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CBC Television Series, 1952-1982

by Blaine Allan

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Wojeck
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Wojeck

Tue 9:00-10:00 p.m., 13 Sep-22 Nov 1966 Tue 9:30-10:30 p.m., 4 Jul-29 Aug 1967 (R) Tue 9:00-10:00 p.m., 2 Jan-12 Mar 1968 Tue 9:00-10:00 p.m., 11 Feb-20 Mar 1969 (R)

As This Hour Has Seven Days set an agenda for public affairs on CBC television in the years 1964 and 1965, only a year later Wojeck established a new standard for drama. Both evolved from the techniques and ethics of direct cinema documentary, and tested the established television standards to use the medium as a social tool in vibrant, exciting, and challenging ways.

Wojeck, created by Phillip Hersch, was inspired by the headlines that Dr. Morton Shulman made as Toronto's chief coroner. Shulman extended the influence of his office through his inquiries into deaths caused by institutional and industrial negligence and forced issues of improved safety standards. (See Morton Shulman, Coroner [Toronto: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1975].) In the series pilot, Tell Them The Streets Are Dancing, which aired on The Bob Hope Theatre, 9 March 1966, coroner Dr. Steve Wojeck investigated the death by caisson disease of an Italian worker, and his inquiry led him to examine the conditions of the victim's workplace, a tunnel under construction. Producer and director Ronald Weyman and director of photography Grahame Woods, who shot the black-and-white film production on location with a lightweight camera that he could handhold, sacrificed conventional production values for a down-and-dirty naturalism. The program, and the series that ensued, tried to confront contemporary social issues through Wojeck's inquiries. The program's documentary style and the roots of the stories in the headlines of the day established standards and format that has filtered through CBC television drama ever since, in episodic series, such as Corwin or The Collaborators, and anthologies, in particular For The Record.

Wojeck was brought to life by John Vernon. Stalwart, often quiet and understated, Vernon's Steve Wojeck was frustrated or driven to outrage by people, officials, and institutions that failed to provide answers or acknowledge responsibility. He regularly questioned the decisions he had to make and, though he was in some senses a typical hero and paragon of virtue, he was invested with a greater vulnerability and depth, and differed from the standard television hero. Of Polish descent instead of the typical invisible Anglo-Saxon, he was also Catholic, an element of his personality that formed a part of his dilemma about abortion in a two-part episode titled The Cold Smile Of Friends.

The other regulars on the series were Ted Follows as Crown Attorney Arnie Bateman, Patricia Collins as Wojeck's wife, Marty, and Carl Banas as Detective Sergeant Byron James, with occasional appearances by Jamey Weyman and Tanis Montgomery as Stevey and Judy, the Wojecks' son and daughter.

The barriers that the series broke down were thematic as much as stylistic or technical. Under the guidance of executive producer Weyman and associate producer David Peddie, the writers explored issues that had rarely been confronted so directly in television drama, and in fact many of the programs can be categorized by the issue at their centre as much as by the actual story. There was an episode about abortion, about homosexuality, about construction safety, about drug addiction, about auto safety, about food inspection standards and methods, about negligence of the elderly--each of which precipitated a death that might have been avoided.

The first program in the series, one of the finest, exemplified what could be achieved within the form. The Last Man In The World starred John Yesno as a young native who arrives in Toronto from northern Ontario. The complications of his new life in the city--the racial prejudice he encounters, the hooker he mistakes for a girlfriend--propel him to commit suicide in a jail cell. Unfolding in flashback structure, the story is driven by Wojeck's search for the source of the belt with which Joe hanged himself. Visually and aurally adventurous, directed by Ron Kelly from Hersch's script, the program stretches the conventions of television drama to gain both immediacy and dramatic, emotional power.

Hersch wrote the scripts for the ten episodes of the first season. The directors included, in addition to Kelly, George McCowan, Paul Almond, and Daryl Duke. For the second series, which was produced in colour, he wrote only the first two episodes, a two-part story called Swing Low, Sweet Chariot; other writers included Lindsay Galloway, Sandy Stern, Len Barnett, John Gray, Jerry O'Flanagan, Ronald Dunn, and John Simpson. Cinematographer Woods's first film script was also presented in the series, though under a pseudonym while the program was in production; called After All, Who's Art Morrison?, it was an intriguing and sympathetic script about a middle-aged homosexual and the blackmail plot that forces him to disclose his secret. The directors for the series were Peter Carter, Rene' Bonnire, George Gorman, John Trent, George McCowan, and producer Weyman.

Wojeck gained both critical and commercial success. The Last Man In The World won the Wilderness Award as the CBC's best film production of the year, and an award at the Monte Carlo Film Festival. The series was sold to foreign markets in the U.K., Sweden, Holland, Belgium, Ireland, Finland, and Yugoslavia.

