home  •    about us  •    courses  •    student work  •    alumni news  •    what's new

CBC Television Series, 1952-1982

by Blaine Allan

Return to
CBC Series Index


Concerning Women

Sun 12:30-1:00 p.m., 23 May-12 Sep 1976

Executive producer Kay Smith collected programs produced in Halifax, Ottawa, and Vancouver in 1975, International Women's Year, and packaged them as a seventeen part series on women in different parts of contemporary society. Programs included Kids' Attitudes, on children's perception of changes in women's status and roles; Alcan - Women in the Labour Force, on the fifty-seven women who worked at Alcan's smelter in Kitimat, B.C.; Women in Sport; The Single Woman; and Women and Mental Health. The series was produced in Vancouver, and the programs were introduced and narrated by Judy Piercey.


Sun 8:30-9:00 p.m., 14 Sep-5 Oct 1952

Sun 3:00-4:00 p.m., 6 Nov-18 Dec 1960

Sun 3:00-4:00 p.m., 20 May-24 Jun 1962

Mon 10:00-11:00 p.m., 2 Jul-17 Sep 1965

The CBC has, understandably, produced a number of musical programs and series simply titled Concert. The first month of CBC television included a weekly, half-hour concert, produced in Toronto by Franz Kraemer and broadcast on Sunday evenings.

In autumn 1960, the network presented a series of eight programs, titled Concert, that highlighted compositions and performances by Canadians. Host Henri Bergeron introduced guest conductors and soloists in a one-hour broadcast each Sunday afternoon. Each program included at least one composition by a Canadian. The following conductors and musicians appeared on the show: Roland Leduc and violinist Arthur Garami; Remus Izincoca and clarinetist Rafael Masella; Jacques Beaudry and tenor Louis Quilicot; Otto Werner-Mueller and cellist Walter Joachim; Alexander Brott and cellist Zara Nelsova; Wilfred Pelletier and soprano Irene Salemka; charles Houdret and pianist Monik Grenier; and Roland Leduc again, with tenor Leopold Simoneau.

A 1962 Concert program, also one hour on Sunday afternoons, featured vocalists, instrumentalists, and dancers in a summer series of classical music.

The Concert Hour

Thu 8:30-9:30 p.m., 6 May-24 Jun 1954

Thu 10:00-11:00 p.m., 29 Sep 1955-22 Mar 1956

Thu 10:00-11:00 p.m., 4 Oct 1956-21 Mar 1957

Tue 10:00-11:00 p.m., 24 Sep 1957-11 Mar 1958

The Concert Hour, a classical music program, was produced in Montreal and transmitted on both English and French stations, and included commentary in both languages. CBFT-TV had presented L'Heure du concert every other week, alternating with Teletheatre, but the musical show changed to a weekly broadcast when the network picked it up in spring of 1954. Performers included Glenn Gould, Robert Savoie, Marielle Pelletier, Herta Glaz, Louis Quilico, and Rosalyn Tureck.

The Concert Hour included more than instrumental and vocal performances of classical works. It also featured contemporary selections, and the show regularly included excerpts from opera and ballet. Conductors included Wilfred Pelletier, Desire Dufaw, Boyd Neel, Roland Leduc, Paul Scherman, Jean Deslauriers, and Sylvio Lacharite. The program also featured the work of such choreographers as Ludmilla Chiriaeff, Heino Heiden, Francoise Sullivan, Marc Beaudet, Brian Macdonald, Jury Gotschalks, and David Adams.

The studio director for the program was Irving Gutman, and the producer was Pierre Morin. Starting in the autumn 1954 season, Pierre Mercure and Noel Gauvin produced The Concert Hour on alternate weeks.


Wed 9:30-10:00 p.m., 18 Feb-4Aug 1976

In a series of seven half-hour programs, Victor Feldbrill, the conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, introduced a variety of musical selections. In the first show of the series, produced by John Coulson, the Chamber Players of Toronto, with musical director Victor Martin and cellist Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi played a concerto by Vivaldi. To provide an idea of the variety in the series, in a later segment, produced by Mickael Sinelnikoff, fiddler Jean Carignan played Fantasy for Fiddle and Strings, a concerto composed for Carignan by Donald Patrinquin. The Chamber Players of Toronto returned in an instalment devoted to Bach and Marcello. Other performers in the series included Stephen Staryk, Walter Joachim, and conductor Jacques Beaudry.

