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CBC Television Series, 1952-1982

by Blaine Allan

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CBC Series Index


Quarterly Report

Various Days and Times, 25 Sep/30 Oct 1977

Various Days and Times, 8 Jan/19 Mar/11 Jun/10 Sep/17 Dec 1978

Various Days and Times, 25 Mar/24 Jun/16 Sep/23 Dec 1979

Various Days and Times, 25 Apr/10 Jun/14 Sep/15 Dec 1980

Various Days and Times, 20 Mar/27 Dec 1981

Various Days and Times, 14 Apr/6 Jun/12 Sep 1982

From 1977 to 1982, when the series was cancelled because of budgetary constraints, the CBC presented Quarterly Report, a "white paper," usually ninety minutes in length, on issues of national interest. Subjects varied from an assessment of current federal-provincial relations to unemployment to issues of the environment and industry. Some programs were particularly topical, such as the broadcasts on the Quebec referendum of 1980 and on the Canadian constitution, in the wake of Pierre Trudeau's drive for patriation. Then host of CBC radio's As It Happens, and in the early months of her tenure as host of CBC television's The Journal, Barbara Frum worked as onscreen host and narrator for this irregularly scheduled public affairs series. Although these documentaries were useful, detailed accounts, they rarely achieved a distinctive quality of television programming.

The series started with Canada's New Quebec (25 September 1977), on changes over the previous year, since the election of the Parti Quebecois. A Summer Chronicle (30 October 1977), on the opinions of Canadians about Quebec, had been shown on Radio-Canada in a parallel series, Tel Quel. An Uneasy Union (8 January 1978) concerned regional concerns and the current state of federalism. To Work For A Change (l9 March 1978) was the title of the program on unemployment, and Hostage Of History (ll June 1978) concerned Canadian Francophones outside Quebec, with particular attention shown to the Acadians. The People Of This Land (l0 September 1978) led off the new season with an examination of native people, which was criticized for perpetuating old, white stereotypes. The winter report was, fittingly, Energy: The Invisible Crisis (l7 December l978). Referendums: The Power Play (25 March 1979) looked forward to the vote in Quebec, while a year later, Quebec Referendum (25 April 1980) examined the subject more specifically. Labour Rights At Work was broadcast on 24 June l979,to end the season. The first show of the fall season, The Family: Portraits Of Change (l6 September 1979) was cited as a more engaging documentary than the conventional Quarterly Report. The West: Next Year - Now was broadcast on 23 December 1979. Inflation: The Cruel Tax (l4 September l980) examined the current double crisis of inflation and recession, and was followed by High Technology: Do We Have What It Takes? (l5 December 1980). Most of the Quarterly Reports examined domestic issues, but Canada - U.S.: Different Drumbeats offered an assessment of international relations. After The Flood (27 December 198l) appraised the current state of water resources and the myth of its eternal availability. The 1982 programs were The Road To Patriation (l4 April), The Electronic Web (6 June), and Up The Down Escalator (l2 September).

Producers for the series included George Robertson, Louise Lore, Richard Bocking, and Pierre Castonguay, and the executive producer was Ray Hazzan.

Quartiers De Paris

Tue 10:30-11:00 p.m., 22 Dec 1953

Tue 11:00-11:30 p.m., 29 Dec 1953-19 Apr 1954

A half-hour variety program, with "diseuse," Marjane, Quartiers De Paris appeared on the Toronto station, and continued on the Ottawa station after it dropped from the CBLT schedule.

Quebec In English

Sun 2:00-2:30 p.m., 13 Jun 1965

Sun 2:00-2:30 p.m., 20 Jun 1965

Sun 2:00-2:30 p.m., 27 Jun 1965

This series of three, half-hour programs went to a "happening," staged by Montreal artists and poets, provided a history of sport in Quebec, and, in the final show, included an interview with a woman who built her own bomb shelter and a profile of a religious sect devoted to theocracy.

Quelque Show

Sun 3:30-4:00 p.m., 5 Jan-23 Mar 1975

On the street interviews and observations were the main features of this program about Montreal, which was produced and hosted by Les Nirenberg and Nick Auf der Maur. They sampled opinion on a wide range of subjects, from religion to pornography, and provided a voice for a number of well-known Montreal street people.

Quentin Durgens, M.P.

Tue 9:00-10:00 p.m., 6 Dec 1966-14 Feb 1967

Tue 9:00-10:00 p.m., 24 Sep 1968-4 Feb 1969

Sun 9:00-10:00 p.m., 13 Jun-18 Jul 1971

Quentin Durgens went to Ottawa in Mr. Member Of Parliament, a six-part series in the 1965 season of The Serial (q.v.). A year later, the honourable member for Hampton County, played by Gordon Pinsent, returned for a second session. An idealistic and earnest freshman member, Durgens continually tested and learned the limits of his power as a government backbencher, with respect to his constituents, to the Opposition, and to his own caucus. Although Durgens's party was never named, the show's creation and run happened within the period of Lester Pearson's Liberal government. Durgens's own youth and charisma anticipated the rise to power of Pierre Trudeau, and the CBC even pushed forward the air date of a two- part Durgens special on a leadership race, The Road To Chaldaea, to coincide with the Liberal convention that brought Trudeau to power.

