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CBC Television Series, 1952-1982

by Blaine Allan

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CBC Series Index


Dancing Storybook

Wed 5:00-5:30 p.m., 1 Apr-24 Jun 1959

Members of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet company had appeared in the series, Toes In Tempo, and returned to the air in spring 1959 with another broadcast for children, Dancing Storybook. Marian Waldman wrote the fairy tale-style stories that revolved around two young people who searched for a patch from a magical coat left to them by their father. The series featured choreography by Briand MacDonald, who had previously designed dance for television in Montreal. The show's musical director was Eric Wild, also the musical director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Stan Langtry designed the sets, and Neil Harris produced the half-hour broadcast in the CBC's Winnipeg studios.

Danger: Man At Work

A series of programs on conservation, by producer Roman Bittmann, executive producer James Murray, and writer/narrator/host John Livingston.

A Date With Frosia

Sun 7:30-8:00 p.m., 2 May-11 Jul 1954

A Date With Frosia, a musical program starring Frosia Gregory and produced by Harvey Hart, replaced CGE Showtime for part of the summer of 1954. Regularly featured performers included harpist Donna Hossack, keyboard player Dorothy Bromley, Lois and David Adams, dancers with the National Ballet, a quartet called the Enchanted Strings (Elsie Dunlop, Erica Zentner, Lois Thomas, and Lillian Nickoloff), and a quintet of female vocalists.


Fri 8:00-8:30 p.m., 7 Oct 1955-30 Mar 1956

In "Ferguson's Crime" the opening story of this series of half-hour, historical dramas, a young British soldier, after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, is billeted in an Ursuline convent. There, he falls in love with the novice who tends his wounds. When he is discovered hiding in the chapel one early morning, without a satisfactory explanation, he is courtmartialled and, according to the regulations imposed by his commanding officer to protect the nuns, sentenced to death.

Dateline boasted extensive research in the Public Archives and the aid of authorities in history from the Archives, the Royal Military College, the Canadian Army, and verification for accuracy in costume design. Nevertheless, the program used events of the past, principally the military past, to shore up dramas. Stories arose out of the capture of Fort Oswego in l756, the withdrawal of British troops from Canada in l870, native attacks on St. Lawrence River settlements in New France, the Metis rebellions of l870 and the Riel rebellion of l885, the building of the Rideau Canal, the search for the North Magnetic Pole, and even the contributions of Canadians to General George Gordon's trip up the Nile to the Sudan.

Joseph Schull and Jean Desprez wrote the scripts for the series. (Desprez wrote the episodes with a background in French Canada.) Like The Plouffe Family, the series was presented in both English and French language versions with the same cast. Dateline aired on English stations one week and French the next, and alternated with another program on each network (on the English stations, it alternated with The Wayne and Shuster Show). Guy Parent was the show's executive producer in Montreal.

Dave Price

Sat 11:15-11:30 p.m., 4 Jul-26 Sep 1953

Thu 7:45-8:00 p.m., 14 Oct 1954

Sat 11:00-11:15 p.m., 10 Oct 1953-19 Jun 1954

Toronto sports broadcaster Dave Price interviewed athletes and sports stars on this fifteen-minute, local segment of the DuMont network's broadcast, Wrestling As You Like It, from the U.S.A. The name of Price's show was changed to Sportfolio.

The David Clayton-Thomas Show

Mon 7:30-8:00 p.m., 25 Jun-9 Jul 1973

Singer and songwriter David Clayton-Thomas had recently parted with Blood, Sweat and Tears, the U.S. band that had brought him international fame, and returned to Canada to star in three half-hour programs for the CBC. A filmed opening, shot by Ed Long, showed Clayton-Thomas being driven to the studio in a Rolls Royce, and seemed to demonstrate the production's attitude toward its star. The shows, each divided into studio concert, jam session, and production number segments, concentrated on Clayton-Thomas as a working performer instead of simply using him as the host to a number of guest performers.