Conquest Of Space

Sun 10:00-11:00 p.m., 27 Jul-31 Aug 1969

Host Percy Saltzman and announcer Bill Kehoe presented this five part program on space and space travel. In segments titled Sounds of Silence, The Other Side of the Sky, The High Frontier, A Star to Steer Her By, and Childhood's End, Saltzman examined the ideas of outer space from ancient times up to the Apollo space program, which had just put a man on the moon. The series concentrated on the period that started in 1957 with the Soviet Union's Sputnik launch, and examined space exploration through interviews with aerospace engineers and scientists. Film editor Robert Murphy assembled film footage collected from the U.S.A., the Soviet Union, the U.K., and France. The series was written by Noel Moore and produced in Ottawa by Rod Holmes.

Converging Lines

Sun 10:00-11:00 p.m., 20 Mar 1977

Mon 10:00-11:00 p.m., 21 Mar 1977

In Converging Lines, the CBC presented two, one hour documentaries. A People, A Place, A Book, produced by Louise Lore, concerned Judaism, and The Surrender, produced by Herb Krosney, dealt with Islam. The two programs informed Canadians about aspects of the two faiths through visits with believers in different locations in the world.


Sun 2:00-2:30 p.m., 16 Feb-6 Apr 1975

The CBC aired six of the seven black-and-white films that the National Film Board produced about the Steinberg corporation to provide a view of management operations in a major Canadian company. The six programs, produced, written, and directed by Arthur Hammond, each ran a half-hour. (The seventh, called After Mr. Sam, was also directed by Hammond and runs nearly eighty minutes.) Growth, the first program, traced the development of the family business and the current possibilities for expansion. The second program, Real Estate, considered Steinberg's position as a landowner in Quebec and as an influence on how and where people live. International Operations, the third program, dealt with the effects of Steinberg's first Paris store on the shopping habits of the French. The Market, the fourth film, outlines corporate strategy in relation to suppliers, competitors, and customers. The fifth program, Motivation, concerned the corporation's relations to its employees and their work. The final show in the series, Bilingualism, involved Steinberg's relations to Quebec society. Hammond had the offscreen and onscreen participation of company president and founder Sam Steinberg for the production. The films were edited by Pierre Lasry, and the cinematographer was Jean-Pierre Lachapelle. George Pearson was the series' executive producer.


Sun 9:00-10:00 p.m., 5 Oct-2 Nov 1969

Sun 9:00-10:00 p.m., 22 Nov 1970-3 Jan 1971

Executive producer Ronald Weyman attempted to follow-up the success of Wojeck with another series about a doctor. Where Steve Wojeck had been a coroner, and the dramatic roots of his stories were in crime investigations, Greg Corwin was a psychiatrist who had given up his specialty to work in an inner city general practice, and his stories were more allied to the genre of melodrama.

The five week series opened with a two part story, directed by Peter Carter, called Does Anybody Here Know Denny? It introduced Corwin, played by John Horton, a Canadian who had worked in England for seven years and more recently at the Shaw Festival; "Doc" James, the older doctor Corwin assisted, played by actor and writer Alan King; and Mac, the office nurse played by Ruth Springford. Denny, a wealthy and spoiled, but emotionally unstable young woman played by Margot Kidder, had been Corwin's patient. They meet again at her father's funeral, and they fall in love. Denny, however, is blackmailed, and Corwin ultimately fails her.

Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver, directed by Daryl Duke, featured Eileen Heckart and Nehemiah Persoff as Hannah and Sol Kestenberg, a Jewish couple in their fifties who have resigned themselves to living childless when the woman discovers that she is pregnant. Corwin's laboratory tests uncover a complication in the pregnancy that threatens Hannah's life.

Ronald Weyman directed Boxful of Promises, a story of Pix, a newshawk played by Eric Christmas whose apparent poverty conceals actual wealth. Corwin becomes involved when one of his patients steals Pix's fortune and Pix suffers a heart attack.

