Danie Odendaal, the producer and creator of 7de Laan, got the idea for this popular soapie over 20 years ago. At the time he was still a resident of Melville who loved watching the people of his community over breakfast and a cup of coffee at his favourite coffee shop.
Danie saw and experienced real people; while people have good characteristics they also have their faults. He gave his thoughts run free and began thinking about characters that he could fill his fictitious neighbourhood and meeting place: a stingy businessman who walks around gossiping all day, someone with a heart of gold – who puts out fires and dries up everyone’s tears - to manage his coffee shop, beautiful and sweet waitresses who also have a bit of drama and intrigue in their lives. And then a few eccentric residents like an old world gentleman with a weak heart who mixes up his sayings and idioms while he idolises the Wise Solomon, and old matron with a military streek who runs the old age home with an iron fist. And of course every soapie must have a super bitch or two. And what about two rich, prim and proper snobbish ladies who constantly challenge each other but share a deep dark secret? En there has to be a young lady who always dreams of walking down the isle one day.
Danie approached the then SABC with his idea for a soapie, before there were any other soapies, but they felt they were no ready for such a programme. Then when, 16 years ago, they approached him to see if he would develop a series for them, Danie dusted off the original idea and 7de Laan was born.
Oppiekoffie’s original name was Die Koffikan (The Coffee Pot) and that was also the working title of the new series. It was renamed “Hoe Meer Dae…” (How many days) but there was a feeling that it was too close to Days of Our Lives. Eventually, the title 7de Laan was chosen because it reflects a place where people live and work. And there is probably no town or city in South Africa that doesn’t have a 7de Laan / 7th Avenue. It was also a name that is easy on the tongue and could be expressed beautifully from a graphics point-of-view.
The series made its debut on Tuesday, 4 April 2000 on SABC 2. Initially the series was broadcast twice a week which then became five days a week – Monday to Friday with an omnibus on Sundays. The soapie grew to the second most popular programme in South Africa after Generations. In 2009 7de Laan boasted 1.95 million viewers per episode which translates to more than 70% of its target audience.