Derek Watts

Honoring A Broadcasting Legend: A Tribute To Derek Watts’s Enduring Legacy

As the news of Derek Watts’s passing on 22 August 2023, reverberated around the world, M-Net, the channel that became his home for decades, has orchestrated a heartfelt tribute to celebrate his exceptional life and lasting influence.


  • Today, 26 August 2023, M-Net will pay homage to the late broadcasting legend by airing a special documentary aptly titled ‘Derek Watts: A Tribute’.
  • For more than thirty years, Derek Watts was a steadfast member of the M-Net family, embodying the channel’s commitment to journalistic integrity and storytelling excellence.
  • Carte Blanche also confirmed that its 27 August 2023 episode, the famous Sunday night slot, will be in honour of Derek.
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In the realm of journalism and broadcasting, certain individuals manage to transcend the limitations of their medium to become icons, leaving an indelible mark on both their profession and the hearts of their audience. Derek Watts, a veteran investigative journalist and the face of the iconic show Carte Blanche, was undeniably one such individual. His journey was one of adventure, of embracing every possibility and promise that life had to offer, all while remaining remarkably devoid of selfishness.

Our superlatives exhausted, what is left to be said about Derek Watts not already reflected in the thousands of tributes that followed news of his death? From politicians to sports stars and fellow hacks, the memories and messages have been overwhelming. Still, I wonder if any of us have done true justice to the legacy of this remarkable man. How do you capture a life lived as Derek lived his; one squeezed of every ounce of adventure and possibility and promise yet one so devoid of selfishness? I have tried – as I’m sure others have, too – but my words are inadequate. No matter which I choose, or how I order them, nothing that comes from my lips brings to life the images of the man in my head. The best I can do – we can do – is to live a life that leaves others in a similar quandary when our time comes.

// Executive Producer of Carte Blanche, John Webb


John’s struggle to encapsulate Derek’s essence in words is a testament to the profound impact he had on those around him. Derek Watts wasn’t merely a broadcaster; he was a force of nature, a man whose presence could not be contained within the confines of a screen.


Derek’s onscreen magnetism wasn’t just the result of chance; it was a fusion of his probing interview style, unmistakable voice, and unwavering dedication to investigative journalism. His mere presence transformed Carte Blanche into a cultural event, making Sunday nights synonymous with his captivating storytelling. Beyond his professional accomplishments, Derek was cherished for his humility, charm, and larger-than-life personality. His ability to bridge the gap between the screen and his viewers’ hearts is what solidified his position as a beloved household name.



M-Net’s decision to broadcast ‘Derek Watts: A Tribute’ on 26 August 2023, at 7 pm, is a recognition of the profound impact he had on South African journalism and broadcasting. Derek’s legacy isn’t confined to his remarkable career; it extends to the values he personified throughout his life—values of kindness, integrity, and an unwavering commitment to the truth. Nomsa Philiso, the MultiChoice CEO of General Entertainment, acknowledges Derek as a cornerstone of M-Net, expressing that celebrating his legacy is not only a gesture of gratitude for his contributions but also a call to embrace the principles he upheld.

One of the kindest, most generous professionals to ever do it. The room disappeared when he spoke to you. Even as a colleague, he made me feel like I was Mother Theresa. Condolences to Belinda and his children, Tyrone and Kirstin.

// Carte Blanche Presenter, Bongani Bingwa (via X)


Carte Blanche, the very platform that Derek Watts elevated to new heights, is also taking part in commemorating his legacy. The episode airing on Sunday, 27 August 2023, is dedicated to his memory. It’s a collective effort by the Carte Blanche family to honour their colleague and friend who fearlessly pursued justice and became a guiding light for those who felt forgotten or downtrodden. Derek’s mantra of ‘umntu ngumntu, ngabantu’ epitomized his profound belief in human connection, his ability to empathize with people from all walks of life, treating each individual with the dignity and respect they deserved.

We treasured him. Loved him. And so did you. Your kind messages of condolences have been deeply felt and appreciated. Many have shared and it is true; when he spoke to you, it felt like the sun was shining just on you. Thank you, and cheers for now.

// Carte Blanche Presenter, Claire Mawisa (via X)


M-Net is opening the doors to the Carte Blanche episode on Sunday, 27 August 2023, to all DStv customers in South Africa. This unique offering signifies a celebration of Derek Watts’ enduring legacy, a tribute that transcends television packages and boundaries. For that evening, M-Net will be accessible to DStv packages across the board, including Compact Plus, Compact Family, Access, and EasyView. It’s a fitting gesture to ensure that every viewer who was touched by Derek’s work can join in commemorating his life.


As the curtain rises on these special broadcasts, the airwaves will be filled not only with images of a most memorable man but with the echoes of his voice, his passion, and his commitment to truth and justice. Derek Watts will forever remain an inspiration to journalists, broadcasters, and viewers alike—a reminder that a life well-lived is one dedicated to making a positive impact on the world.


In celebrating his legacy, we are reminded to carry forward the values he held dear: kindness, integrity, and an unwavering commitment to the truth, all of which continue to guide us as we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of journalism, media and broadcasting.


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