The resident bad boy of Isidingo recently bought OnTV! Why? Buhle Mbonambi chatted to actor, Arno Marais
When we were introduced to Benjamin le Roux in 2009, it was no surprise that viewers immediately hated him. He was a bully and got a thrill out of making his friends’ (and even his enemies’) lives miserable.
It’s that ruthlessness that has made Le Roux a savvy businessman. Now alone without his family and few friends in Horizon Deep, he is a lone man on a mission: power. He gained control of Le Roux Enterprises, and recently severed ties with his partners, Rajesh Kumar and Barker Haines in their mining company KME. He now has the biggest and most influential Horizon Deep entity: OnTV!
“Ben has always had an interest with TV. He loves the thrill of it. But then to own a whole TV station beats being on a TV show.”
As to why he thinks Benjamin bought OnTV! Marais says, “He’s power hungry. He always has been. And now with him owning OnTV! which is a very influential media source in Horizon Deep, he could easily use the station to tarnish the reputations of his enemies.” But will he? “Well there’s a chance he will. Benjamin does want the station to work and to be a great investment. Now whether he will use it to destroy his enemies – it’s a possibility. I wouldn’t put it past him. But I think for now he wants to make the station work and be a success. He’s a businessman, vindictive and petty, yes, but he still wants to be respected by his peers in business.”
It’s not surprising that Frank Xavier wasn’t pleased with Benjamin being revealed as his boss. “I don’t blame him,” Marais says, laughing. “He despises Benjamin and he doesn’t think he’s the right person to own the station. To some extent he’s right. Benjamin is very young and he’s a ticking time bomb. However Benjamin doesn’t know a thing about TV and will need to ask Frank for help on how to run the station. So in a way he works his charm on Frank to keep him on his side, but then Frank is a seasoned journalist and can see through the nonsense.”
There’s also a new journalist for OnTV! – Caitlin Moorhouse, played by Carine Rous. She’s smart and is a great investigative journalist, but it could lead her into trouble.
“Benjamin would love for her to be his lapdog, doing all his bidding. But she’s a savvy girl. She’s smart, ruthless and as much as he’d love to, he can’t control her. She’s too inquisitive for her own good and it could get her into trouble.” Will Benjamin be involved? “Ha! I can’t say anything, but it should be an interesting few weeks ahead.”
Benjamin has changed the name. The TV station is now called ON! “It’s new ownership and Benjamin needed to stamp his authority over the station. Plus it gives him so much happiness to see how the Sibekos react to him owning the station.”
One does get a sense of insecurity with Benjamin, which is why he loves being in control. And it’s that hunger for control that makes him such a complex character. “Complex characters are always the best to portray. Besides the ego, Benjamin is a really warped person who wants things done his way. If they are not done his way, he will react and make life difficult for those who deny him power. I enjoy being Benjamin.”
Like Barker and Cherel, Benjamin uses people as pawns to get what he wants. “For Benjamin it’s mainly the relationships he has with the other characters on Isidingo. He’s nice to those he’s fond of, like Nikiwe Sibeko. He actually respects her and genuinely likes her. But if he doesn’t like you, then he’ll always make sure that if you threaten him, he’ll make your life hell.” And love? “I don’t think he ever will. He’s always had flings. Charlie Holmes was more of a friend than a girlfriend. Benjamin uses people.” Should we expect Benjamin to get involved with Caitlin? “No. Well, not yet anyway. Their relationship right now is strictly employer and employee. Maybe the writers have plans for them. Maybe they should.”
Isidingo’s ratings haven’t been great compared to some of the other soapies on free-to-air TV. Boasting some of the best actors in the local TV industry, it’s alarming that The Bold and the Beautiful and Days of our Lives have better ratings than Isidingo. I asked Marais what he thinks should be done. “We need more publicity. People know the show is there, but if they don’t get enticed to watch the show, it’s a problem. I believe we are a quality soapie and we should be getting better ratings. We need to reach out to more people, get them interested in Isidingo. It’s too good to not get the vieweship it deserves.”
Catch Isidingo weekdays on SABC 3 at 7.30pm
Published on the Sunday Tribune on Sunday 20 October 2014