New Sci-Fi Drama Features South Africa’s Legendary Ghost Stories: Die Spreeus

Inexplicable, mysterious and supernatural phenomena are all under the spotlight in new TV series Die Spreeus which kicked off this week, telling legendary stories from different cultures in South Africa – from the Ghost of Uniondale to the Tokoloshe. And if you miss the kykNET broadcast (20:00 every Tuesday), you can catch up immediately on streaming service Showmax – episodes go live simultaneously as they air and can be streamed or downloaded to your device to watch later. (Watch trailer below.)

Each episode sees Starling Investigation Unit detectives – Bas Koorts and Beatrice Mack (Chris Vorster and Monique Rockman) – follow crimes and criminals from other worlds – and sometimes other dimensions!

“The Starlings is a playful reference to The Hawks, the South African police force’s elite investigation unit. They call themselves starlings because they don’t have the budget or infrastructure that their ‘bigger brother’ has. They need to make do with what they have,” says Chris.

Ghosts, ghouls and legends

“We’re not dealing with the traditional vampires and zombies and scary animals when we speak of unusual phenomena,” says Chris, who most famously portrayed Ryno Lategan on SABC2 soapie 7de Laan until 2015.

“We are telling well-known stories from South Africa’s many cultures. We have everything from myths and fables to ghost stories and goblins, like the Ghost of Uniondale and the Tokoloshe (a dwarf-like water sprite revered in the Zulu culture for its mischief and evil powers).

The name of the series – Die Spreeus (‘The Starlings’ in English) – refers to the investigating unit that starts as a joke by Chris’s character in episode 1.

“The Starlings is a playful reference to The Hawks, the South African police force’s elite investigation unit. They call themselves starlings because they don’t have the budget or infrastructure that their ‘bigger brother’ has. They need to make do with what they have,” says Chris.

Knowing the unknown

 

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“Bas Koorts is a complex character who’s experienced tremendous sadness,” explains Chris. “For years he was a top detective who had criminals shaking in their boots. After his wife’s death, everything changed and he is now a shadow of his former self.”

But while his interest in hard crime has dimmed, Bas’s love for the supernatural is as sharp as ever. “He has read and researched the supernatural world a great deal and considers himself somewhat of an expert,” says the actor with a laugh.

Bas hasn’t been forgotten by his colleagues and Brigadier Rosa Scheffers (Sandi Schultz) who offers him a role leading Die Spreeus team. She is his sister-in-law and they have remained good friends after his wife, her sister, passed away.

“Before Rosa approaches him, Bas is working as a security guard at a mall with an irritating boss,” says Chris. “This job will help him rebuild his career and his self-image.”

An open cup and an opened mind

Die Spreeus isn’t just another supernatural series, adds Chris, who is hoping that viewers will approach it with an open mind.

“Our goal isn’t to tell outrageous stories that test your beliefs and values. Yes, there are some very unusual stories, but each episode is about the characters and their life stories, emotions and experiences. That is what makes our show and its stories so real.”

The rest of the flock

Bas isn’t alone in his quest to solve supernatural cases. He’s got a partner in crime and a friend at the top:

Brigadier Scheffers (Sandi Schultz) founded Die Spreeus. She feels driven to solve strange cases that the other police teams can’t or won’t tackle. But there is more to the story – she’s got something to hide and Sandi teases that her secret and the show in general will leave viewers’ jaws on the floor: “The visual effects are exceptional and the way that our writers have formed and shaped these stories is truly impressive.”

Detective Beatrice Mack (Monique Rockman) is Bas’s spoilt, hot-shot temperamental partner on the team. And she is nobody’s fool, says Monique.

“Beatrice gave up her career in physics and science to become a detective, mainly to irritate her businessman father Bernie (Kevin Smith) who doesn’t approve of this work.”

Beatrice joins Die Spreeus not believing in the supernatural world herself despite Bernie having her mom Erica (Theresa Sedras) committed for her unwavering belief in the spirit world.

Stream every episode of Die Spreeus on Showmax on Tuesdays from 20:00, and keep an eye out for our weekly recaps on the Showmax blog!

Start watching now »

WATCH Trailer Die Spreeus