What Do You See When You Turn Out the Lights? featured Jane Mallett, Ron Hartmann, and Deborah Turnbull.

Corwin drew on character actors from Canada and the U.S.A. for its supporting cast. A large budget series, it was commended for its production values and for the visual quality in director of photography Grahame Woods's images, but the show was roundly criticized for the banality of its stories and the inadequacy of the dialogue and acting. The series was created and written by Sandy Stern, who had written for Festival and Wojeck, and who had trained as a medical doctor himself, which for the CBC vouched for the program's authenticity.


Sun 2:30-3:00 p.m., 12 Feb-16 Apr 1967

Sun 2:00-2:30 p.m., 16 Apr-18 Jun 1967

A nineteen week series of half-hour broadcasts produced in Montreal, Counterpoint attempted to alleviate tensions between Quebec and English Canada by stressing what CBC's publicity called "the surging spirit of interracial co-operation." Armande Saint-Jean, columnist for Sept Jours, and Arthur Garmaise, formerly a radio actor and producer and more recently an executive in a Quebec construction firm, were hosts for the program. Producer David Bloomberg and writer Edgar Sarton concentrated the series on elements and makers of French-Canadian culture, not on the major figures of Quebec and federal politics. the show covered such items as jazz in Quebec; Anglophone patrons of a French-style bistro and Francophone who frequented a British-style pub; and a women's hockey team. The show profiled such figuress as Jean Ostiguy, stock broker and patron of the arts, Peter White, newspaper publisher and assistant to Quebec Premier Daniel Johnson, and federal Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources Jean- Luc Pepin. The series also presented a program on Quebec cinema, with interviews with directors Donald Brittain, Gilles Carle, Jean-Pierre Lefebvre, and Larry Kent.

Country Calendar

Country Calendar, the half-hour program in which the CBC provided regular coverage of agriculture, started on an interconnected network in Eastern Canada, with Norm Garriock's commentary on farm matters in the first half of the show and Earl Cox on gardening in the last fifteen minutes. Garriock provided news on the business of agriculture, weather reports, and farm news on films from the CBC News Service. Cox set up in the studio to talk about and demonstrate tips for the garden according to the time of year. The show was produced by Norman Caton, under the supervision of Franz Kraemer for television production and of Murray Creed for the CBC's Farms Department. (Creed, who had been the farms and fisheries commentator for the CBC in the Maritimes, had moved to Toronto to develop the program.)

The CBC subsequently introduced editions of Country Calendar for other regions of the country and programs were exchanged among broadcast centres. Editions appeared in Winnipeg and Vancouver later in the first season, and in the Maritimes in September 1955.

Producers of Country Calendar included Dick Knowles (l959-6l), Eric McLeery (l96l-69), and Ted Regan, under the supervision of executive producer Doug Lower (l969-7l). The show's hosts and interviewers included Johnny Moles (l958-60), Jim Ross (l960-6l), John Foster (l96l-67), and Bob Carbert (l964-67).

Country Canada

Country Calendar became Country Canada, the CBC's national magazine of agricultural news and information. The program continued to cover farm news, but also aimed to be pertinent to urban viewers. It continued to exchange information and programming with other nations and to cover developments in Canada through a network of regional contributors, including Bob Hutt from Halifax, Hal Andrews and David Quinton from St. John's, and Garnett Anthony from Edmonton.

Doug Lower continued to act as executive producer from 197l to 1977, and he was followed by Neil Andrews (l977-8l), Lower again (l98l-82), and Robert Petch (l982- ). The program's producers were Ted Regan (l97l-72), Tom Molyneaux (l972-76), Bill Smith (l976-77), Michael Barnes (l976-78), Les Harris (l976-78), Ray Burley (l978-8l), Robert Petch (l980-82), Robert Doan (l980-82), Lynn Sleigh (l980-82), David Tucker (l980-8l), David Quinton (l980-8l), and Jane DuBroy (l98l-83).

