Justin Bonello's Ultimate Braai Master is going global

2016-03-12 10:00

Cape Town – Justin Bonello might just be the Ultimate Braai Master of the Universe. His show is going global, picked up by Travel Channel and Discovery, with the format rights also sold to America and Canada as well.

The presenter and producer of Ultimate Braai Master which has seen seasons of his braai competition show on SABC3, then e.tv, and now also on the Travel Channel (DStv 179) on MultiChoice's DStv platform, has also had it picked up by Discovery Networks International.

Viewers who haven't seen the 4th season - that was recently shown and concluded on e.tv - can now catch up and watch it on the Travel Channel . “This is our 4th season of Ultimate Braai Master and we're really privileged to be having it on air on the Travel Channel again,” Justin tells Channel24.

“With Discovery Networks International having bought it as well; the show is going to be on air in South America and the Caribbean. The first format rights are up in Canada and the United States so you're going to see an international version of Ultimate Braai Master,” says Justin.

Meanwhile, he is already working on the 5th season that will be broadcast later this year on e.tv.

A lovely evolution

“I created this show and literally the day we finish shooting one season we start pre-production on the next one; it's a 12-month cycle for me,” he says. 

This year the 5th season of Ultimate Braai Master has been delayed until June because Coca-Cola that was onboard as a sponsor unexpectedly pulled out.

“Coca-Cola changing global strategy told us that they're not taking part this year. A lot of people in the media game understand that the media spend is completely different from what it used to be a year ago and we're all fighting much harder for that. And sadly Ultimate Braai Master is reliant on sponsors to get the show on air.

“We are still really proud of the show, it stars South Africans and celebrates who we are as a people featuring some of the most beautiful landscapes,” says Justin.

Asked about the creative evolution of Ultimate Braai Master from the first season to now he says “There's always a lovely evolution with shows you produce. And when you sit down in your editing suite at the end of the day you really beat yourself over the head because you say 'I could have made this so much better.’”

“And I feel quite sad sometimes because in South Africa the budgets are so restricted, what happens is producers must make their money from the production, and what happens is the production suffers.

“So we've always looked at it from the other level, where you go out and create the best content that you can, with everything that you can. Nowadays I also watch Netflix where I choose what I want to watch when I want to watch.”

“That selection is going to become bigger and bigger in our mindsets.

“You get local broadcasters, putting schlock up there that no-one watches … and it shouldn't be like that.”

Come rain or shine we braai!

“It's cheaper for us to shoot Ultimate Braai Master out of season,” Justin reveals.

“We have 30 contestants, 70 crew and go all around the country. We must accommodate those people everywhere. If we did it in high season, we wouldn't be able to go to some of the places that we're at. In terms of content? We have a rule on the road: Come rain or shine, we braai.

“With Ultimate Braai Master we've had snow in the Drakensberg, hail, you name it, it's happened to us and we just carry on.

Ultimate Braai Master has been nominated for a South African Film and Television Award (Safta).”

“It's its second year that it's up for a Safta. It won last year. It's nice to be recognised always by your peers for the work that you produce,” he says.

“I’d rather be standing there with an Emmy – we entered it for the International Emmys as well – but I'm very proud that we got nominated for the Saftas again this year and recognised for our production.”

The 4th season of Ultimate Braai Master starts on the Travel Channel (DStv 179) on 29 March at 21:00.

(Photos: Ultimate Braai Master)

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