Notorious for its cliffhangers, plot twists and emotional rollercoasters, Lockdown takes viewers into the daily battle for survival in the cells and offices of Thabazimbi Women’s Correctional Facility.
As Season 5 picks up, Masebata’s cult is no longer in power. Arch-rivals Mazet (Dawn Thandeka King) and Tyson (Lorcia Cooper) are running the prison yard together, for now.
Governor Deborah Banda (Pamela Nomvete) is under pressure from the Department of Correctional Services, after one death too many at the prison. And Monde (Zola Nombona) is trying to make things right with Vicky (Lauren Jenae).
The action-packed two-minute trailer gives fans their first look at this season’s new star, Sophie Lichaba, aka Sophie Ndaba, who became a household name in South Africa during her two-decade-long starring role as the feisty receptionist Queen Moroka in the SABC1 soapie Generations. In Lockdown, she plays Palesa, the head nurse at Kgotsong Asylum, a key location this season, where Monde’s sister, Katlego (Natasha Thahane), has been transferred.
“Palesa’s a broken woman who’s been through it all,” says Sophie. “She’s so broken she will do anything to feel better, even if it’s not right.”
Sophie joins one of the most impressive casts on South African television, which also includes SAFTA winners Nomsa Buthelezi and Linda Sebezo as fan favourites Slenda and Maki, and the multi-award-winning Patricia Boyer as Sue.
“It’s an all-female power cast,” says Lauren. “You see these magnificent women who are so beautiful in real life, and then they come into prison in Lockdown, and they are grungy and nasty. It’s so nice to be part of a cast like this, where beauty is nothing – it’s all about how dirty you can get and how true to your character.”
“The other show I do, I’m glam and beautiful, with the hair, the heels and all of that,” says Nomsa. “Then on Lockdown, I come with short hair and nothing and I look like a boy. But when you’re a storyteller, you forget about yourself.”
Both Zola and Lorcia say Lockdown helped them escape being typecast.
“At the beginning of my career, I was starting to be typecast as the bimbo with the hair and boobs and short skirts,” says Zola. “I was tired of that, so when this came along, I was like, ‘Thank you, Lord; you’ve answered my prayers; I’ve always wanted to play a character as bare as I can be, without my beauty being enhanced.”
Similarly, Lorcia says, “Before getting Tyson, I was always typecast. I think people always saw the pretty coloured girl with the good body and straight hair… to a point where I used to go to auditions and people would say, ‘You don’t look coloured enough.’”
Lockdown creator Mandla N, who still directs every episode, started his career as an actor on shows like City Ses’la and Ses’Top La before moving into directing. That experience helped turn him into “a cast whisperer,” to quote Zola.
“Authenticity is everything,” he says. “Prison is a gritty, dirty, grungy world and we can‘t glamourise that. So when you see the ladies in prison in Lockdown, you think: ‘This person could give me a run for my money.’”
That authenticity is helped by his decision to film the series at Constitution Hill, the historic prison complex where the likes of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Albertina Sisulu served time.
As Lauren says, “As soon as you get here, you feel the history and the stories that have come out of this prison. It really changes your mindset as soon as you walk in here.”
Showmax will release two episodes every Thursday, from 30 January. If you’re not already addicted to South Africa’s favourite prison drama, you can catch up on the first four episodes of Lockdown S1 on YouTube here, and the previous four seasons on Showmax here.
Battle Axe headed for consoles and PC
A Kickstarter game called Battle Axe is set to be released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, and Linux.
Numskull Games has announced it will be publishing Battle Axe, a pixel-art arcade adventure game, for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, and Linux.
Currently live on crowdfunding site Kickstarter, having smashed its £40,000 goal with still three days to go, Battle Axe grabs one’s attention with its gorgeous pixel artwork and high-octane top-down action.
Lead designer at Numskull Games, Henk Nieborg, says: “Numskull Games brought a real passion to the table when they saw our plans for Battle Axe, with the team they’re personally invested in this sort of classic-style game. We recognised they were the right publishing partner to put Battle Axe in people’s hands and we’re especially excited with the opportunity to see our games at retail.”
Numskill games provided the following features:
- Veteran team: developed by a highly experienced small team, including designer Henk Nieborg (Lionheart, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, Contra 4, Xeno Crisis), composer Manami Matsumae (Mega Man, Final Fight, Shovel Knight), and programmer Mike Tucker (Super House of Dead Ninjas, Xeno Crisis)
- Pixel art fun – an adventure for pixel art enthusiasts, with gorgeously designed characters and environments to enjoy
- Hack n’ slash adventure – classic gameplay will feel familiar yet revitalised,thanks to new gameplay elements, improved controls, detailed pixel art & animations, and a superb soundtrack by legendary composer Manamii Matsumae
- Inspired by the classics – inspired by genre classics like Gauntlet and Golden Axe
- Solo or co-op – choose from three highly-detailed heroes to embark with on your quest, playing alone or with a friend in local co-op
A release date for Battle Axe has not yet been announced.
Spirit of the North comes to Switch and PC
A Nordic-inspired adventure game, Spirit of the North, will be released on PC and Nintendo Switch later this year.
Merge Games have announced a partnership with Infuse Studio to bring the emotional exploration-puzzle adventure, Spirit of the North, to Nintendo Switch and PC later this year.
Spirit of the North is a single-player, 3rd-person adventure game inspired by the breath-taking and mysterious landscapes of Iceland. The story takes root from various pieces of Nordic folklore.
Breathe in the surroundings to solve various puzzles and speculate the meaning of a lost ancient civilisation. With the help of a companion, shed light on the ruins of the past and overcome obstacles.
Play as an ordinary red fox whose story becomes entwined with the guardian of the Northern Lights, a female spirit fox. As players journey over the mountains and under red-stained skies, they will discover more about their companion and a land left in ruin. Traverse tundra, glaciers, and mountainsides as they follow a foreboding scarlet trail that paints the sky.
- Make your way across stunning landscapes, on an emotionally stirring journey.
- Solve environmental puzzles to change the world around you, using ancient powers bestowed upon you by the guardian of the Northern Lights.
- Follow the mysterious Spirit Fox across a land left in ruin as you discover more about a lost civilization.
- Moving orchestral soundtrack featuring 14 original compositions.
To find out more about the game, visit here: mergegames.com/spirit-of-the-north