Jaillan Yehia

How To Negotiate Cape Town’s Nightlife By The Producer Of Kidnap & Ransom

Written by Jaillan Yehia

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Kidnap and Ransom, filmed in Cape Town

Just back from three months in Cape Town where she filmed the current high-octane ITV thriller Kidnap and Ransom, Executive Producer Rachel Gesua picks her favourite places to take on the legendary Cape Town nightlife, and shows how to become a bona fide child of the Mother City.

At one point during the on-location filming of ITV drama Kidnap and Ransom, which sees Trevor Eve return as hostage negotiator Dominic King, there was a completely different show simultaneously being filmed on the same street: “We would find their actors wandering onto our set and eating at our catering truck by mistake,” recounts Rachel Gesua, the show’s Executive Producer. “That tells you just how popular Cape Town is for TV and film production.”

On set in Cape Town

Indeed after a positive experience filming the initial Cape Town-set 2011 series of Kidnap on location in South Africa, the production company elected to return to the city to make the current series which tells the story of a hijacked tourist bus in Kashmir, India.

A dusty Kashmir is recreated in Cape Town

The team were excited to return to Cape Town, as they trusted the city to help them deliver a great production – and they understandably couldn’t wait to experience more of Africa’s most popular metropolis.

“Cape Town makes a great film location,” explains Rachel, “it’s easy to get around – you can reach most locations within about 20 minutes – and yet the scope of the landscape is vast, from urban settings to pristine beaches, mountains and bush, in fact South Africa managed to stand-in for an amazing 57 locations in the film Lord of War – so it’s easy to see why the Cape Town Film Commission calls it ‘The World in One City’!

Another stunning Cape Town location

Another stunning Cape Town location

“South African crews are committed, hard-working and innovative, and because so many features and commercials are shot in the city, they’re very experienced which makes life easier, but we all worked long hours and there wasn’t much room for downtime.”

Discussing a scene with colleagues

The intensive filming schedule allowed only the occasional snatched day off  – which was usually spent shopping for supplies – meaning that Rachel found her experience of the city was often centred around its nightlife, making her an expert on after hours Cape Town…

Cape Town Nightlife: It Takes No Prisoners 

The drinks –

Cape Town’s Long Street: Popular with film crews, both on and off duty

Tjing Tjing – A rooftop bar with a relaxed crowd and indie and electronica music

The Waiting Room – above Royale Eatery with a big rooftop, great views of Cape Town, and a chill out area, plus football table

Julep – tiny ‘secret’ bar hidden away on one of the small streets off Long Street. Lovely cocktails, comfy couches, and some live music

The Grand  –  Camps Bay for food, Granger Bay for drinks.The latter is like a big warehouse right on the beach. It’s just a shame I’ve never been there when it’s warm enough to sit outside!

Cafe Caprice in Camps Bay is where all the glamorous people go, a bit more of a scene than anything else, but quite legendary

The Shack – a Cape Town institution; everyone knows The Shack! This place is a down and dirty pool bar with great indie music. It’s hard to beat for a good night out. 

Bars on Long Street with balconies like Neighbourhood and Fiction are great for atmosphere. 


The food –

The Royale Eatery – for ‘burgers that will make your soul sing’

Royale Eatery – burgers, burgers, burgers, including veggie ones. Cute decor, always buzzing and with hats and artwork on the walls. 

Manna Epicure – really lovely restaurant with a beautiful all-white interior, and tasty food including very good cakes. It would be really nice to sit on their balcony and while away an afternoon.

Cafe Paradiso – relaxed charming restaurant in an old house, also on Kloof Street (well it is called ‘the dining mile’!) with a lovely outside space to eat in.

Wakame – Great sushi and Asian cuisine on two-floors overlooking the beach at Mouille Point, a little tricky to find, but worth it.

95 Keerom – A lovely, elegant Italian restaurant, serving really good food, with an attentive chef who’ll talk you through the menu 

Beluga – very lively, fun, great cocktails. 

Fork – tapas bar with little booths to sit in and small balcony overlooking Long Street. Intimate and cosy.

And the shopping –

Cape Town’s Waterfront is great for shopping

Woolworths – This is South Africa’s Marks and Spencer and is ideal for day to day provisions

Haas Collective  – is both a cafe and a shop in Bo-Kaap – has good coffee and lots of artwork and homeware to buy

Long St, Kloof Street, the V & A Waterfront and Cape Quarter are best for shopping, and in terms of brands I discovered  Trenery and Country Road which are actually Australian labels and available at the Waterfront.

There’s also Nap which is in De Waterkant and Hout Bay and has cute bits and bobs for the house and a few choice pieces of clothing.

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