The series was originally conceived as a comedy, and Durgens's character retained some of the quality of a naive, folksy hick surrounded by connivers from the city all grabbing for power. A lawyer from Moose Falls, Durgens was thrust into his position when his father, the current M.P., died suddenly, and the son won the seat in a by-election. (He was later confirmed in a general election.) The action in the Serial shows and in the Quentin Durgens series alternated between the nation's capital and Durgens's home riding, and his problems generally involved run-ins with accepted House procedures or political manoeuvering that he just did not understand in Ottawa, or constituents' demands and problems, in stories that were often comic in tone, in Hampton County. The Ottawa dramas embroiled Durgens in questions of conflict of interest and party solidarity, as in the case of an episode in which the green M.P. criticizes the actions of his own party during question period. Other Ottawa stories had a more sympathetic and human dimension. In the opening episode of the second season, A Well-Marked Page, Durgens tried to intercede on behalf of the page boys in the House of Commons when he realized that one, a sixteen year old, was being retired and had lost several years of education as a result of holding the job. In the typical story, Quent spoke or acted on behalf of a colleague or issue, believing that he was right (and often, as far as morals or common sense were concerned, he was), only to find that his words or deeds ran against the party line or the accepted Ottawa practice. In Moose Falls, the stories involved, for example, a plebescite about liquor regulations and the conflict between "wets" and "drys." In a more serious episode, Durgens returned to his role as a barrister to defend a young native man charged with killing his own brother, and discovered deep levels of racial prejudice in the town.

Durgens's Moose Falls family consisted of his mother Hannah, played by Roxana Bond, and his son Eddie, played by Leslie Barringer. (In Mr. Member Of Parliament Durgens was married, but by the time he had his own series, she died for the sake of dramatic expediency.) He also relied on the help of the secretary in his law office, played by Nancy Kerr, and on the counsel of newspaper editor Jack Sewell, who was portrayed by Budd Knapp. Although the name Moose Falls connoted northern Ontario, the Hampton County exteriors were shot in the Stratford, St. Mary's, and New Hamburg area, and the Stratford Beacon-Herald building stood in for the offices of the Moose Falls Times-Examiner.

In Ottawa, the newcomer Durgens had fewer shoulders on which to lean. His secretary, 'Toinette, played by Suzanne Levesque, was a Quebcoise who, like Quent, had only recently arrived in Ottawa and was just learning the ropes. His surrogate father was the House Leader Letourneau, played by Ovila Lgar. From week to week, the benches and the backrooms of the Government and the Opposition were filled with familiar character actors: Chris Wiggins, Franz Russell, Henry Ramer, Jean-Louis Roux, William Needles, Cec Linder, Arch McDonnell, Bill Kemp, Hugh Webster, Sandy Webster, and many more. (In one episode, former Toronto Argonaut quarterback and later gravel-voiced sportscaster Annis Stukus played the Member for Lake Winnipeg West.)

The producers and production designers Murray Laufer and Les Lawrence prided themselves on authenticity. They were permitted to shoot exteriors in Ottawa (this got especially tricky to manage during the 1967 season, when the CBC crews had to contend with Centennial celebrations around Parliament Hill), and some interiors within the walls of the Parliament Buildings. In addition, a replica of the chamber of the House was built at Toronto's Lakeshore Studios to accommodate debate scenes.

Quentin Durgens was the creation of George Robertson, who wrote the scripts for all of the episodes, each one hour. The program was shot on videotape, and Harry Makin worked as director of photography. In the first season, David Gardner directed five episodes, Peter Boretski directed three, and John Trent two; the next season, the directors were Gardner, Trent, Kirk Jones, Daryl Duke, Francis Chapman, and David Main. David Gardner was the series producer, and Ronald Weyman the executive producer.

Photo courtesy of CBC.


Sun 10:30-11:00 p.m., 3 Jan-27 Jun 1961

Sun 10:30-11:00 p.m., 8 Oct 1961-27 May 1962

Sun 10:30-11:00 p.m., 14 Oct 1962-26 May 1963

Tue 10:30-11:00 p.m., 1 Oct 1963-10 Mar 1964

Tue 10:30-11:00 p.m., 21 Apr-26 May 1964

The CBC English network's Director of Programming, Doug Nixon, wanted a program that offered a window on experimental and innovative performance and production on the broadcast schedule. For its first six months, it was known as Q For Quest, and was a free-form anthology of dramatic, documentary, and musical productions that Ross McLean and Andrew Allan had developed for the CBC. Allan, a distinguished writer and producer devoted to the power and elegance of the word, had made major contributions to CBC radio, especially with the Stage series. He was not able to bring the same innovative fire to television, although he gave Q For Quest the distinction of his presence as onscreen host. Executive producer McLean oversaw film and studio productions on a wide variety of subjects relating to the arts.

