‘Summertide’s’ Ty Keogh shares joy of being paid to surf in new role

Ty Keogh auditioned for the lead role in the family TV drama Summertide, a role that went to former East Londoner Frank Rautenbach, but when he was cast as a surfer in the series, he knew the part suited him down to the ground — or the sea.

Keogh, 41, who is the son of the late actor Danny Keogh, plays former pro surfer and board shaper Gavin Field, the brother of Rautenbach’s character Martin Field.

He jokes that he is being paid to surf.

“To be honest, I auditioned for Frank’s character, and two days later they offered me the Gavin role.

“I loved the idea of playing a surfer and shooting close to home, but I was also a little nervous as I was finishing up on four months of shooting Die Byl and my wife and I had planned on heading back to the UK for the rest of the year.

“I gave her the final say on whether I took the job or not and I’m very grateful she said yes.”

Another convenience is that the 52-episode series is being shot right on his doorstep in the Cape’s so-called Deep South, which comprises coastal suburbs such as Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek, Noordhoek and Kommetjie.

“Thankfully I grew up surfing around Cape Town, at spots like Noordhoek and Llandudno, so I’m very familiar with the ocean and surf culture.

“I’m by no means a pro, so we brought in a double for some of the trickier sequences.

“Finding the character wasn’t too much of a stretch.

“I’ve known guys like Gavin my whole life and I hope I’ve been able to make him believable and relatable, even to the real surfers out there.”

In fact, Keogh still has a home in the area which he shares with actor wife Shivaani Ghai, their toddler son Kaian and a dog called Frankie.

“This job is a gift. We shoot on my doorstep so I get to spend more time with my family and it’s a stunning part of the world.

“Not to mention I get to be on the beach half the time and get paid to surf.” 

Keogh met Ghai when they were both shooting American series Dominion in Cape Town in 2014/15.

“She also filmed the BBC series Around the World in 80 Days in Cape Town in 2021.

“All of her work is based out of the US and UK, but she shoots all over the world.

“Her last job, the series Batwoman, had her shooting in Canada for almost nine months.”

The family divide their time between a flat in London and their home near Kommetjie, since most of Ghai’s work is sourced in the UK.

“My wife is English, of Indian origin, and for the past 10 years we’ve split our time between Cape Town and London.

“We bought a house near Kommetjie in 2020 and we rent a tiny flat in London.

“I consider both places home and our plan has always been to chase summer, but it hasn’t always worked out.”

As a child who grew up on film sets — his mother Debbie was a film producer — Keogh fell in love with the medium, but saw himself in a behind-the-scenes role.

“I started working behind the camera in my teens, but acting was never the plan. I found my way into it by accident.”

He had no flights of fancy about the glamour or riches this career presented, especially in the SA context.

“Film is an unpredictable career, so having both parents in the industry meant money was often tight.

“My parents split when I was very young and I grew up with my mother in Cape Town.

“Watching her work extremely hard to make ends meet as a single mother instilled a resilience and strong work ethic in me.”

Danny Keogh, whose theatre, film and television work spanned four decades and who was best known for roles in Binnelanders, Known Gods, Black Sails and Invictus before his death in 2019, was not always encouraging of his son’s acting inclinations.

“My father was initially very hesitant about me acting.

“Even though he was highly regarded and considered successful, I think his struggles as an actor in SA meant he wanted me to pursue something with more stability.

“I remember he came to see me in a stage production when I was in my early twenties.

“I had no idea what I was doing and was obviously not good at all.

“He was not the kind of man who gave unfounded compliments and after the show he didn’t say anything to me.

“I think it was almost 10 years later when he paid me a compliment on one of my performances.

“The best advice he ever gave me was really simple.

“Listen. Listen to the other actors, listen to the director and most importantly, listen to your own instincts.”

With this solid advice under his belt, Keogh has appeared in movies such as Blood Diamond and Goodbye Bafana and series such as 24 Hours to Live and Dominion, but the role that made him a household name is that of Jack van Reenen in the M-Net soapie The Wild, which ran from 2011 to 2013.

The Wild was exactly that — wild. It changed my life in some ways with all the publicity and PR stuff.

“I hadn’t experienced anything like it before and I don’t think I was ready for it. 

“Thankfully I’ve been living in glorious anonymity for years after The Wild ended.

“In the past few weeks I’ve had a few people approach me about Die Byl and Summertide, but I doubt it’ll get as crazy as my time on The Wild.”

Reluctant to name any projects as favourites, Keogh intends to keep acting, and possibly producing — for as long as he can.

Having a lifetime of experience in the industry means he is fully aware of its fickle nature, which is why he is so grateful for the year’s work on 52 episodes of Summertide.

“Most actors I know have additional jobs and revenue streams to keep them alive between jobs.

“It’s a blessing to be able to work as a full-time actor.”

And, while his good looks once lent themselves to modelling, this is not a comfortable place for him.

“I only ever did modelling off the back of acting work — promotional and endorsement stuff.

“I’m very uncomfortable in photos and I really don’t enjoy it.

“I have huge respect for people who do it well, but I am not one of those people.

“I’ve been extremely lucky to work with some truly amazing filmmakers over the years.

“Every project brings its own challenges and rewards. I can’t single out any one job as a favourite.

“Acting is my passion, but I’d also like to create my own projects in the next few years.

“At the end of the day, I love film and TV, and I hope to still be making movies for as long as I’m physically and mentally able to do so.”

  • Summertide is on M-Net at 6pm on Sundays.



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