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When CBC visited the set of The Kids of Degrassi St.

Shot in the alleys and garages of Toronto's east end, the children's series had made waves around the world by 1985.

Toronto-shot children's series had been picked up around the globe

Meet The Kids of Degrassi Street

37 years ago
Duration 1:54
CBC visits the garages and back alleys of east-end Toronto in 1985 to see how the show operates.

Yes, it was a real street — but it was spelled De Grassi, not Degrassi.

And the producers of The Kids of Degrassi Street prided themselves on employing real, untrained kids as actors on the show. 

On CBC's Midday, host Jim Nunn said the "critically acclaimed" show had "turned a group of ordinary Toronto children into internationally known television actors."

When the CBC's Nan Devitt made a trip to the set in August 1985, the show was already into its sixth year.

'A little tiny street' 

"The response to this show is incredible," said producer Linda Schuyler. It's known around the world." (CBLT Newshour/CBC News)

Linda Schuyler, the show's co-producer, said The Kids of Degrassi Street was named for "a little tiny street ... and it's known around the world."

As the show's crew filmed an episode, identified on the slate as "Karen Keeps Her Word," Devitt said the show had been picked up by broadcasters in Scandinavia, the United States, Turkey, and Singapore, and was a "hit" on the BBC.

The CBC camera caught some of those kids at work.

"Just because I made one mistake doesn't mean that we don't have a deal," said young actor Anaïs Granofsky, seen delivering her dialogue.

The no-frills set for the scene, which consisted of an alley and a garage, hinted at the show's low budget.

"It's not a big-bucks operation," said Devitt. "Not many film crews do location shooting in the producer's garage."

Untrained local kids

Anais Granofsky, right, originally played a character named Karen but later became known as Lucy on Degrassi Junior High. (CBLT Newshour/CBC News)

"The kids are very natural on film," said Schuyler. "We work on that. We don't overwork them ... we put them through our own workshops and training period." 

She added that the actors came from "local schools," and Devitt noted that they wore their own clothing on set and no makeup.

In December 1984, co-producer Kit Hood told the Globe and Mail: "We look for bright kids, with a good sense of humour, and for kids that look vulnerable, like they don't know all the answers."

John Ioannou played Pete on The Kids of Degrassi Street, and portrayed a different character named Alex on Degrassi Junior High. (CBLT Newshour/CBC News)

According to the newspaper, Schuyler and Hood formed a production company together in 1976 after Schuyler, a teacher, brought a film she'd made to Hood's editing studio. The pair formed Playing With Time Productions, and The Kids of Degrassi Street evolved from a drama, Ida Makes a Movie, after it proved popular on CBC, 

"I learned, like, when I first started with them," young actor John Ioannou told the CBC. "I didn't know what was going on ... I found out, 'this is a camera, this is what I'm supposed to talk into.'"

The Kids of Degrassi Street evolved further into Degrassi Junior High and, later, Degrassi High. 

The cast of Degrassi Junior High: (Front, left to right) Michael Blake, Angela Deiseach, Irene Courakos, Stefan Brogren. (Back, left to right) Amanda Cook, Maureen Deiseach, Bill Parrott, Cathy Keenan, Dayo Ade (CBC Still Photo Collection)

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