The show's band comprised both U.S. and Canadian musicians, including Ken Marco (guitar), William Smith (keyboards), Paul Stalworth (bass), "Spider Web" Rice (drums), Pat Riccio, Sr. (alto saxophone), Keith Jollimore and Steve Kennedy (tenor saxophones), Dave Caldwell (baritone saxophone), Bruce Cassidy (trumpet), Russ Little (trombone), and Bill Richards (strings). Marco, Smith, and Kennedy had all worked in Motherlode; Jollimore, Cassidy, and Little had all played in the horn section of Lighthouse; and Kennedy and Dianne Brooks, the only other vocalist featured in the series, in a duet with Clayton-Thomas, had been part of Doug Riley's ensemble, Dr. Music. The show's arranger and conductor was Trevor Lawrence.

The David Clayton-Thomas Show was created by writers George Mendeluk and David Slabotsky, and produced and directed in Toronto by Athan Katsos.

Day Of Decision

Sun 3:30-4:00 p.m., 22 Feb-26 Apr 1959

Day Of Decision combined dramatic reenactment and discussion to explore moments in history when men and women were compelled to make important decisions in the history of the world. The dramatic segment took up about twenty minutes of the half-hour broadcast. At the moment that the character must make up his or her mind, the scene switches to a panel discussion of the issues and the decision. The show's moderator was Dr. David Corbett, and Douglas Campbell narrated. Paul Power wrote and Michael Rothery produced the series in Vancouver.

The Days Before Yesterday

Sun 10:00-11:00 p.m., 4 Nov-16 Dec 1973

Sun 10:00-11:00 p.m., 25 Apr-6 Jun 1976 (R)

The Days Before Yesterday, a series of seven, one-hour films, produced by Cameron Graham, traced the development of Canada from the last years of the Victorian Age and the government of Wilfrid Laurier to the postwar prosperity of the 1950s and the government of Louis St. Laurent.

l. The Jewel In The Crown documents the years l897 to 19l7, the Laurier and Borden governments, the deterioration of relations between Quebec and Canada, and the country's involvement in World War I. 2. Lord Byng, Canada Welcomes You covers the years from the Armistice to the start of the Great Depression, and includes the growing immigration to the west, the Winnipeg General Strike, Prohibition, and the governments of Arthur Meighen and William Lyon Mackenzie King. 3. Concentrating on the years of the Depression, The Best of Times. . . The Worst of Times focuses on the government of R.B. Bennett. 4. King or Chaos covers the end of the Depression and the path to war under Mackenzie King. 5. For King and Country deals with the country's role in World War II and the economic and cultural effects of the war in Canada. 6. King of Canada pays tribute to Mackenzie King in the final years of his political career, from l945 to 1948, and also deals with reconstruction and expansion in the years following the war and the growth of the Cold War and the Red Scare. 7. Chairman of the Board, the concluding film in the series, deals with the administration of Louis St. Laurent and the end of Liberal rule in Ottawa with the rise to power of John Diefenbaker. Brian Nolan directed parts one to four, Munroe Scott directed parts five and six, and Edmund Reid directed part seven. Peter C. Newman wrote the script, and the program's host and narrator was Bruce Hutchinson.

Daytime Challenge

Mon/Wed/Fri 3:00-3:30 p.m.,

A daytime version of Front Page Challenge (q.v.), produced by Cynthia Grech, this program also featured host Fred Davis.


Thu 10:00-10:30 p.m., 17 Jan-19 May 1980

CBMT-TV in Montreal introduced Decision, a political discussion broadcast, as a local program after the Parti Quebecois took power in the 1976 Quebec election. The CBC picked the show up for national broadcast in anticipation of the 1980 referendum on sovereignty association. Montreal Gazette writer and program host L. Ian MacDonald introduced the topic for discussion and turned the show over to Montreal lawyer Stanley Hartt, who was the moderator for the debate. The show's guests were mainly people of political action and influence, not commentators. Subjects for discussion included the referendum process itself, the question of economic association, and influence on voters from outside Quebec.


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

Delilah, who lived in the city, inherited a barber shop in a small town and, consequently, became that town's first woman barber. This was the premise of a weak attempt by the CBC to create a situation comedy. The show did feature some notable characters actors, such as Terry Tweed as Delilah, Barbara Hamilton as her Aunt Peggy, Eric House as T.J., the local newspaper editor, Kay Hawtrey as Frances, and Peter Mews as Franny, a close friend to the family. Other cast members included Joyce Gordon as Mavis, Paulle Clark as Isabel, and Miles McNamara as Delilah's little brother.

