Carte Blanche

When Bill Faure dreamed up the idea of Carte Blanche in 1988, no one knew that twenty one years on it would be an institution on the South African scene. The anchors were an Afrikaans newsreader called Ruda Landman and a sports reporter called Derek Watts. Nothing indicatedthat they would become household names.

The programme won awards, the presenters and producers won awards, and they came to realise that they were part of Africa , taking their viewers to the primate hunters in Cameroon, the world-beating distance runners in the highlands of Kenya, the farm grabs and clashes in Zimbabwe and the gorillas in Rwanda.

Then on to Mount Everest, an atomic aircraft carrier in the gulf, the NASA bid to get humans on to Mars and, on a more personal level, a young man's life in the balance as he faces a liver transplant using "knife-edge" bloodless surgery techniques.

And Carte Blanche connected with ordinary people whose life stories gripped everyone. Serious stuff mixed with light-hearted stories, reflecting the mood and changes in society.

Derek talks about the Carte Blanche phenomenon, the program and the people ...stories from behind and in front of the lens. It's a saga that goes back to the very first days of TV news at SABC when film cameras ruled to the mini "hidden" video cameras that help to uncover corruption and fraud.

It's a journey that has got some sad moments, like when producer Rick Lomba was killed by a tiger in Luanda, but seeks the positive and uplifting with a strong dose of humour thrown in.
Carte Blanche Moments:
MOST MEMORABLE Standing at Mt Everest with Kathy O'Dowd. Wearing just a thin track suit. Cold, stark, beautiful and once in a lifetime feeling of exhilaration.

NERVE-WRACKING Taking a hired car into Bosnia during the war and walking down Sniper's Alley. Then being arrested and sent across the bridge. Never seen destruction on that scale and didn't want to become part of it.

EXCITING Boarding the aircraft carrier George Washington during the Gulf War. Scream of jet fighters taking off, thump as they landed back on deck after missions. Bombs and missiles being wheeled around. The American war machine on the move.

FAVOURITE DESTINATION America where we have done stories as diverse as a street sweeper from Cape Town becoming an opera star to NASA's bid to put man on Mars.

WORST Rick Lomba being killed by a tiger while we were doing a story on the removal of animals from the Luanda Zoo.

MOST EMBARRASSING Following the trail of the primate hunters in Cameroun and, when the driver couldn't get us back to the Hilton Hotel in Yaunde, eating the evidence!

MOST IMPACT Deep diving with Trevor Hutton in Namibia and trying to get down to 15 metres. He'd just broken the world record at 66 m!

OR Tuli Elephants...the country was enraged. Thousands of calls, faxes and e- mails. Newspapers and radio stations around the country. How we broke story with Daphne Shelldrake.

MOST INTERESTING PERSON Deepak Chopra - His ideas seem radical and esoteric but are based on medical and scientific research...right down to the last atom!