TV series, 1980

Henry Rider Haggard’s bestselling story about Horace Holly and Leo Vincy’s journey into Africa to find the legendary white queen Ayesha, or “She-who-must-be-obeyed”. 

Production summary: 

Premiere date:

7 January 1980






Drama series; Action and adventure; Based on book

Number of series:


Number of episodes:


Production company:

Heyns Films


Paul Raleigh

Based on:

Novel by Henry Rider Haggard

Cast and Crew: 

Windy GilmoreAyesha
Giles RidleyLeo Vincy
Kenneth HendelHolly
Len SparrowheadJob
Janet KroneUstane
Victor MelleneyBillali


Episode 1: "The Ethiopian Head"
Original air date: 7 January 1980

Three Englishmen – Horace Holly, Leo Vincy and Job (Holly’s servant) – sets out to find the white queen of the Amahaggar, a tribe in Africa. According to legend, the queen is 2000 years old and incredibly beautiful. Not far from their destination, the Englishmen’s ship is wrecked and they are washed ashore. They continue their journey on foot and make their way inland through perilous forests. One night they are attacked and captured by the Amahaggar.

Episode 2: "The People of the Rocks"
Original air date: 14 January 1980

Billali, an Amahaggar chief, declares that the captured Englishmen should be brought before She, their queen. He tells Holly that he will travel to She to get further instructions. Meanwhile, one of the Amahaggar girls, Ustane, falls in love with Leo and kisses him. He kisses her back - not realising that this constitutes a wedding ceremony.

Episode 3: "Hot Pot"
Original air date: 21 January 1980

Ustane has a premonition. The Englishmen are invited to a feast, but without Billali there to watch over them, they get attacked by cannibals and have to fight for their lives.

Episode 4: "Ayesha"
Original air date: 28 January 1980

On the way to She’s cave, Leo falls ill and Ustane nurses him. She (Ayesha, the white queen) summons Holly to her antechamber and persuades him that she is indeed 2000 years old. Later, Holly comes across Ayesha carrying out ancient rites over the body of Kallikrates, her lover who’s been dead for 1000 years.

Episode 5: "The Tombs"
Original air date: 4 February 1980

Ayesha sentences the cannibals to death and shows Holly around the tombs of her ancestors.

Episode 6: "Kallikrates"
Original air date: 11 February 1980

Ayesha invites the Englishmen to a dance. Ustane tries to persuade Holly and Job to escape with her, but Ayesha thwarts her plan and takes the Englishmen to the place where Kallikrates have lain for 2000 years.

Episode 7: "The Chasm"
Original air date: 18 February 1980

It becomes clear to Leo and Holly that they have been enchanted by the beautiful Ayesha. She gives Leo a knife and dares him to kill her.

Episode 8: "Fire of Life"
Original air date: 25 February 1980

Ayesha tells the story of the Fire of Life: whoever steps through its flames will be young forever. She persuades Leo to walk through the flames with her. She goes first – but instead of gaining her eternal youth, something goes wrong and she ages even further. The shock kills Job on the spot and turns Leo’s hair white, but he and Holly manage to escape and return safely to England.


  • Des Celliers, Hedendaagse Treffer uit 'n Veerpen. Radio en TV Dagboek, 7-13 January 1980, pp.36-37.