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CBC Television Series, 1952-1982

by Blaine Allan

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CBC Series Index

THE NAKED MIND
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THE NATURE OF THINGS



The Naked Mind

Mon 10:00-10:30 p.m., 9 Sep-7 Oct 1974

This series of four, half-hour programs was derived from a single one hour show, also called The Naked Mind, broadcast in May 1973. To examine emotional disturbances, the show combined extracts from plays that illustrated the problem with commentary by four guest panelists and a psychologist or sociologist. The production employed a number of Canada's most accomplished players from the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, the Neptune Theatre, the New Brunswick Players, and the Charlottetown Festival to act the scenes. They included William Hutt, Frances Hyland, Eric House, Ted Follows, Nuala Fitzgerald, Bill Hosie, Amanda Hancox, Gracie Finley, William Needles, and Kenneth Pogue, who performed passages from such plays as My Fair Lady, The Devil's Disciple, Saint Joan, Harvey, The Four Poster, Johnny Belinda, and Anne of Green Gables.

Professionals who acted as onscreen consultants included Margery King of the Canadian Council on Children and Youth in Toronto, Wally Mealeia of Dalhousie University, and the Reverend Andrew Hogan, a sociologist and Member of Parliament. For each program, three panelists were chosen from among Donald Cameron and Judy LaMarsh, both writers and broadcasters; actors Barbara Hamilton, William Hutt, and Gale Garnett; producer Jack McAndrew; and the artistic directors of the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, Jean Gascon and Paxton Whitehead, respectively. They joined humorist Henry Morgan, who appeared on all four broadcasts. Live audiences attended the tapings, two of which occurred in Toronto and two in Halifax. Lorraine Thomson hosted The Naked Mind, and Garth Price produced.


The National

See News.


The National Dream

Sun 9;00-10:00 p.m., 3 Mar-28 Apr 1974

Sun 7:00-8:00 p.m., 4 Jan-22 Feb 1976 (R)

Sun 9:00-10:00 p.m., 6 Jun-20 Jun 1982 (R)

Sun 8:00-9:00 p.m., 27 Jun-25 Jul 1982 (R)

The CBC allocated two million dollars and took two years to produce its eight part adaptation of Pierre Berton's two volume history of the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (The National Dream; The Last Spike. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1970; 197l). Berton had previously published collections of journalism and interviews, stories, books of contemporary non-fiction, and historical works, such as Klondike, but these two bestsellers both introduced him to audiences who were more accustomed to seeing him on Front Page Challenge or hearing him on the radio as a chronicler of the nation's past and sealed his reputation as Canada's Popular Historian Laureate. (The television series was announced not long after the publication of The Last Spike; at that same time, The National Dream had been on the bestseller list for over eighty weeks.) Moreover, through his tireless efforts to promote the books, the author was tightly tied to his projects, and he continued his connection to the story of the CPR as onscreen narrator of the television films.

The television production wove drama and documentary together. It combined reconstructions of the events of the mid-nineteenth century with footage of Berton at the actual locations in the present day and archival still photographs, cartoons, and drawings. Berton originally embarked on the television series with Lister Sinclair as executive producer, and Barry Morse announced to direct the dramatic sequences. The CBC also contracted Timothy Findlay to write the reconstructions and William Whitehead to write commentary. The network originally estimated that two episodes would suffice, but Berton balked. He and Sinclair blocked out the sequence of events, and reckoned that the epic saga would take eight, one-hour episodes to be told in adequate detail and colour.

In its development of major projects, the CBC has devoted itself most tenaciouly to period productions, such as The Whiteoaks Of Jalna and Empire, Inc. Conversely, such undertakings demand considerable resources in research, writing, and production. The National Dream compounded those demands because of the dual nature of the production as both drama and documentary, and because of the scope of the subject, which called for a large cast of characters and required the crew to travel to more than twenty locations across the country.