Photo (courtesy of CBC) shows .


Wok With Yan

Mon-Fri 12:30-1:00 p.m., 26 May-5 Sep 1980 Sat 1:30-2:00 p.m., 10 Jan-21 Feb 1981 (R) Mon-Fri 1:30-2:00 p.m., 2 Feb- Mon-Fri 4:30-5:00 p.m., 26 May 1981- Mon-Fri 4:00-4:30 p.m., 14 Sep 1981- Mon-Fri 2:00-2:30 p.m., 12 Oct 1981 Mon-Fri 4:00-4:30 p.m., 5 Jul-24 Sep 1982

In Wok With Yan, chef Stephen Yan demonstrated how to cook oriental dishes with a wok. A kind of Galloping Gourmet of the l980s, Yan achieved notoriety for his energy and ebullience and for the bad puns on the word, "wok," printed on his apron. The series was produced by Carlton Productions and Stephen Yan Productions in Ottawa.


The Wolfman Jack Show

Tue 7:30-8:00 p.m., 5 Oct 1976-13 Sep 1977

The U.S. disk jockey Wolfman Jack came to the greater public's attention in the 1972 film American Graffiti and as the announcer for the television rock concert series, The Midnight Special. His Howl Productions co-produced The Wolfman Jack Show with the CBC in Vancouver. The producers booked foreign performers as well as Canadian musical artists, such as the Stampeders and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and was intended to give Canadian artists an avenue into an international market. The program also featured regular performances by the Famous People Players, and comedy with Danny Wells, Peter Cullen, and Sally Sales.

The executive producer was Don Kelley, the producer Riff Markowitz, and the director Mark Warren.


A Women's Place

Wed 10:30-11:00 p.m., 3 Nov 1976 Wed 10:30-11:00 p.m., 5 Jan 1977


Wonderful Grand Band

Thu 7:30-8:00 p.m., 18 Jun-10 Sep 1981

A half-hour musical variety show, produced in St. John's, this series starred the Wonderful Grand Band, with comics Greg Malone and Tommy Sexton. The band consisted of lead singer Ron Hynes, drummer Rocky Wiseman, fiddle player Jamie Snider, Sandy Morris and Glen Simmons on guitars, and Ian Perry on bass. The program combined rock and traditional music with satire, some of which was directed at the CBC itself. Two programs, for example, made a point of Ron's mother's resentment that her son was being exploited by the CBC. Another show opened in the local Unemployment Insurance office, with Snider singing his own song, "It's U.I.C." The producer was Jack Kellum and the director Wayne Guzzwell.


Words And Music

Tue 10:00-10:30 p.m., 16 Jun-22 Sep 1970

A musical variety show from Winnipeg, Words And Music starred Yvette, with the David Shaw Orchestra. The program featured a selection of local performers and musical styles that included jazz, country, and pop.


World Aquarium

Tue 10:30-11:00 p.m., 3 Jun-29 Jul 1975

Produced by Gordon Glynn and Doug Gillingham at CBC Vancouver, World Aquarium was a series of seven, half-hour shows on marine life in the Pacific. The production ranged from the Vancouver Public Aquarium to the Great Barrier Reef off the Australian coast. The first program introduced viewers to the aquarium, with the institution's director, Murray Newman, who was the host of the series with CBC announcer Bob Switzer. The second and third episodes compared the harbours of Vancouver and Sydney and marine animal and plant life off the two coasts. The fourth program concentrated on sea lions, seals, and basking sharks to be found off the west coast of Vancouver Island. The remaining programs outlined support systems for marine life, the migration of salmon, and the aquatic mammals, whales and dolphins.


The World In Action

Tue 10:00-10:30 p.m., 8 Jul 1958 Thu 10:00-10:30 p.m., 25 Aug-17 Jul 1957

This series of documentaries, from the National Film Board, succeeded Window On The World, and described different aspects of the Commonwealth. Individual programs included Ten Days That Shook The Commonwealth, on the Suez Crisis; Four Centuries Of Growing Pains, on the history of the British Empire and the Commonwealth; Crisis In Asia, on India, Pakistan, and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka); Can They Hold Together?, on the tests to the bonds of the Commonwealth; The Invisible Keystone, on the spread of British Constitutional principles to the colonies; Poverty And Plenty, on Commonwealth aid; Colonialism--Ogre Or Angel?; They Called It The White Man's Burden, on the problems of paternalism; Black And White In South Africa, on racial policies; The Colonies Look Ahead, on current economic and social development; and Road To Independence, on the political evolution of the Empire and Commonwealth.


