CBC Digital Archives

This Hour has Seven Days: Frank talk, new views

In just two seasons between 1964 and 1966, This Hour has Seven Days staked its claim as the most defiant and controversial program in Canadian broadcasting history.~ Created by Douglas Leiterman and Patrick Watson, Seven Days launched a new era of public affairs television, actively taking on the role of the nation's ombudsman and interrogator. Some — including certain members of the CBC brass in Ottawa — called it "sensationalism," "arrogant" and a breach of journalistic neutrality. But Canadians loved it. Millions tuned in every Sunday night at 10 p.m. to watch the show everyone would be talking about the next day. The CBC Digital Archives presents nine complete episodes here, selected from the 50 programs made before the show was cancelled. Due to copyright issues, satirical sketches and songs that originally aired between news segments have been edited out.

media clip
Call-in radio host Larry Solway plies his trade for the cameras as Seven Days stops by radio upstart 1050 CHUM in Toronto to hear listeners give and get opinions on just about everything. More frank talk in a feature report on epilepsy challenges viewers to see past the condition and lift the stigma of disability. Also this week, a "happening" in Toronto, and the drama critic who thinks it's time to stop standing up for God Save the Queen when it's played in theatres.
• The man referred to at the top of the program who escaped from prison was Lucien Rivard. He faced charges in the U.S. for narcotics smuggling as part of a network allegedly controlled by the Mafia. Rivard was taken into custody in Montreal at the request of the U.S. government. The case came to national attention when a lawyer acting for the U.S. told the RCMP he was offered a $20,000 bribe in the case by high ranking Liberal aides.

• Rivard used a water hose at a Montreal jail to climb to freedom on March 2, 1965 and was on the lam for four months. The Canadian Press named him Newsmaker of the Year for 1965. He eventually stood trail in the U.S., where he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. After nine years served, he was deported back to Canada.
  • Larry Solway pioneered talk radio on 1050 CHUM in Toronto in the 1960s with his show Speak Your Mind, profiled in this clip. He later sat as a panellist on CBC Television's legal affairs game show This is the Law from 1970 to 1976. A versatile personality, Solway also made several film and television appearances, including roles in Meatballs, David Cronenberg's The Brood and in the 1990s profile of Jackie Presser, Teamster Boss.

• Epilepsy Canada was founded less than a year after this episode aired, in 1966. It is a non-profit organization aimed at raising awareness about the condition, promoting research initiatives and advocating on behalf of people with epilepsy. According to their website, 0.6 per cent of Canadians have epilepsy.

Medium: Television
Program: This Hour has Seven Days
Broadcast Date: March 7, 1965
Guest(s): Frances Collier, Abbey Lincoln, Sybil Shack, Larry Solway
Announcer: Warren Davis
Host: John Drainie, Laurier LaPierre
Interviewer: Betty Kennedy, Patrick Watson, Jean Templeton
Duration: 49:11
Movie footage: Nothing But a Man, courtesy Du Art Productions

Last updated: March 10, 2015

Page consulted on March 10, 2015

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