The show encountered criticism for its superficial writing and vacuity, and the series lasted only thirteen weeks. Delilah was taped with a studio audience. Jack Sampson and Ron Meraska were the directors, and David Peddie produced.

The Denny Vaughan Show

Wed 8:00-8:30 p.m., 16 Jun-1 Jul 1954

Wed 10:30-11:00 p.m., 7 Jul-28 Jul 1954

Mon 9:30-10:00 p.m., 31 Oct 1955-18 Jun 1956

Mon 9:30-10:00 p.m., 24 Sep 1956-17 Jun 1957

Pianist and arranger Denny Vaughan and singer Joan Fairfax had appeared in a popular summer series in 1954. When it attracted Lever Brothers as a commercial sponsor, starting in the 1955 season, it had changed format. Where the summer show had been a relaxed and unassuming musical program, the regular season broadcasts, produced by Loyd Brydon, had more glitz. With its major production numbers and comics imported from the U.S.A., it had become, in the words of Hugh Garner, "a 'variety show,' with all the banalities this term implies." By the 1956 season, the producer retreated back into a more strictly musical format and adopted a more consciously Canadian talent policy. The producers put Vaughan's orchestra on camera for the first time, and included, as well as stars Vaughan and Fairfax, numbers by the Don Wright Singers, a ten voice chorus and by dancers Glenna Jones, Don Hewitt, Mitch Nutick, and Charles Calmers. Two groups, the Diamonds and the Add-Fours, took turns as the featured vocal quartet. The show also featured an act from French Canada every week. By the end of the summer of 1957, however, the show's ratings dipped and the sponsor sought a new advertising outlet.

Denny's Sho*

Thu 9:00-9:30 p.m., 1 Jun-7 Sep 1978

In the 1960s, Denny Doherty had been the lead singer on hits such as "California Dreaming" for the Mamas and the Papas. When the band's career ended, Doherty returned to his native Halifax, where the CBC produced this thirteen week series of half-hour musical variety shows. The series featured a wide variety of musical guests from the U.S. and Canada: Murray McLauchlan, Ken Tobias, Marie-Paule Martin, Salome Bey, the Original Caste, Tom Gallant, Moe Koffman, Gloria Kaye, Ryan's Fancy, and Doherty's father, who played tuba while Denny sang "When I'm Sixty-Four." Among the show's highlights were appearances by Doherty's contemporaries in North American folk-rock, John Sebastian and Zalman Yanovsky of the Lovin' Spoonful, and the first public reunion of the surviving members of the Mamas and the Papas: Doherty, John Phillips, and Michelle Phillips (Cass Elliot had died in 1972).

Detective Quiz

Wed 9:30-10:00 p.m., 10 Sep-24 Sep 1952

In this quiz program, produced by Peter Macfarlane in Toronto, investigator Morley Callaghan challenged viewers to guess the criminal from clues onscreen. The show lasted only three weeks in the first month of CBC television programming.

The Diane Stapley Show

Fri 7:30-8:00 p.m., 22 Jan-27 May 1976

Fri 7:30-8:00 p.m., 24 Sep-31 Dec 1976

Diane Stapley, a talented singer and performer on stage and other television shows, such as Inside Canada, had the misfortune to star in, and have named for her, a musical variety series that was poorly conceived, realized, promoted, and received. Produced by Dave Robertson in a minuscule Winnipeg studio, The Diane Stapley Show demonstrated the few resources that the CBC could used to air a variety show. The program consisted mostly of music performed by Stapley, a band led by Dave Shaw, and guests such as Gordon Pinsent, Dean Regan, Dinah Christie, Tom Gallant, and Leon Bibb. The performances--of torch songs, middle of the road numbers, and show tunes--unfortunately could not disguise the show's lack of production values.

Eight shows had already been put on tape by the summer of 1975, when the CBC made some executive changes and assigned Jack McAndrew the headship of the Variety department. McAndrew changed the design of the show for the final five segments. He delayed scheduling the show until the new year, and tried to put some promotional muscle behind Stapley by sending her on a cross-country publicity tour. However, the makeshift campaign did not work either.


