Egyptian and satellite channels gear up for the biggest season of the year
“Ramadan Kareem. We use these words to greet each other at the start of the month of fasting. The phrase translates as “Ramadan is generous, marking the surplus in everything: food, dessert, traffic jams and most of all the number of terrestrial and satellite channels we are exposed to everyday.
Speaking of TV, I think the most generous people are the writers, producers, and directors of the Ramadan serials who are in a race against time to wrap-up their filming. I also think that the actors are real “rebels with a cause because we will see actors tackling record numbers of TV serials: here he’s playing a businessman, there he is an omda or an Upper Egyptian and elsewhere he is sporting a big wig to play the King of Persia in a historical drama.
Writing a Ramadan program guide is like creating a science fiction thriller. Some people, like the programming masterminds, are sworn to secrecy because they are afraid that competitors might steal their ingenious creations. Others, notably the national TV channels, are still scheduling El-Kharita (the program map), deciding whether Ilham Shahin will come before or after Mona Zaky.
Anyway, this Ramadan is the season of comebacks with Soheir Ramzy (now veiled) returning after fifteen years in Habib El-Roh (Soul-Mate) co-starring Mostapha Fahmy. Also singer Warda is coming back in the musical serial Aan El-Awan (It is Time) co-starring Khaled Selim, Hassan Hossny and Zeina.
A few years ago, Shabab Online, the first Egyptian sitcom, launched the career of Boshra, Ahmed El-Fishawy and Lekaa El-Khamissy. Now, we have enough sitcoms to compete with Paramount Comedy Channel. First, El-Fishway will star in Tamer and Shawkia with May Kassab; Ahmed Falawkas and Ingy El-Mokadem in Ahmed Etgawez Mona (Ahmed Has Married Mona); and finally, Afish Wi Tashbih, co-produced by screenwriter Mohamed Hefzy and Tarek El-Ganainy through their newly established company Media Clinic. Each episode will spoof a classic Egyptian film.
Of course, Ramadan is also the season of biographies. Currently shooting in more than 33 episodes is the new serial El-Andaleeb, re-tracing the life of great Egyptian singer Abdel-Halim Hafez in the most meticulous details from his early childhood through his stardom. Newcomer Shady Shamel is playing Abdel-Halim in his youth, competing with the late Ahmed Zaky whose portrayal of Halim has just been showing in cinemas.
But if you are looking for more of the Andaleeb (before they decide to make El-Andaleeb Reloaded and El-Andaleeb Revolutions next Ramadan), you can catch Medhat Saleh playing Halim in another biographical serial Cinderella. Written by Mamdouh El-Leithy and produced by Tarek Nour, this serial, troubled by lawsuits, will be shown exclusively on LBC with Mona Zaki filling the shoes of another great actress, Soad Hosny.
And if TV melodramas aren’t your piece of cake, there are plenty of programs, talk shows and candid cameras. El-Mahkama (The Court) will feature Khaled Habib as a judge who will try celebrities in his own special court. Starmaker is back in its fourth season for 15 episodes. As usual the program will be hosted by Amir Kararra and will feature special guest judges including Gad El-Sheweiry, Hegazy Metaal, Iwan, Khaled Selim, Mohamed El-Helw, Razan Maghreby and Samo Zein.
El-Nass Wa Ana (The People & Me) is a new talk show presented by Egyptian star Hussein Fahmy, making his debut as a TV host. The show was conceived by writer Hazem El-Hadidy and director Mohamed Murad and produced by Sherif Arafa and will feature Fahmy receiving ordinary people who will talk about very interesting topics, including funny and strange comments on our daily life. Enjoy the surfing!