Sponsored by Royal Trust, the initial run of the series attracted the biggest ratings for any dramatic program in CBC history to that date, an estimated audience of over three million, and a revised version of the series was sold to the BBC. A Canadian history produced essentially for a Canadian audiences, The National Dream met a cultural need and proved a success. Nevertheless, it also demonstrated the typical CBC ambivalence over entertainment and education. Although the story of the politics and machinations behind the construction of the CPR in themselves comprised a drama of value, the series was also made with subsequent classroom use in mind.

In the first episode, The Great Lone Land, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald introduced the promise of a railway to the Pacific through the l87l Speech from the Throne, and the second episode took the story of the CPR up to l873. Titled The Pacific Scandal, it centred on charges that the Conservatives had compromised the government for political advantage in its alliance with financier Sir Hugh Allan. The drama climaxed with Macdonald's defence in the House of Commons, but ended with his resignation and the assumption of power by Liberal Alexander Mackenzie. The Horrid B.C. Business, the third episode, traced the staggering progress of the railway, with conflicts between B.C. and the Canadian government and among the surveyors planning the route, through the years of the Mackenzie government. Returned to power in l878, Macdonald continued to argue the railway in the House, and in The Great Debate, episode four, pushed the required legislation through Parliament. The Railway General, the fifth segment, concentrated on the rapid progress of construction on the prairies in l882 and l883 and the development of western Canada under the influence of the CPR's general manager, William Cornelius Van Horne. In the sixth episode, The Sea Of Mountains, however, the construction crews' progress was slowed by the Rockies. The drama concentrated on contractor Andrew Onderdonk, who imported thousands of workers from China to make a path through the mountains, and the engineer Major A. B. Rogers, who located the pass through the Selkirks that now bears his name. In the latter days of contruction in the mountains and north of Lake Superior, outlined in episode seven, The Desperate Days, Macdonald was also faced with bloody rebellion by the farmers, natives and Metis in the west. Over this segment and the last, titled The Last Spike, the CPR faced labour unrest and financial ruin until it was saved by a government loan and the railway completed in l885.

The production assembled an admirable collection of Canada's male character actors to play the politicians, engineers, financiers, and workers responsible for the railway. The two principals were William Hutt as John A. Macdonald and John Colicos as Van Horne. Others included Gillie Fenwick as Alexander Mackenzie; Joseph Shaw, Chris Wiggins, and Gerard Parkes as, respectively, George Stephen, Donald Smith, and Edward Blake, the members of the financial syndicate behind the C.P.R.; Tony Van Bridge as chief surveyor Sandford Fleming; James B. Douglas as Major A. B. Rogers; Robin Gammell as Walter Moberly; Claude Prefontaine as Georges-Etienne Cartier; Sandy Webster as Marcus Smith; Richard Whelan as George McMullen; Kenneth Pogue as James Hill; Paxton Whitehead as Lord Dufferin; Jonathan Welsh as Albert Rogers; Ted Follows as Charles Tupper; David Schurrman as J. H. E. Secretan; Michael J. Reynolds as Andrew Onderdonk; John Horton as Lucius Seth Huntington; and Henry Stamper as Hugh Allan. The only main female role was Agnes Macdonald, played by Pat Galloway. Some of the supporting players included Lloyd Berry as Miller; Vernon Chapman as Richard Cartwright; George Chow as Chen; Joe Crowfoot as the native chief Crowfoot; Neil Dainard as Robert Rylatt; Jim Henshaw as Wilcox; Robert Joy as Carter; Jean Marie Lemieux as Father Lacombe; Don McManus as General Lafayette Rosser; Peter Mews as John Henry Pope; Diana Barrington as Lady Dufferin; Susan Bird as Mary Macdonald; and Tim Crighton as William Topley.

