Meet the Production Powerhouse Behind Castle Lite’s #TheLiteShow!”

Africa’s biggest premium beer brand, Castle Lite, and South African Film and Television production company, Burnt Onion, are two of the most innovative brands in the country. Not only do they constantly push the boundaries of imagined creativity for pop culture in SA, but they both always dare to do something that has never been done before.

It is this familiarity that made Burnt Onion the obvious choice when Castle Lite was shopping around for a production house to produce The Lite Show, Mzansi’s first-ever digital satirical news show. It was their combination of fresh creativity and a commitment to quality, from concept to delivery, that made them the perfect team to entrust this vision to.

For the past 10 weeks, South Africans have enjoyed a one-of-a-kind weekly news program from the comfort of their homes. It has turned out to be a fun and lite-hearted take on news and current affairs hosted by comedian and TV personality, Donovan Goliath alongside the hilarious duo that is Mojak Lehoko and Lihle Msimang.

Castle Lite felt that for such a unique concept, there was only one production house that could bring their vision to life, Burnt Onion Productions.

The production company is founded and run by 3 creatives who keep it in the family and are no strangers to South African TV fans. Managing Director, Katleho Ramaphakela is an award-winning actor, writer and producer who has worked on numerous local shows. He brings his extensive experience in the audio-visual arts to the team to ensure that everything is cooked to perfection.

“We wanted to make people laugh and get people feeling good again and this is how The Lite Show was born”

Rethabile “Retti” Ramaphakela

Creative Director #TheLiteShow!

General Manager of Burnt Onion, Tshepo Ramaphakela runs the business side of things and brings over eight years of experience as an analyst and statistician to the kitchen.

And the wildly popular and award-winning presenter, voice-over artist, writer-producer and director, Rethabile “Retti” Ramaphakela serves as the Creative Director of the team. She brings her distinctive creative genius to the table with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Motion Picture Medium from AFDA and having worked across a range of television genres, she truly is an all-rounder.

When asked why they chose to be part of such a unique show, the production team says they wanted to bring some much-needed relief to viewers who have had a tough year. “This year got a lot of people down so we partnered with Castle Lite so we could change that. We wanted to make people laugh and get people feeling good again and this is how The Lite Show was born. It is an alternative to all the bad news on the media. It was exciting to create this piece of Branded Entertainment,” said Retti.

Retti is no stranger to producing culture-shifting TV for Castle Lite. As the creative director of the brand’s Ultimate House Vibe reality show, which received rave reviews on Mzansi Magic last year, she knew that the stakes were high. Both Castle Lite and Burnt Onion wanted the show to live online because it was unchartered territory for local television, and they wanted fans to be able to enjoy the show as many times as they wanted to. “Online is immediate. You can watch it at any time and at any place, unlike scheduled TV viewing. That’s what makes it exciting but also a bit more difficult to reach your audience. There is so much content online that you have to find creative ways to rise above the clutter. We have managed to achieve this well and our growing viewership is proof of this,” Retti continued.

But of course, with the tight restrictions imposed on the world by the Covid-19 pandemic, producing a show of this nature was not an easy process. The team had to follow some strict protocols on set. While filming their other big production, How to Ruin Christmas, a 3-part Netflix mini-series, Burnt Onion had to test and quarantine with the entire cast and crew of the series and no one was allowed to go home for the duration of the shoot (6 weeks). And although Retti admits that it was a tough production, she also acknowledges that they managed to work around the restrictions to still bring quality content, and this stood them in good stead for their work on The Lite Show set.

If anything, 2020 has taught Retti and her team to push the boundaries even further and be innovative in their approach to things. “2020 was the year that all our lives changed, but it wasn’t all bad. It forced us to think out of the box. It allowed us to create and come up with different ways to get our content to audiences. We are beginning to see the fruits of that creative labour now. The first being our Netflix African Original Christmas Series, How to Ruin Christmas, which will be launched globally on Netflix in December, and the second one being The Lite Show. Working with a brand like Castle Lite to bring weekly fun and entertainment to YouTube viewers is always such a great partnership. We love Castle Lite because they are not afraid to try new things and break boundaries. The show has grown from strength to strength and it has been fun to make,” she concluded.

Catch The Lite Show dropping every Friday at 21:30 on Castle Lite’s official YouTube channel (CastleLiteSA).


Joburg Style chatted to Franscoe Bouwer who is the Marketing Manager of Castle Lite…

JS: What is the inspiration behind The Lite Show ?

FB: The Lite Show was born out of a consumer need to not only be entertained but to be informed in an entertaining manner. When this idea was birthed, it was a very different time, We will all still in lockdown and traditional news were all saying the same things and overtly negative and heavy. Castle Lite wanted to show the Lite side.

JS: Satire is a unique coping mechanism for South Africans, are there topics that are barred from the show? If so which topics and why? 

FB: The South African sense of humour has always been our enduring strength through dark times. I would not say specific topics are barred, but given the tumultuous times we live in, we need to be sensitive on to the topics we touch. As a global Brewer and the biggest premium brand in Africa, we have an inherent responsibility to not promote any irresponsible behaviour for alcohol and COVID regulations. We try to ensure we always keep this top of mind

JS: What was the selection process for the cast and the production team?

FB: We have a great history with Burnt Onion stemming from Ultimate House Party and then Ultimate House Vibe, so they were a natural choice, they get the brand and consumer. Except for Donovan, we left it in BO hands to source the crew, and they did a tremendous job! Donovan Goliath, as Castle Lite Ambassador was always the first and only choice for us.

JS: Would you have done anything differently?

FB: The beauty of our intense production plan we were able to learn as we go. Having the show live on YouTube meant we could learn, produce and edits each episode every week. We were able to adapt and adjust every week. Not just the media, but the promotion of the show and finessing the segments. Given that the success of the show came from this learning journey, I would not change a thing.

JS: Take us through the creative process as Castle Lite towards this project.

FB: Everything we do stems from a consumer insight or human truth, this remained the same for this entertainment platform. We knew consumers were craving edutainment and high-quality production, so we looked for inspiration from westernized shows like The Daily Show and The Late Show. We then tried to derive and strategy or recipe for success from observing what they all did well and adopt it locally. We like to act quick, take risks and learn fast. This was the agile approach we took for The Lite Show. If you watch Ep 1 and then Ep 12 directly after, I think you will see a substantial change in the show as a whole.

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