The series opened with Burlap Bags, a play by Len Peterson, produced by Harvey Hart. Subsequent broadcasts included A Canvas For Conversation, with painters Harold Town, William Ronald, and Jack Nichols; An Evening Without James Reaney, written by James Reaney, produced by Hart; Josef Drenters, a film directed by Allan King; Festival In Puerto Rico, a National Film Board documentary with Maureen Forrester, directed by Roman Kroitor; Chekhov's For The Information Of Husbands, adapted by Mac Shoub and produced by Leo Orenstein; Paul Almond's production of Dylan Thomas's autobiographical sketch, Return Journey; a program of blues, called The Blues, produced by Daryl Duke and featuring Eve Smith, Don Francks, the Don Thompson Quintet, and guitarist Ed Bickert; Bikel Calling, a solo performance by Theodore Bikel, produced by Stan Harris; Mind Of Mingus, with jazz composer and player Charles Mingus; performances of The Great Scholar Wu, by Bertolt Brecht, and The World Of S.J. Perelman; The Wrecker, with Charmion King and Tom Harvey; and a recital by the bop vocal combo Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross.

After Ross McLean left the CBC and Andrew Allan gave up his host's duties, Daryl Duke took over the position of executive producer, and shortened the show's title to simply Quest. The host was Robert Whitehead, who was also a producer, as were Harvey Hart, George McCowan, and Mario Prizek. The second season opened with Hart's production of Asylums, a study of a woman facing life in a mental institution, with Catherine Proctor, Elise Charette, and Victoria Mitchell. A number of programs in the 196l-62 season reflected Duke's interest in jazz and the blues: performances by Jackie Cain and Roy Kral, by the Double Six of Paris and by the Wray Downes Trio, a program of blues, called House Of The Rising Sun, and Edward Bland's confrontational documentary film about jazz and racial tension in the U.S., The Cry Of Jazz. Other productions included adaptations of works by Henry Miller, The Alcoholic Veteran With The Washboard Cranium, by Arrabal, Picnic On The Battlefield, and by James Thurber, The Last Clock.

Barry Morse, Ivor Barry, and Henry Comor starred in The Trial Of Lady Chatterly, the program of dramatized extracts from the recent trial in which the publishers of D.H. Lawrence's novel were prosecuted for obscenity, started the third season. Subsequent programs included District Storyville, a jazz ballet set in a New Orleans bordello in the early part of the century.

At the end of his third season in charge of the program, Duke decided to leave Quest--his last show for the series, on l0 March 1964, featured Bob Dylan--as well as the CBC and Canada, and he went on to produce The Steve Allen Show in the U.S.A.

Question Mark

Sun 10:30-11:00 p.m., 20 Oct 1963-26 Jul 1964

The interviews and discussions in this half-hour program concerned problems of belief and morality; although it was not exclusively about religion, it returned to issues of devotion. The series opened with Charles Templeton's interview with Malcolm Boyd, a movie and television producer who gave up his career to join an Episcopal Seminary. A later Templeton show examined Moral Rearmament. Other programs included more secular features, such as Michael Magee's interview with Claude Ryan and Jean-Charles Felardeau on "the French Canadian way of life, and an examination of the prospects for a feature film industry in Canada, centring on the Montreal Film Festival. The show also devoted two programs to the National Hockey League and three consecutive broadcasts to the subject of suicide. One program, on the subject of "man and his world" deviated from the conventional interview format and featured readings by Madeleine Kronby and the host of Question Mark, J. Frank Willis.

The producer of the series was Del MacKenzie. Question Mark ran on every other week, alternating with Horizon.

Question Mark

Wed 5:00-5:30 p.m., 25 Sep-23 Oct 1974

This half-hour quiz show for children originated in Edmonton. It featured Michele Diamond and Dale Harvey, and was produced by Keith Newman.


Fri 3:00-3:30 p.m., 5 Jan-29 Jun 1962

Quintet, a half-hour musical variety show from Vancouver, starred Eleanor Collins, Bud Spencer, and the Chris Gage Trio, with Chris Gage on piano, Stan Johnson on bass, and Jimmy Whiteman on drums. The repertoire included Broadway show tunes, folk ballads, ethnic songs, and blues, and each week the program featured the works of a composer of pop music. Neil Sutherland produced the series.

Quiz Kids

Sat 11:30-12:00 noon, 1 Apr-30 Sep 1978

Sat 11:00-11:30 a.m., 3 Jul-2 Oct 1982

Produced in Corner Brook, this half-hour game show for elementary school children circulated to other CBC stations on regional exchange. The host was Jim Walsh, and the producer John Cook.

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