series, but feels modern audiences deserve to too Vetkoekpaleis to experience anew – especially with the live recordings.

“I think it will captivate younger audiences and draw them back to the original series and encourage the older audiences to just watch everything all over again,” she teases.

For Lizz Meiring, who at the time played Boeboe’s cousin, “Sue-Ellen”, in the original series, the first day of filming was Vetkoekpaleis II as déjà vu.

“They put so much effort into recreating the set and saving some of the props, but regardless, it remains good quality Afrikaans entertainment. The way in which Pieter and Willie make television proves that good humor is not time bound, but is forever.”

Mixing new and older characters and actors from both Vetkoekpaleis and Molly and Sausage according to Lizz, will provide delicious humor.

“Back then we wore such short dresses and high heels. When Willie contacted me now, I was scared at first, because I don’t think I can wear those outfits anymore,” she jokes.

She also has only praise for the younger guard on the set and says the “oldies” have already polished off each other’s corners to be honest about what works.

“We have a good balance between the different generations. In the end, we all have only one goal in mind and that is to tell a story. We only have the channels to serve the story – whether young or old.”

She believes even those who have never Vetkoekpaleis have not watched, will resonate with the new revival.

Vetkoekpaleis is as authentically South African as a braaibroodjie, soup porridge and nut coffee. It is a reflection of who and what we are as people. All the ordinary things we laugh, cry and wonder about are intertwined in it. You can just sit back and have a good laugh.”

  • Watch RNews’s visit to the set here Vetkoekpaleis II: