Former Alberta premier Ralph Klein will be handing out his signature "Ralph Bucks" on a new game show that airs this weekend — except this time, people won't actually be able to cash them in.
Klein will appear on a show called On the Clock on the Crossroads Television System network, which is available across Alberta and Ontario on cable and nationwide via satellite.
The format is simple: three Alberta "experts" — a Calgary city councillor, a columnist and a radio host — are asked questions on public policy, both serious and lighthearted, such as "How would you rewrite the national anthem?" or "List the benefits of global warming."
Klein, who is shown perched on a golden throne, evaluates the candid responses and awards Ralph Bucks to the contestants whose answers he found the best. The Ralph Bucks have no monetary value, but the person who has the most of them at the end of the game is declared the winner.
Ralph Bucks is what people dubbed the $400 rebate cheques Klein handed out to Albertans when he was premier and the province's coffers were bursting with revenue from the oil industry.
"It's a game show/talk show hybrid," says Josh Groberman, the show's producer and co-host.
"Ralph is hilarious. This is the best Ralph has ever been. He is raw, unedited, and you can tell when you watch the show that he had a lot of fun making this program."
More than 2 years in the making
Klein, who was a television reporter before he entered politics, has never been one to shy away from the cameras. Nor has he been one to mince words.
As premier, his fumbling frankness often got him into trouble, but it also endeared him to a large cross-section of the Alberta populace.
Groberman said he approached Klein about doing some sort of television show after he retired as premier in 2006. It took 2 ½ years to develop the format that will air Saturday night (10 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. MT).
CTS was launched in 1998 in Burlington, Ont., and markets itself as a network offering family-friendly programs with messages of hope.
Its lineup includes re-runs of Little House on the Prairie and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, as well as religious programs such as 100 Huntley Street.
CTS has committed to two episodes of On the Clock. The second one will air at the same time next Saturday. The network will then evaluate the response before committing to any more episodes.