World Of Life

Mon-Fri 2:45-3:00 p.m., 1 Jun-26 Jun 1959


The World Of Man

Fri 4:30-5:00 p.m., 3 Apr-25 Sep 1070 Sat 1:00-1:30 p.m., 15 Apr-26 Aug 1972 Sat 3:00-3:30 p.m., 7 Jul 1973- Sat 1:00-1:30 p.m., 14 Jul-8 Sep 1973 Sat 1:00-1:30 p.m., 13 Jul-28 Sep 1974 Sat 2:30-3:00 p.m., 5 Jul 1975- Sat 1:00-1:30 p.m., 12 Jul-20 Sep 1975

Produced by the CBC's schools and youth department, The World Of Man was first a series of thirteen, half-hour programs on human life and its environment in different locales around the world. Each program concentrated on a different aspect of agriculture and industry: sugar in Egypt, wool in Australia, ranching in Argentina, diamond mining in East Africa, farming in East Germany, coffee in Tanzania, oil in Libya, rice in Thailand, lumber in Finland, and farming in Japan.


The World Of Music

Sun 7:30-8:00 p.m., 2 Oct 1960-2 Jul 1961

The World Of Music, a half-hour variety show with Wally Koster, devoted individual programs to different themes or styles of music. It was scheduled to include, among its thirty-two broadcasts, nine based on songs from current lps, six that used familiar tunes, six with ethnic musical groups, three that featured dance, and two that highlighted extracts from opera. Guests included Joyce Sullivan, Alan and Blanche Lund, the Travellers, Dorothy Collins, Lister Sinclair, and Ernestine Anderson. The supervising producer of the show was Len Starmer.


World Of Music

Sat 6:30-6:45 p.m., 3 Oct-28 Nov 1964 Sat 6:30-6:45 p.m., 3 Jul-25 Sep 1965

A program of international music, the mid-l960s version of World Of Music starred singer Lucienne Watson, known as Zou Zou Sabourin, with an instrumental quartet that comprised Chris Jordan on guitar, Harlan Green on flute, Johnny Scivoletto on accordion, and Eddy Bayens on drums. Zou Zou's sister Helene was a frequent guest on the program, which was produced by Gloria White in Edmonton.


A World Of Music

Sat 10:30-11:00 p.m., 17 Sep-10 Dec 1966

In A World Of Music, folk duo Malka and Joso took over the Saturday night post-hockey/pre-news time slot for a program of music from around the world. Israeli Malka Himel and Yugoslavia- born Joso Spralya had been singing music in different languages in Canada for several years. The show was chosen from a number proposed to replace Juliette, partly because of the distinct difference it offered. Their guests for the television show included a wide range of folk performers: Odetta, Yma Sumac, Ian and Sylvia, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Jan Rubes, Miriam Makeba. However, the program did not match the ratings of the Juliette show, which it succeeded, and lasted only thirteen weeks, until December. As the show's head writer Alex Barris noted in his memoir, The Pierce-Arrow Showroom is Leaking (in a chapter titled "Anatomy of a Failure"), the program also attracted racist mail directed against the foreign music and against Malka. The production, he explains, was marked by compromise in order to make the international flavour more palatable, and by friction between the stars and the production staff. The ill-fated series was produced (the first shows in black-and-white and starting in October in colour) by Mark Warren. The musical director was Rudy Toth, and the show's choreographer was Andy Body.


World Of Music

Sun 2:30-3:30 p.m., 4 Feb-17 Mar 1968 Sun 2:30-3:30 p.m., 19 Jan-30 Mar 1969 Sun 3:00-4:00 p.m., 18 Jan-29 Mar 1970 Sun 3:00-4:00 p.m., 24 Jan-11 Apr 1971 Sun 3:00-4:00 p.m., 23 Jan-2 Apr 1972 Sun 3:00-4:00 p.m., 11 feb- 27 May 1973 Sun 3:00-4:00 p.m., 20 Jan-31 Mar 1974

World Of Music presented classical music from around the world in Sunday afternoon, one hour broadcasts. It included original CBC productions, as well as programs purchased from foreign sources, and documentary films on subjects of serious music, such as the National Film Board's portrait of Arthur Rubenstein, as well as programs of concerts, ballet, and opera. The executive producer of the series was John Barnes, and the host for the first season was Glenn Gould.


World Of Nature

Mon 5:00-5:30 p.m., 19 Oct 1964-31 May 1965

An English version of the Montreal show, Des Fourmis et des hommes, World Of Nature presented a series of programs on natural science and geography. Don McIntyre narrated segments on tribes of Mexico and the Kalahari Desert, on camouflage in underwater life, on forest vegetation and animals, and other subjects of scientific and anthropological interest.


The World Of Plants

Fri 7:30-8:00 p.m., 22 Sep 1978 Sat 11:30-12:00 noon, 7 Apr-8 Sep 1979 Sat 10:30-11:00 a.m., 31 May-16 Aug 1980

An introduction to horticulture, The World Of Plants was produced by Peter D. Marshall in Calgary, with Holland-born "plant doctor" Tineke Wilders. Shot from a mobile production unit, the program travelled to conservatories, solariums, nurseries, and plant clinics, as well as to W.O. Mitchell's greenhouse, where the writer obsessively tends orchids.


