CBC Television has unveiled a fall lineup heavy on reality shows, with four prime-time offerings from its newly created factual entertainment division.
Threenew ongoing drama series — a crime show, a medical showand a 20-episode comedy series based on a program that is already a hit in Quebec — were also in the season preview revealed Thursday in Toronto.
The public broadcaster plans more daily talk shows on the main network. It is developing a daytime show, to be aired at 11 a.m., focused on lifestyle and aimed at female viewers.A host should soon be named for the Toronto-produced show.
The Hour, hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos, has been added to the main network at 11 p.m. and will be developed into more of a late-night talk show with a studio audience. It remains on Newsworld at 8 p.m.
Kirstine Layfield, the executive director of network programming at the CBC, said the public broadcaster is expanding its definition of prime time to take in the 7-8 p.m. time-slot and later in the evening.
"We want to make CBC part of Canadians' daily routine again by making sure that when they turn on the TV, CBC will have something that will interest them and challenge them," Layfield said at the launch.
CBC is trying to build the number of viewers across its 24-hour-a-day schedule, she said, and doing that involves creating different kinds of programming.
"Our target is just to do better than we did in past seasons," she said in an interview. "But that is a tall order because the market for conventional TV is shrinking.
"We have to be competitive with U.S. programming in prime time, but there are things we want to nurture so we can build an audience across the 24 hours."
Series on intelligence, criminal cases
The new series are Intelligence, about present-day Canadian criminal and intelligence cases, Canadian-South Africanproduction Jozi-H, about an international band of doctors working in a chaotic hospital, and Rumours, a comedy about modern life inside a Toronto women's magazine.
Chris Haddock, the creator of Da Vinci's Inquest, is the writer behind Intelligence and Da Vinci star Ian Tracey plays a gangster who agrees to turn informant.
A reality show called The Canadian One will not be able to escape comparison to the popular Canadian Idol. Based on The One, a star-search program that has done well inDenmark and Britain, The Canadian One will be a search for the country's greatest unsigned musical talent.
Once the talent are selected through auditions, they must live and train together as well asperform on stage.In Quebec, a French-language versionof the concept called Star Academy has been a hit.
Cross-generational programs such as quiz show
Other reality-based shows:
- Test the Nation: National IQ Test: a live quiz show that tests participants' analytical skills.
- Underdogs: Wendy Mesley is to host a five-part series about consumers fighting back against business.
- Dragon's Den: will ask entrepreneurs to negotiate the world of business financing.
"We wanted to develop programs that families could watch together in prime time," said Julie Bristow, the executive director of factual entertainment programming at the CBC.
National IQ Test, based on a quiz show that has a following in 25 countries, is the kind of program that is cross-generational as it would engage both parents and children, she said in an interview.
Rick Mercer, This Hour on Tuesday
Britain's Dr. Who and Coronation Street are back for another season, along with comedy offerings such as The Rick Mercer Report, Just for Laughs, This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Royal Canadian Air Farce.
Rick Mercer and This Hour are grouped together on Tuesday night, while This Houris again featured Friday night with a comedy lineup that will include Air Farce and either Just for Laughs or Rick Mercer.
The CBC will bring back the forensic docudrama 72 Hours, featuring Canadian true-crime stories.
A 10-hour series called Hockey: A People's History, produced in-house,will trace the history of hockey in Canada. It is scheduled for Sunday prime time and filmed in high definition.
The new season alsoincludes:
- The miniseries Dragon Boys, a thriller about Asian organized crime on the West Coast that was bumped out of this season by delays in the schedule.
- October, 1970, an eight-hour hostage drama about the October crisis.
- Everest '82, about the first Canadians to climb the world's highest mountain.
Layfield said shorter dramatic series, such as October, 1970, give CBC a chance to offer fresh programming mid-season. Opening Night will return to the air mid-season, after the mini-series ends. Dragon's Den is starting in the fall, followed by Underdogs mid-season.
Thursday nights devoted to documentaries
The fall lineup features a Thursday night slot devoted to documentaries. Among the productions:
- The Great War: a four-hour documentary that marks the 90th anniversary of the First World War and talks to the descendants of Canadian soldiers.
- The Secret History of 9/11: a minute-by-minute account of the al-Qaeda attacks on New York's World Trade Center and other targets on Sept. 11, 2001, directed by CBC correspondent Terence McKenna.
- Arctic Rush: which looks at how the Arctic ice cap will melt over the next decade.
- Greatest Canadian Inventions: about 50 Canadian inventions the public can't live without.
- 9/11: Toxic Legacy: about the environmental fallout of 9/11.
Newsworld has added a new documentary program, The Big Picture, hosted by Avi Lewis.
In sports, the CBC will have the CFL season (including the 94th Grey Cup from Winnipeg), the 2007 Canada Winter Games, Championship Curling and Hockey Night in Canada.
In children's programming, which makes up a large chunk of the weekday schedule, new shows include:
- Curious George, about the mischievous monkey.
- Wilbur, with a barnyard full of animal friends.
- A new half-hour Mr. Meaty puppet series.
- SecretWorld of Og, based on the classic children's book by Pierre Berton.