×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

South Africa’s Showmax Takes Leap of Faith with ‘St. Agnes’

Red Arrow reps streamer’s first scripted drama at Mipcom

A mysterious death at an elite boarding school sets off a frantic search for answers, revealing shocking truths about the past and forcing untold secrets to the surface.

That’s just the beginning of a string of events that will reverberate far beyond the school’s walls in “The Girl from St. Agnes.” The 8 x 52’ murder mystery series is the first scripted drama from Naspers’ Showmax SVOD service, and its first collaboration with South Africa’s multi-award-winning Quizzical Pictures. The series will be represented by Red Arrow Studios International at Mipcom.

Producer Harriet Gavshon drew on her own private school experiences as inspiration for “St. Agnes,” setting the series in the rarefied world of a prestigious boarding school that she said would still feel familiar to foreign audiences.

“It’s a universal story set in an environment that’s recognizable,” she said, adding, “Even though it has some things that are very peculiar to South Africa.”

Using the country’s brooding, misty Midlands as a backdrop, “St. Agnes” unfolds in the days after a popular student’s body is found at the bottom of an old mill. While the school is quick to declare her death a tragic accident, a drama teacher begins to follow disturbing clues that suggest foul play—leading to a number of suspects with their own motives for wanting the girl dead.

The murder mystery is just part of a larger portrait of South African life that will resonate globally according to Gavshon.

“The series deals with misogyny, it deals with teenage sexuality and identity,” she explain. “The issues are very universal, and they’re issues that are very much in the zeitgeist now.”

“St. Agnes” is the second original for Showmax, which Gavshon credits with injecting fresh life into the South African TV biz. “They are adventurous. They know they’re competing on a new terrain, so the offerings really feel fresh,” she said.

For a production company that’s racked up a string of domestic and foreign accolades, including a Peabody Award, a Rose d’Or, and an Intl. Emmy nomination, Gavshon says the collaboration felt like “the right project at the right time.”

“They encouraged us to push ourselves,” she added. “We have been limited by how our television is very atomized in South Africa. SVOD opens up that world. And then hopefully it allows you to stretch yourself in terms of the dramatic possibilities of what you’re exploring.”

More TV

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Good Morning America

    Jussie Smollett Angrily Denies Complicity in Attack

    Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett issued a statement Saturday denying that he orchestrated his Jan. 29 assault, and saying he is “angered” and “devastated” by recent developments in the case. Chicago police want to interview Smollett, after learning new evidence from two Nigerian brothers who were released on Friday night. Local media outlets have [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Empire

    Chicago Police Want to Talk to Jussie Smollett as New Evidence Emerges

    Chicago police are seeking to re-interview “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, after new evidence emerged in his alleged assault. Smollett has claimed that two men attacked him at 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him, and put a noose around his neck. The Chicago Police Department has consistently said [...]

  • Five Takes on Canal Plus, Federation’s

    Just Days Left to Catch Canal Plus’ ‘The Bureau’ on MyFFF

    The most lauded of titles on this year’s MyFrenchFilmFestival, UniFrance’s online showcase featured by over 50 OTT services around the world, may not be a film but a drama series. With four seasons aired, and a milestone in world sales on a French TV show, slow-boiling espionage series ‘Le Bureau des légendes’ (“The Bureau”) is [...]

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content