Drama on the radio
Renowned Canadian actor Eric Peterson joins Rewind
host Michael Enright
this week to look at 75 years of drama on CBC Radio.
Peterson has built his career on radio, television and the stage, having starred in Billy Bishop Goes to War
and Corner Gas
as Oscar Leroy.
His first appearance on CBC Radio was in 1974 in a play called Them Donnelys
. More recently, he was in an episode of Afghanada
. He is also known for his role of Leon Robinovitch on Street Legal
Enright is being joined each by a guest co-host each week as Rewind
counts down to CBC's 75th anniversary. Revolving around themes that include politics, music, literature, and multiculturalism - the 12-part series is looking at how CBC has evolved into one of the world's most respected public broadcasters.
"The history of drama on CBC Radio is a long and illustrious one," Enright says.
CBC's national and regional drama series have served as a showcase for home-grown talent and has also provided a training-ground for many theatre professionals, he says.
"In fact, CBC drama was our national theatre for many years, as professional theatre wasn't really established in Canada until the mid-50s," he says.
In its early days, CBC's national and regional drama series were the primary showcase for the best of both home-grown and international drama. They also served as a training ground for many Canadian theatre professionals. With the coming of the Second World War, the CBC drama department became a source of war education and propaganda. There was The Theatre of Freedom, Transit Through Fire, The German World
and Nazi Eyes on Canada
. This clip is from The German World:
Though radio drama doesn't play as much of a role at CBC as it once did, from 1944-1961, about 6,000 plays were produced for CBC Radio. More than half of them were Canadian originals.
CBC was "truly a champion of Canadian cultural work," Enright says. "CBC Radio was an important vehicle for telling our stories."
Many actors who originally appeared on CBC Radio went on to transfer their skills and talents to the U.S. and U.K.
The episode discusses radio drama in CBC's early days when stars were generally British and American with supporting Canadian casts. It then works through the drama department's role during the Second World War and how there was a post-war boom in Canadian culture attributed directly to the wartime entertainers.
The evolution of radio drama is also studied, looking at the commission of Canadian plays, the development of soaps, the rise of comedy programming and dramas eventual place on segments on morning programs like Morningside
Some of the clips included in the episode are from Shakespeare plays, Wayne and Shuster, serial dramas like Jake and the Kid
, the Royal Canadian Air Farce
, horror series Nightfall
and more recent series, such as Canadia
You can hear the episode on Rewind's website
You can also come back to the 75th anniversary site
and visit our special Rewind section
following each episode's broadcast for a chance to hear extended audio from the series, like the one above. Just revisit these preview blogs each week after Rewind
's broadcast to find the extra clips.
Posted on Oct 31, 2011 6:00:00 AM