The Coconuts is a South African television sitcom created by Andrew Timm and produced for M-Net Original Productions by ATTV which tells the story of a white family who transform into a black family after violating the burial grounds of an ancient tribe.
The title refers to the urban slang term used to describe black people who act "white" - it literally means black on the outside and white on the inside.
However, the Coconuts, in the case of this sitcom, are not 'white-acting' black people, but a family of white people - the Greenes - who become trapped in black bodies thanks to offending an old man and some ancestors of the little known Zulotho tribe of South Africa.
This happens after the patriarch of the family, Tom Greene, ignores the warnings of a mysterious old man not to park their holiday caravan in the tribe's old burial grounds.
The old man leaves them with the ominous warning that there will be "consequences" for their disrespect.
Then, during the night, the family turn black. It's a radical role reversal for a normal middle class white family who have to return to their home in Benoni and piece their lives together while they find a way to become white again.
The series is about the ultimate coconut family who really are white people on the inside. How they got to be that way is where the series starts, but how they try to get back to their old lives is what it is all about.
The story arc over the 13 episodes deals with how the Greenes have to walk a mile (or more) in the shoes of people they've hitherto known very little about and generally misunderstood.
It's a crash course in culture but the Greenes are desperate to get back to who they were before so they throw themselves, sometimes begrudgingly, sometimes headlong, into trying to understand what it really is to be black.
Fortunately for them they live next door to the Mlambos, a "real" black family, new in the suburbs, upwardly mobile and aspirant to western values.
Up to now the Greenes have ignored the Mlambos but now they see them as their key to understanding black culture, so that they can hopefully pay their dues and become white again.
But are the Mlambos the best role models? As the comedy unfolds the question arises - who are the real coconuts here?
Then there's the family domestic, Patience, who had to accompany the Greenes on their ill-fated holiday (to do the dishes).
By some sort of overspill of the 'spell', Patience - who was minding her own business sleeping on the back seat of the car - turns white overnight. She's still Patience though, their Zulu-speaking helper, but she's now trapped in a white body.
To sum up: the Greenes are white folks, trapped in black bodies (played by black actors), having to experience a taste of 'black life' so they can become white again. It is from this premise that the comedy arises.
The Coconuts was created by Andrew Timm, who was also story editor and head writer. The story development team was comprised of David Kau, Kris Noble, Tumisho Masha and Andrew Timm and scriptwriters included Chris Forrest, Tshepo Mogale, David Kau, Kris Noble, Tumisho Masha, Monique Nortje, Joey Rasdiedn and Andrew Timm.
The Coconuts jingle was composed by Bonsai Shongwe and Andrew Timm, arranged by Johan Laas and performed by Malie Kelly.
Season 1 Cast
(scroll to bottom for available actor bios)
Samson Khumalo ... Percy Mlambo
Meme Ditshego ... Joyce Mlambo
Lebo Modiba ... Khensiwe Mlambo
with Luthuli Dlamini ... Tom Greene / Tombo Mbuli
Philicity Reeken ... Isabel Greene / Amandla Mbuli
Zano Mthembu ... Kyle Greene / TK Mbuli
Dionne Song ... Tamzin Greene/Beyoncé Mbuli (as Dionne Malan)
and Shaeleen Tobin ... Patience Hlatshwayo
Recurring / Guests
Ndoni Khanyile ... Patience
Dewald Reynecke ... Policeman
Sam Phillips ... The Old Man
Greg Melvill-Smith ... Jan
Boshadi Nkomo ... Refilwe
Ilanit Shapiro ... Marriage Counsellor
Marie Pentz ... Mrs de Klerk
Connie Mfuku ... Granny
Craig Urbani ... Psychiatrist 2
David Kibuuka ... Gardener
Alan Committie ... Police Chief
Matthew Lotter ... Philip
Freek Robinson ... TV Presenter
Elizabeth Serunye ... Joyce's Friend 2
Barry Ronge ... Himself
Gareth Tjasink ... Doctor Archer
Bella Mariani ... Mrs Vlok
David Seletisha ... The Gardener
Melane Royal Albert ... Snowy the Poodle (dog)
Tony Lyne ... Dewald
Dudu Yende ... Aggie
Deborah Vieyva ... Melanie
Kelly Tucker ... Debbie
Siyabonga Ntuli ... School Boy
Momelezi Ntshiba ... David
Dorah Mokhethoa ... Gabaza
Pule Kgaratsi ... Tebogo
Ronald Nkuma ... Gardener
Siphesihle Zondi ... IDCC Man 1
Thema Mokoena ... IDCC Man 2
Gugu Mzobe ... IDCC Woman
Mpho Lekalakala ... Manqoba
Timothy Welsch ... Bunny Park Manager
Annabelle Linder ... Mrs Goldberg
Kelly Tucker ... Debbie
Augustine Galela ... Shack Boy
Dean Crooks ... Melanie's Boyfriend
Mikhaela Kohlo ... Girl in Bathroom
John Whiteley ... Psychiatrist 1
Zandile Ngcobo ... Call Centre Sangoma
Chicken ... Chicken
David Sherwood ... Grandpa Greene
Thokozani Nkosi ... Pageant Organiser
Johan van der Walt ... Health Inspector
Reg Pakari ... Patrol Officer 1
Dambuza Dube ... Patrol Officer 2
Chris Forrest ... Stupid Neighbour
John Ellis ... Complaining Neighbour
Dylan Wilson Max ... Escaping Prisoner
Roni Modimola ... Gardener
Ruby Thokozile Mthethwe ... Police Woman
Ruben Maleu ... Affirmative Elf 1
Peter Manama ... Affirmative Elf 2
Moses Nhlapo ... Affirmative Elf 3
Roxanne Lategan ... Ping Mi
Themba Masondo ... Patience's Boyfriend
Siyabonga Ntuli ... School Boy 1
Jonathan Young ... School Boy 2
Sahil Fakir ... School Boy 3
Reginah Dube ... Joyce's Friend 1
Mamokete Dolo ... Stokvel Lady
Jeanette Ngubeni ... Stokvel Lady
Masentle Mofokeng ... Stokvel Lady
Tinny Nunn ... Stokvel Lady
Vuyani Mbuli ... Sasa Wasasa
Sacks Mafubedu ... Fong Kong Grandpa
Grace Bapela ... Fong Kong Nanna
Lindani Ntsibande ... Street Kid
Phumla Mahlangu ... Domestic 1
Gontse Mmutlana ... Domestic 2
Simon Ace Mokolopo ... Joseph
Rebecca Legodi ... Agnes