High Rollers is a South African television drama series-turned-telenovela created by Joshua Rous and Luke Rous and produced by Rous House Productions which is an inter-generational family drama set against the backdrop of the glamorous and backstabbing world of gambling.
The series began life as a 26-episode, one-hour drama but was reinvented as a half-hour telenovela for Season 2. Two more episodes were added per week from Season 3, classifying it as a soapie or daily drama.
Season 1 features a cast led by Brümilda van Rensburg, Justin Strydom, Antony Coleman, Rolanda Marais, Fezile Mpela, Xolile Tshabalala, Carmel Fisher, Carine Rous and Vilje Maritz.
All of those actors returned in Season 2, joined by Maps Maponyane as Thabang, a technological whizz-kid using his talents to rip the casino off; and Thabang's adrenaline-hungry girlfriend Bonnie, played by Khanya Mkangisa.
Also new to the cast in Season 2 is Terence Bridgett who plays Uncle Denton Grootboom, Michelle's (Carmel Fisher) long-lost relative who arrives to help Michelle out of the trouble she's gotten herself into.
Actors to be promoted to starring in Season 2 included Muzi Mthembu, Motlatji Ditodi, Thishiwe Ziqubu, Nunu Khumalo and Jo-anne Reyneke.
The first season is an inter-generational family drama centering round three "brothers": the Machiavellian casino kingpin David (Coleman), his flawed and volatile older brother Paul (Strydom) and David's trusted right-hand man Thato "TT" Mogale (Mpela).
The three are divided by their love for money, family and God. From the boardroom to the bedroom, each man plays the hand dealt to him as they navigate a precarious tightrope between loyalty and betrayal.
Each one-hour episode delves into the world anchored by King's casino and five-star hotel complex, an upmarket establishment in Johannesburg's north-eastern suburbs. It was built from scratch by David King, the youngest King brother, a slick and ruthless businessman who always gets what he wants.
His brother, Paul, is an ex-con who resolves to clean up his life, with the aid of his newfound religious faith. His release from prison on probation sends the King family into a tailspin, exposing raw nerves and unresolved questions around the fateful night when patriarch Charles King was mysteriously murdered.
TT is David's childhood friend and the public face of King's casino, with his charismatic, extroverted nature complementing David's single-minded business savvy.
As a farmworker's child taken into the King household and raised as one of their own - yet always kept at a distance - he sees it as his personal responsibility to pull the family back together.
TT's gorgeous wife, Gugu (Xolile Tshabalala), an ambitious player development executive, gives the casino's high rollers whatever they want, but is unable to give TT the one thing he wants - a child.
Her brother, the flamboyantly gay Kenny Ngubeni (Atandwa Kani in Season 1, Muzi Mthembu in Season 2), runs the local burlesque revue showbar at the casino.
Helena King (Van Rensburg) is the regal and dignified yet shrewd matriarch who manipulates her sons like an expert puppeteer, playing one against the other to suit her purposes. She owns the land on which the casino is located, and is not afraid to play this important chip when the circumstances merit it.
We'll also meet Analine King (Rolanda Marais), David's estranged wife and mother of his three children, teenagers Ben (Vilje Maritz) and Linkie (Danielle Retief) and the bright but sickly Marcus (Kiran Prigge).
Analine, a "functioning alcoholic", was once deeply in love with Paul but wed David in a shotgun marriage after Paul's imprisonment. However, the flame between her and her former lover threatens to reignite when he is released from jail.
Season 2, now half an hour in length and airing Mondays to Wednesdays, kicks off with the three brothers estranged when Paul, finally in control of Kings Casino, fires David and TT and sets his sights on selling the casino to the highest bidder, which he believes will set the King family on the right path again.
David is hellbent on getting back what he believes is rightfully his, but he and Analine's (Rolanda Marais) world is thrown into crises when Marcus (Kiran Prigge) is kidnapped.
As the kidnapping saga unfolds we see David and Analine, who were all but divorced at the end of last season, slowly but surely being drawn closer together again.
High Rollers was created by the Rous House Productions team of producing and directing brothers, Luke and Josh Rous. The series head writer is Henriëtta Gryffenberg and it is produced by Luke Rous, Joshua Rous and Meren Reddy.
Season 2 storyliners are Byron Abrahams, Joshua Rous and Meren Reddy, with dialogue writers Joshua Rous, Martin le Maitre, Kobus Geldenhuys, Lamar Bonhomme, Gillian Breslin, Lwazi Mvusi and Sivan Raphaely.
The title track and music is by Andrew Baird and Michael Bester.