The long-awaited return of The Hostel is finally here. This evening, at 7:30pm (immediately after the Luganda bulletin called Akawungezi), all eyes will be on NTV.
After a year and a half of being off-air, The Hostel is back on our screens, this time round as The Hostel: Serenity, not The Hostel: New Edge. But nothing is the same. The show comes back with a fresh-look, new faces, different location and storyline.
However, not to create a paradox, the TV series kicks off by updating you as to why you won’t be seeing anything about The Hostel: New Edge (season 1-3) anymore. Well, it turns out that Alma (Dickson Zizinga), the owner of New Edge, didn’t only try to hit on female students but also evaded taxes. And that is where the latest production carries the story forward; his arrest and final closedown of his hostel gives The Hostel: Serenity chance to begin on a new chapter – in a new setting and environment (hostel).
Therefore, The Hostel: Serenity has nothing to do with the past seasons; it shouldn’t be termed as ‘season 4’.
According to Richard Geria, the series’ executive producer, The Hostel went off-air because the season was done. However, the break lasted longer than anticipated because of issues beyond them; sponsors were cutting their budgets, and somehow, the show was caught in-between. But with NTV buying the series and demonstrating that they can support it, it has saved the producers the task of looking for sponsors.
During the recess, a lot of things were reported, for example, how the entire cast had rebelled against the producers, citing poor wages, which resulted in their getting fired. Geria, though, notes that no one was fired. For instance, Danielle Kahunde is part of the filming crew. Thus, the former cast is still part of the team and will be making guest appearances during the series.
“Naturally, there was no way the old cast would still be at the university since 2011,” Geria defended the idea of overhauling the cast.
“In hostels, people come and go.”
The story idea is still in sync with the former, especially with addressing key issues in hostels such as sex abuse where Ronah Nankinga sleeps with her roommate’s dad. Yet on the other side of things, one of her closest friends, Ryan Musoke (portrayed by Mushema Housen), has a past of addictions.
Kennedy Kihire, the series’ director, notes that having been in a hostel as a student at Makerere University gives him an experience to reflect on, and thus, Ugandans should expect a story that will touch each person differently. The new season comes at a time when many TV stations are doing their best to have local content to compete favourably in the wake of the July digital migration deadline.
“The immense success of the first [season] is a clear sign that the Ugandan audience has already embraced local content,” Geria says.
With Deceptions coming on shortly after The Hostel on Mondays and Tuesdays, it means NTV has successfully created a 90- minute local programming block between 7:30pm and 9:00pm.
Research has shown that local content generates huge ratings. The classic example is the Citizen TV in Kenya and our own Bukedde TV. It is no different in many other countries where foreign productions have been challenged by local content. Who knows, The Hostel, Deceptions and Mini Buzz, among others, may be Uganda’s answer to the Prison Breaks of this world.