‘Challenge’ is too much for Botswana

Web pulls racy reality show

KIGALI, Rwanda — It’s a mystery that even detective Mma Precious Ramotswe from HBO’s Botswana-set “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,” may not be able to solve.

The country’s first reality show, “The Challenge,” following fast-living local celeb Thabiso Nasha as he tries to improve his life, has disappeared.

The much-hyped 13-part skein was scheduled for a Sept. 6 preem on pubcaster Botswana TV.

That was postponed until Sept. 21. But after a delay for what sources close to Nasha cited as “internal politics,” Btv pulled it again.

Media scribes have bashed Btv for failing to explain the decision. A spokeswoman for Btv told Variety she was “not at liberty” to discuss it.

No new date has been set and Nasha has refused to comment further.

Nasha, who presents Btv’s “American Idol”-style “My Star,” is the son of presidential affairs minister Margaret Nasha.

“The Challenge” follows his exploits as he attempts to shed his reputation as a loose-living ladies’ man, giving up cigarettes, booze and latenight partying, to settle into family life with his wife and newborn child.

In the show’s finale, he plans to battle a professional boxer in what he says is a symbolic bout to highlight Botswana’s struggle with HIV/AIDS, which affects one in four adults.

It’s an attempt to cast him as a role model for Botswana’s youth.

“If Thabiso can overcome these challenges, any youth can,” Nasha explained to Botswana’s Mmegi newspaper.

However, he may not have lived up to all the challenges.

A source close to the show, who asked that his name not be used, said that early footage included racy clips that might have been too steamy for primetime in the prudish country — including one of him with prostitutes

Meanwhile, the embattled pubcaster may be under political pressure. It has faced increasing criticism in recent months, accused of slanting its broadcasts in favor of the ruling party.

In August, members of the main opposition group stormed the station after a Btv crew refused to film one of their political rallies. Earlier this month, the National Broadcasting Board censured the pubcaster for its blatant favoritism.

It appears Btv is now playing it safe. The source adds that Btv wants to scrutinize the series more closely before deciding whether to allow it to air.

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