James Murray produced the series and directed the documentary sequences, which were written by William Whitehead. Eric Till directed the dramatic reconstructions, written by Timothy Findlay. A principal credit for such a lush and complex period production went to art director Richard Lambert. The principal photography was by Harry Makin, with addition shooting by Vic Sarin, Rudolph Kovanic, Stan Clinton, Wallace Donaldson, Norman Allin, and Edmond Long, and the film was edited by Arla Saare and Don Haig. Louis Applebaum composed and conducted the musical score.


The National Update

See News.


The Nation's Business

Thu 7:30-7:45 p.m.,

Wed 7:30-7:45 p.m., 21 Sep 1960-8 Jun 1966

Wed 7:45-8:00 p.m., 12 Oct 1966-21 Jun 1967

Wed 9:00-9:15 p.m., 25 Oct 1967-24 Apr 1968

Sat 6:30-6:45 p.m., 5 Oct 1968-31 May 1969

Sun 11:10-11:15 p.m., 12 Oct 1969-31 May 1970

Sun 11:15-11:20 p.m., 11 Oct 1970-To Date

The Nation's Business started in the spring of 1956 as a ten minute, free time political television broadcast, a service already offered on CBC radio. It ran every other week, and alternated with The Rhythm Pals. In the autumn, it expanded to a quarter hour, and alternated with a broadcast of similar format devoted to the politics of the provinces. The alternating pattern of The Nation's Business and Provincial Affairs (q.v.) has continued, although the programs were cut back to slots five to seven minutes in length. In the first few years, the national broadcasts also alternated between English and French language addresses.

Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, party leaders, and senior Members of Parliament used the forum to speak on current issues. Broadcast times were allocated in agreement with the political parties, in the same proportion as the radio broadcasts. The programs originated in Ottawa, and were broadcast, directly wherever possible, by CBC stations and affiliates.

The first producer of the program was Michael Hind-Smith. He was succeeded in l960 by Lewis Miller. Subsequent producers included Jim Taylor (l964- 66), Bernard Austric (l966-68), Gordon Cullingham (l969-7l), Del McKenzie (l976-77), Nancy McLarty (l979-80), and Brian Frappier (l980-date).


The Nature Of Things

Sun 5:30-6:00 p.m., 6 Nov 1960-7 May 1961

Thu 8:00-8:30 p.m., 4 Jan-26 Jul 1962

Sun 5:30-6:00 p.m., 6 Jan-30 Jun 1963

Tue 10:30-11:00 p.m., 5 May-4 Aug 1964

Sun 5:00-5:30 p.m., 3 Jan-28 Mar 1965

Sun 5:00-5:30 p.m., 3 Oct 1965-23 Jan 1966

Mon 7:30-8:00 p.m., 20 Jun-5 Sep 1966

Sun 12:30-1:00 p.m., 2 Oct-18 Dec 1966 (R)

Sun 5:00-5:30 p.m., 8 Jan-16 Apr 1967

Thu 10:30-11:00 p.m., 19 Sep 1968-9 Jan 1969

Thu 10:30-11:00 p.m., 29 May-5 Aug 1969

Wed 7:30-8;00 p.m., 24 Sep 1969-7 Jan 1970

Thu 8:30-9:00 p.m., 15 Jan-10 Sep 1970

Mon 10:00-10:30 p.m., 14 Sep 1970-5 Jul 1971

Mon 10:30-11:00 p.m., 27 Sep 1971-22 May 1972

Mon 10:00-10:30 p.m., 6 Nov 1972-21 May 1973

Mon 10:00-10:30 p.m., 26 Nov 1973-11 Feb 1974

Mon 10:00-10:30 p.m., 1 Apr-20 May 1974

Wed 8:00-8:30 p.m., 9 Oct 1974-29 Jan 1975

Sun 10:30-11:00 a.m., 18 Dec 1974-9 Mar 1975 (R)

Wed 8:00-8:30 p.m., 29 Oct-24 Dec 1975

Sun 2:00-2:30 p.m., 5 Jan-9 Feb 1976 (R)