World Of Sport

Sat/Sun Times Vary, 8 Apr 1961-1 Oct 1965

This two hour, weekend afternoon broadcast covered a wide range of current sports activities, with commentary by the CBC sports reporting staff: Steve Douglas, Fred Sgambati, Don Wittman, Doug Maxwell. Often the broadcast featured tournaments that had been mounted for television coverage, such as CBC Championship Golf, or Cross Canada Curling. However, it also featured coverage of regularly scheduled events, including the CFL games and Ontario- Qubec Athletic Association university football. On l7 September l96l, the program also featured the first Canadian broadcast of a National Football League game from the U.S.A., between the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers.

The series was produced by Ty Lemburg, and superseded by CBC Sports Presents.


World Of Women

Sun 5:30-6:00 p.m., 14 Dec-21 Dec 1958

A two part series on the struggle for women's rights, World Of Women replaced The Candid Eye.


The World On Stage

Wed 10:30-11:00 p.m., 21 Jun-6 Sep 1967

Expo '67 and the parade of international entertainers who performed there were the focal points of this series of twelve, half-hour programs. Radio-Canada staff announcer Lizette Gervais introduced programs of opera, ballet, symphonic music, theatre, and popular music from the Montreal World's Fair, produced at the International Broadcasting Centre at Expo. Two versions of the program were produced, one by Neil Andrews, for the English network, and one by Noel Gauvin and Pierre Morin, for the French service. The executive producer was Thom Benson.


World Passport

Mon 5:00-5:30 p.m., 4 Jul-19 Sep 1955 Thu 4:30-5:00 p.m., 25 Sep-11 Oct 1955 Tue 4:30-5:00 p.m., 30 Oct-15 Nov 1955

World Passport

Tue 5:00-5:30 p.m., 7 Jul-29 Sep 1959

Originating in Ottawa, this half-hour program for children presented films from around the world, selected by producer Michael Hind-Smith. A later version of the formula, under the same title, was produced in Montral, with host Steve Bloomer.


The World Through Stamps

Mon 5:45-6:00 p.m., 18 Oct-8 Nov 1954 Tue 4:45-5:00 p.m., 16 Nov 1954-17 May 1955

This was a half-hour film production.


Worlds Together

Wed 10:30-11:00 p.m., 1 Jun-13 Jul 1977

Adapted from the Radio-Canada series, Ce coin de terre, this seven part series of half-hour programs concerned the culture of Canada's different national communities. The programs themselves originated in different regions of the country. The first, from Vancouver, concerned Japanese, Filipino, and Russian people. The second concentrated on the Jewish community in Winnipeg. The third came from Alberta, and examined the German Canadians. The fourth program dealt with Bolivian and Bulgarian people. The fifth show profiled the Poles in Winnipeg. A Montreal program concentrated on the Greeks there. The series concluded with a program on the Ukrainians of Edmonton. The host for the English version of the show was Margaret Pacsu.


Worldwide

Sun 4:30-5:00 p.m., 31 Jan-13 Jun 1982 Sat 2:30-3:00 p.m., 23 Oct 1982-26 Mar 1983

A rare example of both collaboration between English and French services of the CBC and of looking to other nations (besides the United States and sometimes the U.K. and France) as sources for television material, Worldwide and its Radio-Canada counterpart, Tlmonde presented a digest of documentaries from foreign services to provide an international perspective on the world's events. It included coverage from West Germany, the U.K., Denmark, Italy, and other nations, gathered through Intermag, a group of current affairs programs (including the CBC's The Fifth Estate) that have exchanged items. The executive producer for the CBC was Glenn Sarty, and the hosts Carole Jerome (l982), Gerry Haslam (l982), Sheldon Turcotte (l982-83), and Claudia Theriault (l982-82). The host of Tlmonde was Jean Giroux.


Would You Believe

Sun 11:00-12:00 noon, 6 Oct 1968-21 Jun 1970 Sun 11:00-12:00 noon, 20 Sep 1970-27 Jun 1971 Sun 11:00-12:00 noon, 3 Oct 1971-18 Jun 1972

This Sunday afternoon discussion program, which alternated with church service coverage, involved contemporary issues of faith and religion. Hosts for the show were Tom Harpur (l968-70), Maxine Nu8nes (l968-70), Dana Bassett (l968-70), and Cathie Kneen (l970-72), and the producers Terry Thompson (l968-70) and Sig Gerber (l970-72).


Wrestling As You Like It

Sat 10:00-10:30 p.m., 15 May-2 Oct 1954 Sat 11:15-12:00 a.m., 10 Oct 1955-

See Saturday Night Wrestling.


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