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The cast of a popular South African soap opera has been fired by the show's producers, leaving the future of the show hanging in the balance.
Generations has been playing on TV screens in South Africa for more than 20 years. The show premiered in 1993, just before the first all-race elections effectively ended apartheid in South Africa.
While the show's glamour was compared to that of American soaps like The Bold and the Beautiful and As the World Turns, the actors' pay was less than glamorous, according to The Associated Press. Sixteen of the show's actors went on strike for more pay. The show's stars claimed that while they were underpaid, broadcaster SABC continued to turn in a hefty profit.
The AP reports that backlash about the firings has been immediate and widespread going as high as the country's political system. Nathi Mthethwa, South Africa's arts and culture minister issued a statement saying that Generations had "contributed to the development and growth of South African talent and the film industry."
In an interview with South African radio station Radio 702, executive producer Mfundi Vundla confirmed the axing of the cast members and expressed no intention of bringing them back.
"Things came to a head when they withheld their services just over a week ago," he said. "We're running a business, so there has to be some resolve…we cannot be playing ping pong."
Vundla announced there will be new, pre-recorded episodes, including the recently dismissed actors, airing until October.
Vundla said Generations would continue on, however. "There were other actors before, there'll be other actors in the future," he said.