Mon 10:30-11:00 p.m., 10 May-5 Jul 1976 (R)

Wed 8:00-8:30 p.m., 14 Dec 1977-8 Mar 1978

Fri 5:00-5:30 23 Sep 1977-31 Mar 1978 (R)

Sun 7:30-8:00 p.m., 24 Sep-31 Dec 1978

Tue 4:30-5:00 p.m., 19 Jun-4 Sep 1979 (R)

Wed 8:00-9:00 p.m., 24 Oct 1979-5 Mar 1980

Sun 3:00-4:00 p.m., 6 Apr-27 Jul 1980 (R)

Wed 8:00-9:00 p.m., 8 Oct 1980-1 Apr 1981

Mon 2:00-3:00 p.m., 25 May-7 Sep 1981 (R)

Wed 8:00-9:00 p.m., 14 Oct 1981-1 Apr 1982

Tue 8:00-9:00 p.m., 1 Jun-7 Sep 1982 (R)

Wed 8;00-9:00 p.m., 20 Oct 1982-30- Mar 1983

One of the CBC's most successful productions in terms of longevity, audience acceptance, and international sales, The Nature Of Things has been a mainstay of the network's science unit since 1960. Underlying the programs is the interaction of human beings and aspects of different fields of natural and physical science and the evolution of technology. In the first series, each program included one main feature and a shorter item on developments in science news. In addition to domestic productions, The Nature of Things also collected material from film sources around the world. For the first few years, most of the programs were restricted to the CBC studios, with interviews, discussions, and film for illustration. By 1967, however, the unit had been able to expand into documentary film production.

The hosts for the show included faces familiar to CBC viewers: Patterson Hume and Donald Ivey, both of the University of Toronto, Donald Crowdis, from the Nova Scotia Science Museum, and the CBC producer and writer Lister Sinclair. In the first season, the program was produced by Norman Caton and organized by David Walker. The next year, James Murray took over the job of producer, and John Livingston joined the science programming unit in 1962. Of the three people largely responsible for building The Nature Of Things, none of Sinclair, Murray, or Livingston had formal training in the sciences, although Livingston had earned status as an authority on wildlife and conservation. Instead of academic training, they substituted their own curiosity for that of the viewer, and tried to aim their programs toward a practical understanding of science and nature.

One of the programs in a 1965 series, Animals And Man, written by William Whitehead, John Napier, and John Livingston, won an award for excellence in science television from the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation. The series, which discussed the anatomy, physiology, and behaviour of animals in relation to humans, was repeated in its entirety in the 1969 season. Other series programming broadcast under the Nature Of Things title included Galapagos, on the life and work of Charles Darwin and the ecology of the Galapagos Islands, written by Sinclair and Livingston; Machines And Man, in the 1968 season, with programs written by Raoul Engel, David Fulton, Roman Bittman, William Whitehead, and Jack Hutchinson; and The Ages Of Man, from the 1969 season, on developments in Canadian medical research, written by Michael Hastings, David Fulton, Bruce Martin, and Lloyd Mayeda, and produced by James Murray and Milo Chvostek.

Murray was the show's executive producer from 1969 to 1972 and again, starting in 1979. Nancy Archibald worked in that capacity from 1972 to 1979. Producers who followed Murray included Milo Chvostek, Roman Bittman, Vincent Tovell, Nancy Archibald, Heather Cook, Diederik D'Ailly, John Bassett, David Tucker, Italo Costa, Vishnu Mathur, and Richard Longley.

The most significant change in personnel came in 1980, when the geneticist and television and radio personality Dr. David Suzuki took over as the show's host. Suzuki's own popularity immediately gave the show a charge of popularity and currency that it may have needed. The host's high public profile and interest in matters of conservation and preservation of life also infused the program, the title of which was altered to The Nature Of Things, With David Suzuki.

Photo (courtesy of CBC) shows Dr. Ewan Whitaker, Lister Sinclair.


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