The Girl From St Agnes, the first Showmax Original drama, broke an important record on its debut on the service yesterday. The number of unique viewers in the first 24 hours exceeded that of the previous record-holder, the Showmax Original comedy series Tali's Wedding Diary. In addition, the number of views was more than double that of the most popular Hollywood series on its debut.
"We're over the moon," says Candice Fangueiro, Head of Content for the Connected Video division of MultiChoice, which houses Showmax. "This shows without a shadow of a doubt that local content is a major differentiator, and it also shows that African productions can not only hold their own against the best in the world but they can actually come out on top."
In The Girl From St Agnes, a popular student is found dead at a prestigious all-girls boarding school in the Midlands. The police are quick to declare the death of Lexi Summerveld (newcomer Jane de Wet) a tragic accident, but drama teacher Kate Ballard (Paris Fashion Week and Vogue model Nina Milner, who also starred in Troy: Fall Of A City) doesn't believe it. The more she investigates, the more Kate realises that she didn't really know Lexi or the school at all. Behind the imposing walls of St Agnes, Lexi's killer won't be the only person exposed...
Showmax has a strong catalogue of Hollywood and UK series and movies, including exclusive hit shows from major studios that aren't available anywhere else. These 'first and only' shows are a key part of the appeal of the service and drive major viewing volumes. Local content - including favourites from Mzansi Magic and kykNET- is the second pillar of Showmax's service and what sets it apart from others. Showmax Originals are set to become the third pillar of the service, with two successful Originals already released and more in the pipeline for later this year.
Going into more detail on viewing patterns for The Girl from St Agnes, Fangueiro said. "We'd, of course, hoped that The Girl from St Agnes would get loads of views, but what we didn't expect was how many people have already watched the entire series. That's eight one-hour episodes in less than 24 hours - a serious testament to how binge-worthy the show is."
The Girl From St Agnes stars Milner, de Wet, Tyrone Keogh (24 Hours To Live) in his first local role since being named SA's sexiest actor during his time on The Wild; Serenity and District 9 actor Robert Hobbs; and Monte Carlo Best Actor finalist Graham Hopkins (The Lab). They're supported by internationally recognised South African talent like Tessa Jubber (Wallander), former Olympic swimmer Karl Thaning (Dredd), and Shamilla Miller (Troy: Fall Of A City); hot new talent like Jane de Wet, Paige Bonnin and 2018 Fleur Du Cap Best Student nominee Tristan de Beer; and local favourites like Strictly Come Dancing winner Zakeeya Patel (Isidingo), Makgotso M (Is'Thunzi), Celeste Khumalo (The Queen), and Jocelyn Broderick (Getroud Met Rugby: Die Sepie).
2018 SAFTA winner Catharine Cooke and 2017 SAFTA nominee Cindy Lee co-direct, with the multi-award-winning Quizzical Pictures producing.
Binge The Girl From St Agnes first and only to Showmax at https://www.showmax.com/eng/tvseries/fu974m61-the-girl-from-st-agnes. The series is also being distributed internationally by Red Arrow Studios International (Death and Nightingales, Bosch).
What South Africa is saying:
"The kind of story that makes viewers want to click 'continue watching' at 3 a.m. and talk about it at work the next day." Quartz
"The Girl From St Agnes has its hooks in us and we want more..." Htxt
"Who knew the Midlands, with its lush green pastoral backdrops, could have this much killer intrigue?" Critical Hit
"We were captivated from beginning to end... Like nothing you've seen on SA TV before." Popcorn and Sugar
"Definitely the first of its kind for South Africa... I was immediately taken back to my alma mater, eerily so..." Mail and Guardian
"Highly addictive... the production standards are incredibly high and on par with (or, dare we say, better than some) international series.... a gripping eight-part murder mystery that's thrilling, horrifying and will have you talking to your TV like it's real life." All4Women
"The story keeps you at the edge of your seat... Unlike anything you have seen on South African television... A truly binge-able experience... " The South African
"Brilliant, bracing and completely binge-worthy! This may be one of the best productions South African has ever seen." Brent Lindeque from Good Things Guy on Twitter