Mon 7:30-8:00 p.m., 5 Jul-13 Sep 1971

Dianne Heatherington, often a gutsy and compelling singer, starred in this summer half-hour. It featured mostly rock oriented music performed by regulars Heatherington, the Merry Go Round, the Dave Shaw Orchestra, and guests drawn mostly from the Canadian rock scene (which should be evident from the names of some of the bands): Chilliwack, Sweet Honey Mead, Tom Northcott, North, Brave Belt, Wild Rice, Next. Ron Kantor produced the show in Winnipeg.


Mon 4:30-5:00 p.m., 7 Oct 1968-23 Jun 1969

Sat 1:30-2:00 p.m., 20 Sep-28 Nov 1969 (R)

Sat 1:30-2:00 p.m., 21 Feb-28 Mar 1970 (R)

Radio-Canada collaborated with France's Office de Radiodiffusion-Television Francaise, Belgium's Radiodiffusion-Television Belge, and Switzerland's Societe Suisse de Radiodiffusion to produce D'Iberville, a thirty-nine week dramatic series based on the life of Pierre Lemoyne, Sieur d'Iberville.

The series was a regrettably rare example of a French language production aired on the English language network.

D'Iberville was shot, in colour, on location near Quebec City, at Ile d'Orleans, where the producers ordered the construction of sets to represent Quebec and Montreal settlements at the end of the seventeenth century, and a full scale replica of d'Iberville's ship, The Pelican. The story of the series, which dealt generally with the battle among the French, English, and Dutch for control of the fur trade and the North American territories, was divided into three main parts. The first concerned young Pierre Lemoyne, and included the rivalry between the explorer Chevalier de La Salle and Sieur de LaBarre, Lemoyne's father's expeditions to Lake Ontario, and his subsequent death, and romance between Lemoyne and Genevieve Picote du Belestre, and the new government of New France under the Marquis de Denonville. The second set of programs featured the soldier d'Iberville, Chevalier de Troyes's expedition to Hudson's Bay, and the capture of forts at Monsoni, Rupert, and Quichicouane, and leads to d'Iberville's return to Quebec in l667. The final episodes traced d'Iberville's career as a naval commander on expedition to Acadia and Newfoundland, and included the capture of Forts Severn and Nelson.

The series had a cast of over l75 actors. Albert Millaire played Pierre Lemoyne, the lead. Jean Besre played Paul Lemoyne, Sieur de Maricourt; Alexandre Rigneault portrayed Jacques Le Ber, Jacques Monod was LaBarre, Other actors included Francois Rozet as Charles Lemoyne, d'Iberville's father, Gilles Pelletier as the Marquis de Denonville, Yves Letourneau as La Salle, and Leo Ilial as de Troyes.

The series was written by Guy Fournier, Jacques Letourneau, and Jean Pellerin, and produced by Pierre Gauvreau and Roland Guay.

The CBC also produced and broadcast This Is D'Iberville, a half-hour documentary, produced by Brian O'Leary, on the making of the television series (7 August 1967).

La Difference

Thu 9:30-10:00 p.m., 18 Jul-19 Sep 1968

Journalists Peter Desbarats and Richard Gwyn introduced La Difference, a public affairs program that explored aspects of the divergence between English and French cultures and societies in Canada. The show was not simply current affairs commentary; its premise, stated Desbarats, acknowledged that "history is often a matter of interpretation, written and taught to achieve certain ends." The eight one-hour shows in the series covered a variety of subjects, often with an intriguing approach.

The first program, called The Conquest, used the residual memory of Battle of the Plains of Abraham as the base for friction, and included Gwyn's interview with Francoise Loranger, author of Le Chemin du Roy, a political satire based on General Charles de Gaulle's headline-making, "Vive le Quebec libre' visit to Quebec in 1967. The second program, Confederation: The Politics of Survival, employed a debate structure to compare present day constitutional discussions with those of the Confederation era. Two Quebec MLAs--former Union Nationale minister Marcel Masse and Liberal minister Pierre Laporte--and two Ontario MPPs--Progressive conservative Bert Lawrence and Liberal Tim Reid--participated in the mock debate. Actors' voices took the parts of the Fathers of Confederation.