The program's hosts and commeentators were Ron Neily (l97l-74), Laurie Jennings (l97l-74), Glen Powell (l974-75), John O'Leary (l974-75), and Sandy Cushon (l975-83)

Country Club

Fri 9:30-10:00 p.m., 27 Jun-24 Sep 1958

Produced by Drew Crossan and starring singers Don Francks and Patti Lewis, with Bert Niosi and his band, this musical variety show, set in a country club ballroom, was a summer replacement.

Country Hoedown

Sat 9:00-9:30 p.m., 30 Jun-29 Sep 1956

Fri 9:30-10:00 p.m., 28 Sep 1956-4 Jul 1958

Fri 9:30-10:00 p.m., 3 Oct 1958-31 Jul 1959

FRi 8:00-8:30 p.m., 2 Oct 1959-25 Jun 1965

Country Hoedown made its premiere on Saturday evenings as a summer replacement for On Camera. It moved to Friday for a regular slot in the autumn broadcast schedule, and there it stayed for nine years. It followed the lead of Holiday Ranch, and was one of the most popular musical variety shows the CBC ever produced.

This showcase for Canada's country music talent originally starred popular fiddler King Ganam and his Sons of the West, along with several of the most popular winners in the CBC's Pick the Stars competition: the Hames Sisters (Norma, Jean, and Marjorie), Lorraine Foreman, and Tommy Hunter (who was also a member of Ganam's band). From the start, Gordie Tapp was the show's host, and also appeared as the debonair character, Gaylord, or, more often, with blacked-out teeth and dressed in bib overalls, plaid shirt, and straw hat, as hayseed Cousin Clem.

Regulars in the troupe also included Tommy Common, Johnny Davidson, fiddler Al Cherney, Mary Frances (l960), Pat Hervey (l962-63), Wally Traugot, the show's square dangcing chorus, called the Singing Swinging Eight (which at one point counted Gordon Lightfoot among its members), and Lloyd Cooper and the Country Hoedown orchestra. The producer was Dave Thomas.

By the time Country Hoedown ended, Gordie Tapp was well established as a star in Canadian country music culture, and used that fame and his connections with fellow Canadian expatriates in the U.S.A., program creators and producers Frank Peppiatt and John Aylesworth, to gain a place in Hee Haw (where Cousin Clem continues to appear). Country Hoedown also made Tommy Hunter, "Canada's Country Gentleman," a television star, and The Tommy Hunter Show immediately succeeded the program that brought him fame, and became the network's principal country music series.

Photo (courtesy of CBC) shows Gordie Tapp, Tommy Common (left), the Haymes Sisters, Lorraine Foreman, Tommy Hunter (rear).

Country Joy

Mon-Fri 12:30-1:00 p.m., 19 Nov 1979-4 Jan 1980

A daily drama, Country Joy concerned the lives of the citizens of Coronet, Alberta, a fictional twon l50 miles from Edmonton. Howard Dallin played Dick Brugencate, local real estate agent and the mayor of Coronet, who as the series opened was pressing for the construction of a modern medical facility in town. One of the reasons for his insistence was the recent death of his wife in an automobile accident, and Dick's belief that her life might have been saved in an up-to-date medical centre. On a committee, he met Joy Burnham, a health services executive played by Judith Maby, and they fall in love and marry. Joy, however, faced the disapproval of dick's family, which included his seventeen year old daughter Pam, played by Debra AuCoin, his fifteen year old son Bob, played by Jim Calderbank, and his mother Helen, played by Vernis McQuaig. Other regular actors included Jack Wyntars and Pamela Boyd. Mark Schoenburg produced Country Joy in Edmonton.

Country Roads

Fri 9:00-10:00 p.m., 10 Aug-14 Sep 1973

A summer replacement for The Tommy Hunter Show, Country Roads starred singer Ronnie Prophet in a one hour, weekly showcase for young, Canadian country music talent. The show included comedy sketches and characters, such as Granny Slanders, played by comedian Gwen Neighbours, and her rural newspaper, and Harold the Frog and Yackie Duck, two puppets made by John and Alison Vandergun, with voices by Prophet. Programs also included regular musical slots, such as "It's Cryin' Time Again," with country music's hurtin' songs, "The Grease Spot," which featured rockabilly music, and the "New Song Spot." Other musical regulars included The Peaches, the OK Chorale, thirteen year old Joey Tardiff, and Dave Woods and the Country Roads Brass. Bill Lynn produced the show in Toronto.

