Carte Blanche 25 Years. The Stories Behind the Stories

Carte Blanche burst onto the scene 25 years ago as a genre never before seen on South African television and tells the stories behind the stories.
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Title: Carte Blanche 25 Years
Subtitle: The Stories Behind the Stories
Author: Jessica Pitchford
Publisher: Jonathan Ball Publishers
Johannesburg & Cape Town, South Africa 2013
ISBN 9781868425617 / ISBN 978-1-86842-561-7
Softcover, 15x23 cm, 228 pages, several b/w photos


When Carte Blanche started in August 1988, South Africa was in the opening stages of the roller-coaster ride which, over the next decade, would change the world we live in almost beyond recognition. At the risk of being seriously soppy, I want to misquote Wordsworth's famous lines on the French Revolution: 'Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive. But to be a journalist was very heaven!' And Carte Blanche provided a platform like no other, free of any political or social agenda. We could introduce our (then mainly white) audience to the new (usually black) faces in their world. In the process we got to know them ourselves, in my case often with astonishment as my preconceived ideas came tumbling down, shattered by the laughter of Archbishop Tutu or the quiet grace of a nurse in Alexandra. The country was burning, we were there. People made peace, like one courageous man in Johannesburg's warring hostels, we were there.

Whether it was the dismantling of the group areas, mixed marriages, gays finding the space to speak out, farms given back to people who had been forcibly removed ... we sought out those in the middle of the drama and told their stories. As the country grew and the stories changed, we just kept right on doing it. We travelled into Africa, to Israel, to China, among so many others. Always it was a learning journey. My years at Carte Blanche expanded my horizons beyond anything I could have dreamed of. They taught me to get out of my box, let go of my comfortable assumptions, really listen to whoever the story confronted me with, and then confront the viewers with the same. My colleagues are still doing it. Carte Blanche still lives up to its name: anything goes, no holy cows, always the unexpected. I wish them every success for the many years ahead.

Content: Carte Blanche 25 Years. The Stories Behind the Stories

The Early Years
Rick Lomba and the Luanda Zoo
Below the Belt
War Stories
Tall Stories
Rugby Fever
The Tuli Elephants
Old Bones and Young Blood
Mama Jackey: the Angel of Soweto
Toxic Somalia
Mark, Musk and Madiba
Going, Going, Gone
Fat Cats
Carte Blanche Extras