A third program, How the West Was Lost, confronted La Difference in the western provinces, through an examination of the Riel Rebellion and the entry of Manitoba into Confederation. Subsequent programs were St. George and the Lily, on the relations of French Canada and the Canadian military; You're A Good Man, Charles de Gaulle, again on the French President's 1967 visit; How Do You Say "Hot Dog" In Quebec?, on the threat to Quebec language and culture from U.S. influence; Patriots or Traitors, on sir Wilfri Laurier as an example of a politician with divided loyalties; and La Difference, on the underlying premise of the series, the stakes and results of the writing and teaching of Canadian and French Canadian history.

La Difference was produced in Montreal by Milo Chvostek. The executive producer of the series was Paul Wright.

Diplomatic Passport

Mon 4:00-4:30 p.m., 16 Oct 1961-30 Apr 1962

Diplomatic Passport was not a drama of international intrigue in the foreign service. Produced at CBC Ottawa by Ed Reid, it was a half-hour program that took Canadian viewers into the embassies of other nations for a look and for an interview with the ambassador and, usually, his wife. The diplomats provided a tour of the embassy grounds, talked about their homeland and about the function of the ambassador in Canada. David Scrivens was the commentator for the series, and Lloyd Robertson and Margaret Morris conducted the interviews. The series was also known simply as Foreign Embassies.

Directions In Music

Sun 4:30-5:00 p.m., 23 Apr-21 May 1961

Directions In Music, a half-hour, Sunday afternoon broadcast, was produced in Vancouver, and aimed to show viewers different musical forms and productions. The five parts presented Apollo and Hyacinth, a selection written by the German Hans Werner Henze in 1949, based on Greek mythology, performed for the program by mezzosoprano Winona Denyes, accompanied by a harpsichord and eight solo instruments, and discussed by conductor John Avison; a recital and talk by Lloyd Powell on piano music since Bach; the performance of intimate opera, by composers such as Purcell, Offenbach, and Thomas Arne, selections from whose Thomas and Sally are performed by the London Intiimate Opera Company; the music of James Joyce; and the Vancouver Cantata Singers, conducted by Hugh McLean, who perform a program of madrigals.


Fri 5:00-5:15 p.m., 8 Feb-28 Jun 1957

Fri 5:00-5:15 p.m., 3 Jul-25 Sep 1959

A fifteen minute, science show for children in the twelve to fourteen year old age group, Discoveries was produced in Winnipeg. Dick Sutton, the curator of the Manitoba Museum, introduced shows on topics in nature studies and natural history, such as native games and toys, pet turtles, and bird feeders. In March 1957, Dr. R.P. Coats, an executive with the Manitoba telephone system, presented a series of programs on communications, and demonstrated simple, easy-to-build objects that illustrated the processes he discussed. Starting in May 1957, for six weeks, "Uncle Stan" Westaway, a greenhouse technician at the University of Manitoba, discussed plants, vegetables, and trees. The concluding three programs of the 1957 series comprised a discussion of properties of electricity by Winnipeg high school teacher Rod McKenzie.

In 1959, another science series called Discoveries, with Mary Lela Grimes, appeared on the CBC, but it was a production of the Educational Radio and TV Centre in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Sun 4:30-5:00 p.m., 7 Jan-25 Mar 1962

Sat 10:30-11:00 p.m., 4 Aug-29 Sep 1962

Sun 10:30-11:00 p.m., 30 Jun-29 Sep 1963

A program of half-hour documentaries, produced in Vancouver, and usually on subjects pertaining to western Canada, Discovery appeared on the national network as a Sunday afternoon broadcast in the winter of 1962, and as a prime time summer replacement that summer and the next.

Many of the shows were divided into instalments broadcast over two or three weeks. They included, in the first series, a three part examination of the Spanish Civil War, written by George Woodcock and produced by Alex Pratt (January-February 1962); Here There Be Giants, a three part series of the northern explorers Bering and Mackenzie, produced by Michael Rothery (March l962). In the first summer series, some of the programs were Victoria l00, a two part documentary on Victoria in its centennial year, produced and written by George Robertson; and a two part examination of Rhodes Scholarships, written by William McCarthy and produced by Alex Pratt.