Country Sunshine With Myrna Lorrie

Thu 9:30-10:00 p.m., 25 Jul-8 Aug 1974

After a run of several seasons in the post-hockey broadcast Countrytime, Myrna Lorrie starred in this summer series, which featured music by Eric Robertson in a weekly half-hour of country music, produced by Cy True at CBC Halifax.


Countrytime, like Country Calendar, was a half-hour program of agricultural information. It was produced in Halifax, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver and presented fifteen minutes of national news on recent developments in agricuture. The following fifteen minutes were taken up with local gardening news and tips by Earl Cox for the Ontario and Quebec area and by Gordon Warren for the Maritimes and Newfoundland. Hosts for the show were John Ross (l960-62), John Foster (l962-63), and George Atkins (l963-66). Countrytime was produced by Renee Elmer and John Foster.


Sat 10:30-11:00 p.m., 28 Feb-11 Jul 1970

Sat 10:30-11:00 p.m., 3 Oct 1970-10 Apr 1971

Sat 10:30-11:00 p.m., 7 Aug-2 Oct 1971 (R)

Sat 10:30-11:00 p.m., 9 Oct 1971-24 Jun 1972

Sat 10:30-11:00 p.m., 30 Sep 1972-28 Jul 1973

Thu 9:30-10:00 p.m., 4 Oct 1973-3 Jan 1974

Wed 10:30-11:00 p.m., 30 Jan-3 Apr 1974

In the early 1970s, the CBC followed the Saturday night hockey broadcasts with this country music concert series, taped in the auditorium of Dartmouth High School in Nova Scotia, and starting 1972 in the larger auditorium of the Prince Arthur High School, also in Dartmouth. Myrna Lorrie had been a star of country music in Canada since she was a chile, and Countrytime was principally her show. She shared the stage with musical director Vic Mullen and the supporting band, the Hickorys (Ron Naugle, Ken Meisner, and Stan Taylor), hosts Don Tremaine (l970-73) and Mike Graham (l973-74), and guests such as Wilf Carter Blake Emmons, the Mercy Brothers, the Allan Sisters, and Lynn Jones. Countrytime was produced by Cy True of CBC Halifax.

Course Of Knowledge

See Live And Learn.

Court Of Opinions

Wed 9:30-10:00 p.m., 10 Sep 1952

Wed 9:30-10:00 p.m., 1 Oct-18 Oct 1952

Wed 8:30-9:00 p.m., 22 Oct-19 Oct 1952

Wed 9:30-10:00 p.m., 26 Nov 1952

Drew Crossan produced this television adaptation of a CBC radio panel show. It featured host Neil Leroy and regular panelists Lister Sinclair and Kate Aitken, and two guest panelists each week.

Cowboys' Corner

Mon/Wed/Fri 5:00-6:00 p.m., 29 Dec 1952-5 Oct 1953

Mon/Wed/Fri 5:30-6:00 p.m., 12 Oct-16 Oct 1953

Tue/Thu 5:30-6:30 p.m., 4 Nov-31 Dec 1953

Producers Joanne Hughes and Peggy Nairn included a half-hour program of western films in their afternoon programming for children in the first year of CBC television.

Creative Persons

Wed 9:00-9:30 p.m., 3 Jul-25 Sep 1968

The production of Creative Persons, a series of twelve, half-hour film portraits, was supported cooperatively by the CBC, the BBC, National Educational Television in the U.S.A., and Bayerischer Rundfunk in West Germany. Allan King and Roger Graef were executive producers of the series for Allan King Associates. The filmmakers employed direct cinema techniques to examine a number of people who make contemporary art of different types. The subjects, in programs that were individually titled, "Who Is. . . ?" with the name of the principal filling the blank, included novelist James Jones, in a film directed by King; composer Pierre Boulez, Maurice Bejart, founder of the Ballet of the 20th Century, sculptor Jacques Lipschitz, architect Walter Gropius, and artist Rufino Tamayo, in segments directed by Graef; designer Sean Kenny, Oscar Niemeyer, the designer of Brasilia, and playwright Max Frisch, in films directed by William Brayne; painter Richard Smith, directed by Denis Postle; musician Sonny Rollins, in a profile directed by Dick Fontaine; artist Victor Vasarely; and writer Norman Mailer.

