FORTUNE: It is only recently that the public has come to know long television drama series, with Gemena and Sew-Le-Sew being pioneers. However, these dramas were promoted through suspense. The relatively new Betoch is, however, a comedy series with no real continuations between each series. What variables were considered by the producers before venturing into the first long comedy drama series?
Nibret Gelaw: It was believed, and rightly so, that the audience needs a respite from oft repeated storylines and suspense-based films. A comedic drama based on a family storyline would win the admiration of many, the producers judged. It is educational, but people learn while being entertained and watching characters they are acquainted with and know in advance how they would respond and behave in situations.
Another important consideration is that the sitcom easily attracts teens and kids. It could also be attractive to the youth and adults progressively. Hence, the drama could easily penetrate the audience to the extent of becoming a household item, awaited every Saturday right after dinner.
Q: A curiosity of sorts has arisen among some of the audience, more used to the non-comedy dramas. They are wondering when the Betoch sitcom series could end, because, unlike in the case of the non-comedy, it does not have a conspiracy nor a climax.
The sitcom is situational and comes with a new topic in each episode. That makes it different. Hence, following the international practice, the producers plan to continue with the series indefinitely. This means staying on air for as long as they can. It, then, passes on to the next generation to continue.
As far as I am concerned, I would do anything to make sure that Ekke continues to entertain the audience. It only needs my being here in Ethiopia in good health.
Add to that sustaining the mutual understanding, respect and family-like relationship of the crew members. I have never felt more proud of any crew as I have for this one.
They are so easy to work with. If we, the crew members, sustain this feeling, I see no reason to stop us from continuing with Betoch.
Q: Without exaggeration, Ekke has become the main driving force behind the popularity Betoch is gaining from its audience. The audience expects more entertainment and fun from Ekke than from other characters in the drama. How was it possible for you to come out on top, although joining the group after 11 episodes?
To be honest, credit also goes to the other characters, some of whom, I would say, are even funnier. They made me into what I currently am. I know the bumpy road at the beginning when I started casting. This time, however, I act at ease, thanks to them. They are so superb and conscientious with what they do, all of them.
But finding a suitable actor for the character Ekke proved difficult for the producer – Tilahun Gugsa – who, by the way, spent three years in preparation before starting the sitcom. Tilahun spent a considerable amount of time looking for a suitable guy.
What never ceases to amaze me is that it was only a single casting that persuaded Tilahun that he could finally settle for me. I am lucky in a way because producers and directors could reject you even after a series of tiresome castings.
What helped me easily fit into the Ekke character was my long years of experience in parodying countrymen and my profound love for that kind of character. But, of all the things that helped me, what stands out is God’s help.
I have watched with my own eyes as able and competent actors were cast for the Ekke character. Thus, it would be rather reprehensible for me to say that I stood out because I am more able, which I am not. God decided that Betoch is the gateway to my deeper voyage into the audience.
Q: Does Ekke resemble your personality in any way?
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