The long run of Take 30, a show that did so much over its 22 years
Long-running daytime show featured entertainment, interviews, 'cross-fire discussions' and more
What was Take 30? The short answer is that over its 22-year, 2,500-episode run, it was a lot of things.
In September 1962, it began its life as an afternoon talk show that aimed to draw an audience of women who were at home during the day — a demographic that Take 30 would depend on and continually measure its relevance against in the years to come, even as many men were watching the show, too.
From the get-go, the Take 30 producers sought to bring their audience a wide mix of material across the show's five weekday broadcasts.
As early publicity materials promised, the show would "combine entertainment, interviews, games, cross-fire discussions on controversial subjects with household and fashion features."
'Not just women' would watch
The first hosts would be Anna Cameron and Paul Soles, with the initial format seeing them split hosting duties three shows a week. Each also got to act as solo host once a week.
Cameron had previously been a host on Open House, the show Take 30 was replacing. She was among a small group of women working in front of the camera in Canada at that time — a group that did not always get the respect that was deserved for their contribution in society and in their line of work.
"I consider it quite another challenge from that of Open House," Cameron said, according to CBC publicity materials used to promote the show ahead of its launch.
"It's a new format, intelligent and stimulating. It's a show aimed at 'people,' not just women."
Soles, an actor who would one day be the voice of the animated Spider-Man on television, was a bit less recognizable to CBC audiences at that point, though he would go on to appear on various shows on the network — including Canada After Dark, Beyond Reason and This Is The Law.
"I can't think of anything more exciting than being on an entirely new show, with as highly pleasant and capable a personality as Anna Cameron," Soles said, in a press release that announced his hiring as Cameron's co-host.
"The idea of creating something new is both awesome and challenging," said Soles, who would stick with the show for 16 years. (He died in 2021 at age 90.)
A show that 'should do well'
Roy Shields of the Toronto Star, who watched the taping of the first-ever Take 30, said the show "should do well." He liked the casting of Cameron and Soles, saying they acted as stand-ins as the sister and brother of the audience.
The show still had its critics, though — like Bob Blackburn of the Toronto Telegram who found all of the people on the show to be "self-conscious in their manner and stilted in their conversation" during their first few months on the air.
In the show's early years, Take 30 viewers would see many notable guests interviewed — including famed pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock, food writer James Beard, Broadway star Lillian Roth, folk singer Pete Seeger and Jerrie Cobb, the American pilot who hoped to be "the first western woman in space," but whose dream would not become a reality.
A fast-rising star
The show would see a key change when Cameron departed after the 1964-65 season. Her replacement was Adrienne Clarkson, the writer and journalist and future governor general of Canada.
Clarkson's potential for stardom seemed evident to the publicity people who touted her education and life experience to the viewers who would soon be seeing on their TV screens each weekday.
"She is ... a 26-year-old world traveller, English literature teacher, movie buff and housewife," a press release said ahead of the first Take 30 Clarkson would appear on.
Current affairs and more
The guests and the topics featured on Take 30 reflected the times during the years Clarkson and Soles worked together — occasionally with Ed Reid, one of the show's producers, who acted as a third co-host alongside them.
During this era, the Take 30 hosts talked to experts about abortion, the use of illegal drugs, a flu pandemic that Canada had seen up close and also about lighter issues — including the toys that their children hoped to see under the Christmas tree.
According to producer Glenn Sarty, who would go on to lead The Fifth Estate, it was an era when a sizeable portion of the show's audience was made up of men.
"Our audience was 40 per cent male," he told The Toronto Star years later, when the show came to an end.
Take 30 would continue to be a proving ground for CBC talent in its later years. When Clarkson left the show for the newly launched The Fifth Estate in 1975, Mary Lou Finlay, a rising CBC star herself, replaced her.
Two seasons later, Hana Gartner — who would be a familiar face on The Fifth Estate in future — would replace Finlay after she took a job at CTV (though she would return to CBC).
'As compelling as any soap opera'
By the end of its run, Take 30 was being hosted by Harry Brown and Nadine Berger.
The day of its final broadcast on April 27, 1984, The National's Knowlton Nash looked back at its legacy — including the range of topics and issues it had addressed across its many hundreds of broadcasts.
"It was meant to be something in the afternoon for housewives to watch and it became a program as compelling as any soap opera," Nash said, before viewers saw clips showing samples of some of the show's more dramatic moments.
A week after the last broadcast of Take 30, The Canadian Press reported that a declining audience share, due in part to changes in society, had been a key factor in the decision to end the show.
"The same audience doesn't exist anymore," said Bill Morgan, the head of CBC's current affairs, in a quote included in the report. "There are fewer public affairs-oriented housewives at home in the afternoon because many of them work."