Crisis of Middle Age (Is There Life After Youth?)

A series of four half-hour programs with Dr. David Levinson, produced by Mark Blandford.

Cross Canada

Thu 4:30-5:00 p.m., 10 Apr-26 Jun 1969

The CBC's Schools and Youth Programming department presented this weekly half-hour of films, most produced by the National Film Board, as after- school viewing on the activities of Canadians. The titles included: Aircraft in Forest Fire Control; A Question of Identity; Taming the Rocky Mountain Trench; Angotee: Story of an Eskimo Boy; The Sea Got In Your Blood; Rogers Pass; North Pacific; Twenty Million People; Three Farmers; The Voyageurs; Victory Over the Nahanni; and The Annanacks.

Cross Canada Curling

Sat 2:00-4:00 p.m., 9 Dec 1961-20 Jan 1962

Sat 2:00-3:00 p.m., 5 Jan-16 Mar 1963

Sat 3:00-4:00 p.m., 21 Dec 1963-7 Mar 1964

Sat 2:00-3:00 p.m., 11 Dec 1965-

Bob McLaughlin produced this annual series of curling coverage, with announcer Don Wittman, from the Rossmore Curling Club in Winnipeg.

Cross Canada Hit Parade

The CBC adapted the formula of the U.S. musical variety series, Your Hit Parade, to produce its own weekly half-hour countdown of popular music. Austin Willis was the show's host. Each week, the regulars Wally Koster, Joyce Hahn, and Phyllis Marshall, Adam Timoon (l956-57), the vocal group the MCs (or the Emcees: Harry Harding, Ken Reaney, Iver MacIver, and Ken McRae), and an orchestra led by clarinetist Bert Niosi would perform a selection of the top musical hits in the country, determined in cooperation with radio and television stations across the country. The show also featured a guest star each week, and the producers also brought in a guest disk jockey to talk about the top ten and predict the coming hits. Although the program's run was well within the era of rock and roll, Cross Canada Hit Parade consisted mostly of production numbers of show tunes and light popular music. The productions in this popular series could become elaborate. The first show of the 1956 season was played on a set that the producers boasted was the largest used in Canada to date. It included Conklin's Children's Carnival, with three elephants and a roller coaster.

Cross Canada Hit Parade was produced by Stan Harris, with Peter MacFarlane for the 1955 season, then with Drew Crossan, and written by Saul Ilson and John Aylesworth. Bert Niosi was the musical director, and Alan and Blanche Lund choreographed the show.


Tue 10:00-10:30 p.m., 3 Apr-24 Apr 1955

Crossfire, a companion to Citizens' Forum, was a series of four discussion broadcasts, arranged by Art Stinson and produced by Cliff Solway. The programs alternated between two different formats. In one, an assembled panel of experts opened itself to questions on different subjects by a studio audience. In the other, a form of debate, each side of a question had two supporters, one a "witness," the other a "cross-examiner." After the cases for both sides were presented, a chairman provided a summary and invited the audience to judge the merits of the arguments and decide the winner.


Sun 4:00-4:30 p.m., 2 Jan-26 Jun 1977

In segments produced in Toronto, Halifax, St. John's, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Windsor, Edmonton, and Vancouver, young people demonstrated and talked about their interests. Dick Donovan produced this half-hour broadcast.


Mon-Fri 3:55-4:00 p.m., 2 Jan-15 Jun 1962

Cross-Section was a five-minute film of non-topical news, broadcast every weekday.

Crossword Quiz

Fri 9:00-9:30 p.m., 26 Dec 1952-24 Apr 1953

Tue 8:00-8:30 p.m., 12 May-30 Jun 1953

A literate quiz program in which moderator Kim McIlroy provided crossword puzzle-style clues to James Bannerman, Ralph Allen, editor of Maclean's magazine, and two guest panelists. Morley Callaghan replaced McIlroy as moderator starting 20 March 1953.