The third series featured a two part look at research in space medicine underway at the Boeing laboratories in Seattle, with host Bob Quintrell; two programs on domestic buildings, written by Arthur Erickson and produced by Alex Pratt; The Victoria Nile, on Sir Samuel Baker's expedition to discover the source of the Nile, written and produced by Tom Connachie; a two part view of physical fitness, written by Dave Brock and produced by Gordon Babineau; Early Aeronautics, on the attempts by the Wright Brothers, written by Dave Brock and produced by Alex Pratt; and a three part account of the early days of bush pilots in Canada.

The series producer was Philip Keatley.

The Disordered Mind

Wed 10:30-11:00 p.m., 20 Apr-11 May 1960

Wed 10:30-11:00 p.m., 20 Feb-20 Mar 1963

Sun 10:30-11:00 p.m., 11 Sep-2 Oct 1966

In 1960, The Disordered Mind was a four part subseries, broadcast on the Wednesday night Explorations program. A second series of four programs also appeared on Explorations in 1963. A third series was aired under its own title, on Sunday nights, in 1966.

Robert Anderson Associates produced The Disordered Mind, half-hour films that broke through some of the mysteries of mental illness for the television viewer. The series used authentic case histories and filmed consultations with patients and clinicians, instead of reconstructions.

The first series covered a range of disorders. The first program, Psychosomatic Disorders: A Coronary, presented the case of a thirty-four year old insurance salesman whose heart attack was traced to stress. Psychoneurotic Conditions: A Pathological Anxiety concerned an office worker whose suppression of hostilities cause anxiety that prevent him from leading a normal life. Psychotic Conditions: A Depression, the third program examines the case of a young man whose depression led him to try to kill his wife, child, and himself. The final program, Anti-Social Personality Disorders: A Psychopath, concerns a convicted burglar with "a complete absence of moral reponsibility."

The second series dealt with different cases, although similar types of disorders. One program dealt with the psychosomatic condition of obesity in a thirteen year old girl, and showed the treatment that she and her family were receiving. The second program concerned an obsessive compulsive who for five years had not been able to hold a job. In the third program, viewers saw the case of a paranoid schizophrenic who had once withdrawn and become overly suspicious, but who had recovered adequately to take a responsible job in the work force. The final program concerned a twenty-one year old who had been stealing vehicles since he was ten and who, at the time the film was made, was doing time. The programs generally traces the progress of the patient by returning to show show the results of psychotherapy.

The third series concentrated on younger subjects. The first show, titled The Aggressive Child, dealt with the treatment of a six year old boy who was always fighting. Girl in Danger was about a "pre-delinquent" thirteen year old with an emotional age of about six. Bright Boy, Bad Scholar, the third program, concerned the early treatment of learning problems, and the final show, Afraid of School, focused on a six year old boy for whom a trauma in infancy resulted in a fear and refusal to attend school.

Distinguished Canadians

Sun 2:00-2:30 p.m., 30 Apr-4 Jun 1972

Mon 10:30-11:00 p.m., 12 Jun-21 Aug 1972

John David Hamilton interviewed prominent Canadians in science, the arts and humanities, eductation, politics and religion in this half-hour program produced by Ain Soodor. Subjects included geophysicist J. Tuzo Wilso, playwright Gratien Gelinas, Claude Bissell, former president of the University of Toronto, historian Ramsay Cook, Marshall Crowe, the head of the Canada Development Corporation, Senator donald Cameron, entomologist Allison DeForrest Pickett, the Most Rev. George Henri Levesque, meurosurgeon Wilder Penfield, Pierre Juneasu, the chairman of the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, and Charlotte Whitton, the former mayor of Ottawa.

Dixieland Jazz

Wed 7:30-8:00 p.m., 21 Apr-28 Apr 1954

Thu 10:00-10:30 p.m., 27 May 1954

Mon 10:30-11:00 p.m., 6 Sep 1954

This half-hour broadcast was a musical program that starred cornetist Trump Davidson. The same year, Davidson headlined a radio broadcast, on the Trans-Canada network, from Toronto's Palace Pier dance hall

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