A new television series, Professor John Bull, sponsored by telecommunications giant, Globacom, has hit the screens. The series, heralded by the song of high-life maestro and Glo ambassador, Chinedu Okoli, popularly known as Flavour, which is the sound track for the social satire, screened its first episode on Tuesday, with a guest appearance by pop superstar, D Banj.
Widower, retired professor and an erudite academician who relishes using grandiloquent expressions, Johnbull Eriweagwuagwu Macathy Macnwigwe (Kanayo O. Kanayo), lives with his engineer son, undergraduate daughter and star-struck wannabe housemaid in an upscale neighbourhood in Enugu, South East Nigeria where he is; (by virtue of his academic and social exposure, which includes but is not limited to a Phd from a foreign university as well as a long lecturing career) the voice and conscience of the people. His house, by virtue of his pedigree, has become a melting pot where people from different segments of the society often congregate to discuss contemporary issues and drink from Professor John Bull’s fountain of wisdom.
His son, Churchill Ikenga Macnwigwe, an engineering graduate, is interested in pursuing a career in music against his father’s wish. His daughter Elizabeth (Queen Nwokoye) is a year two Psychology undergraduate who is a dyed-in-the-wool but self-assured replica of her father. She is close to her father but generational issues always come up.
Caro (Mercy Johnson) is the semi illiterate house maid of the family and a great challenge to Elizabeth who routinely toils to improve her literacy and social construct.
Apart from the dramatic events in the professor’s house, there are also other major characters whose lives and activities are interwoven with that of the professor and his household. The drama series explore social satire to shed light on contemporary issues affecting Nigerian youths.
Cast and crew excited as production begins
The cast and crew of the series have expressed excitement and pleasure to be involved in the production. The T.V drama series which is set in the South Eastern part of Nigeria will feature the best thespians in Nigeria’s movie industry including Kanayo O. Kanayo who plays the lead role, Prof. John Bull and Mercy Johnson. Others are Yomi Fash-Lanso, Ime Bishop Okon, Queen Nwokoye, Junior Pope, and many others. The visibly excited Nollywood stars were seen on location wrapping up the shoot of the first set of episodes in the series which began airing on Tuesday.
Speaking on his role as the lead actor, Kanayo O. Kanayo said, “It feels so fulfilling playing the lead role Prof. John Bull. I feel honored to be chosen to interpret this role. It’s a huge challenge, in-fact it is one role I see as being too technical for me to play, technical because the high-sounding grammar the character speaks, is that, which you must have to research, and that means you have to keep on rehearsing yourself every day”.
Another multiple-award winning Nollywood star, Mercy Johnson featuring in the series, said, “Prof. John Bull drama series will have a huge impact on the society because it is a social satire which is meant to teach and entertain at the same time and that is what this is just doing, teaching the society as well as entertaining them.
“The drama series, I’m sure, will help to correct the ills in the society. I mean the South Eastern audience will really enjoy it a lot. My role is a comic character called Caro, an illiterate girl who sells oranges but found favor in the professor’s daughter who convinced the dad to bring her in to be part of the family. I feel extremely honored to feature in the series, I feel privileged and special, I feel like Glo ruling my world and I’m honestly grateful for the opportunity because it’s a huge platform for me to step into other places and broaden my horizon”.
Yomi Fash- Lanso who plays the character, Olaniyi, a Southerner who runs an “Nkwobi joint” and is so fixated about making money, said the drama is educative and entertaining and would inform South Easterners in particular and Nigerians in general about the need to co-exist peacefully.
“The drama series has a mixture of characters from different cultures and background in Nigeria. For instance, I play the role, Olaniyi, who is a Southerner; Funky Mallam plays the role, Mallam Doya, a character who is a northerner and there are other characters who are Easterners”.
Fash-Lanso added that he does not feel out of place switching from the Yoruba genre to play a role in the Eastern drama series. “I don’t feel I’m out of my comfort zone featuring in this T. V series. Nollywood is one. As long as you can interpret a character very well, then you’ll fit in anywhere, in any location. Enugu as a location is a very peaceful place, a friendly place, so coming here to shoot is a very good thing for me”.
He lauded Globacom for coming up with the initiative. “Glo for me has always been a pacesetter; the company’s contribution to the entertainment industry in this country is unparalleled. They have always been at the fore-front of entertainment, and now coming up with this idea, I mean… wow…”
Queen Nwokoye who plays the role, Elizabeth, Prof. John Bull’s daughter, expressed similar views. “Prof. John Bull is the first-of-its-kind here in the South-East. Trust me, viewers would always dash home to watch every edition, because I’m sure they wouldn’t want to miss it, even for a minute”.
Funky Mallam who also commented, said “I’m feeling at home here in Enugu. The location is just warm and friendly. My role is Mallam Doya, a Hausa man who sells yam. The concept of the drama series is a nice one. I believe viewers will be glued to their T.V screens”.
The series director, Tchidi Tchikere who also spoke during the interview said that the TV series “is a hilarious satire that will appeal not only to the young at heart but also to everyone that can appreciate drama and its ability to correct social ills. It is high time we had more corporate bodies coming to support the entertainment industry like Globacom is doing. Honestly, I think it is highly commendable that Globacom has moved from just endorsing entertainers as brand ambassadors to sponsoring full productions as Executive Producers”, the ace producer said.
Chikere lamented the dearth of comedy series in the country, and noted: “the last ones we had were years back when the ‘Village Headmaster’ was running. What the cast and crew of ‘Prof. Johnbull’ owe Globacom is excellence and perfection. There is heightened love for Globacom brand among the cast and crew on set. Beyond building affinity, I think Nigerians should realise that Globacom is the only indigenous telecoms company in Nigeria and what this means is that whatever money the company makes, stays here in Nigeria as there is no capital flight”.
Also speaking, a member of the cast, who plays the character Samson in the TV series, Oguns Baba, said that he felt fulfilled being on the star-studded cast of “Prof. Johnbull”.
According to him, “this is the first time I will be on a full length series and I am particularly happy that Globacom is giving me a huge platform like “Prof. Johnbull” to reach out to my fans who have been yearning to see me on TV in a full series”.
During an exclusive viewing event of the series, it ignited a sense of déjà vu in select viewers who thanked Globacom for giving them sublime comedy which they had not savoured in decades, thereby enriching their television experience.