In addition to its regular coverage of Canadian and international curling, the CBC sponsored an annual bonspiel. The network broadcast the matches, in edited form, in one hour slots on Saturday afternoons in the winter. From 1968 to l972, the series was called CBC Championship Curling, and from 1973 to 1979 it gained the title CBC Curling Classic. The hosts and commentators in this sports program included Alex Trebek (l966-70), Ken Watson (l966), Doug Maxwell (l968-78), Don Chevrier (l969-79), Don Duguid (l97l-79), and Don Wittman (l978-79). In 1968, comedian and sports enthusiast Johnny Wayne joined the team as a commentator. The producers of the program for CBC Sports were Gordon Craig (l966-68), Dino Marcus (l968- 69), Rick Rice (l969-70), Leo Herbert (l970-77), and Laurence Kimber (l977- 79).

Custard Pie

Tue 7:30-8:00 p.m., 20 Sep-27 Dec 1977

The CBC hoped that Perry Rosemond could follow the success of King of Kensington with another situation comedy. Rosemond drew on his own past when his uncle managed a Winnipeg burlesque house that still featured vaudeville acts as well as strippers, and when he was a student at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in the 1950s and lived in a Toronto fraternity house, where people like Larry Zolf, Don Owen, and Al Waxman dropped in, and shared a rented room with Gordon Pinsent and Allan Blye. He prepared a script about a troupe of young performers who shared a house and did zany, knockabout comedy. He had cast the project with three members of Toronto's Second City company, Andrea Martin, Dave Thomas, and Catherine O'Hara, and Toronto stage actor Saul Rubinek, and in October 1976 he produced a pilot called The Rimshots, directed by George Bloomfield. In the pilot, the group's gig at the O'Keefe Centre is cancelled and they wind up playing for a Hungarian club. When they discover that the audience does not understand a word of English, they adapt to the situation and play pantomime. When the CBC agreed to go ahead with the series, conditions for the performers had changed. Martin, Thomas, and O'Hara were already committed to Global TV's Second City series, which would have caused scheduling conflicts. The actors also wanted the CBC to retain Bloomfield as director and guarantees of their control over scripts and producers should Rosemond leave the project. In addition, the performers wanted a ten day shooting schedule for each episode, which was to be produced, like the pilot, on film. The CBC and the performers had no contractual ties, and parted ways when the network refused their demands. (See Martin Knelman, "The Casting of Custard Pie," The Canadian [24 Septermber 1977], pp. l0-l3.)

Rosemond had to retitle the project, because the CBC thought "rimshots" too suggestive, and recast it. Three of the members of Custard Pie, as the group and the show were renamed, came from the Toronto and southern Ontario theatre scene. Kate Lynch played Sheila Ann Murphy, who aspired to be a serious actress, not just a comic player and clown. Nancy Dolman was Maggie Tucker, a singer who worked part-time at a restaurant/gasoline station called Aldo's. (Les Carlson played Aldo Ludwit.) Derek McGrath played Harvey Douglas, the dough-faced, naive member of the group who owned the van that was their only means of transportation. The show also featured in supporting roles Vivian Reis as Vicie DeMarco, the group's landlady. Rosemond and the CBC publicity department were lucky, though, that he was able to cast Peter Kastner as Leo Strauss, a performer and the group's manager. Kastner remained well-known to Canadian audiences as the callow youth in Don Owen's feature film, Nobody Waved Good-bye, as the co- star of the CBC series Time Of Your Life, and as the star Francis Ford Coppola's thesis film, You're A Big Boy Now, and of the lamentable U.S. situation comedy, The Ugliest Girl in Town. Kastner had worked in the U.S., but remained out of sight in lead roles for some years. So, the CBC could brag that Custard Pie represented the return of Peter Kastner.

Unfortunately, he wasn't enough. The production never really recovered from the setbacks involved in the transition from pilot to series. Rehearsals started in July 1977, and the series was produced on videotape at the breakneck rate of two half-hour shows per week. The frenetic production pace was reflected in the loud and broad performances, which made the characters more abrasive than likeable. The series ran for the thirteen episodes that had originally been ordered and was not renewed.

Return to CBC Series Index

Queen's University