TORONTO – An adaptation of a popular graphic novel, a time-travel romance and a reality show about an Indian bridal shop are among the new Canadian series joining CBC’s lineup.
The public broadcaster announced its programming slate for CBC TV and CBC Gem on Wednesday, noting the upcoming season will include more than 40 new and returning original series and specials from Canadian creators.
Among them is “Essex County,” a five-part limited series based on a trilogy of graphic novels by Jeff Lemire, which tells the story of four very different people linked through bloodlines who must find a way to come together. Premiering next winter, it comes on the heels of Disney Plus’ “Moon Knight,” which is based on the comics co-written by Lemire.
Joining the CBC drama slate in 2023 is “Plan B,” which has been adapted from the Radio-Canada French-language series created by Jean-François Asselin and Jacques Drolet and set in Montreal. It stars “Cardinal” lead Karine Vanasse and Toronto actor Patrick J. Adams of “Suits” as a man desperate to save his relationship — and the world along the way, while hopping through time.
On the reality television front comes “Bollywed,” which revolves around a family who have been running the beloved bridal shop Chandan Fashion in Toronto’s Little India for nearly four decades, premiering in winter 2023.
“I think we are really finding our mark in terms of coming up with great, interesting, dynamic, charming, funny, sad, important stories that are all really Canadian, and belong on the CBC, which I think is continuing to set us apart in a really meaningful way,” said Barbara Williams, executive vice-president at the CBC, in an interview.
Sally Catto, general manager of entertainment, factual and sports at the CBC, added, “We have a very broad mandate that requires us to be reflecting the country, whether it’s different cultures, backgrounds or demographics.”
It’s the same mandate that led to last year’s new and diverse series “Sort Of” and “Run the Burbs,” both of which will be returning this season, alongside “Strays,” “Son of a Critch,” “Diggstown,” “Moonshine,” and longtime mainstays “Heartland” and “Murdoch Mysteries,” among others.
Sketch comedy series “TallBoyz,” however, will not be returning after three seasons, and the previously announced Indigenous investigative drama “The Red” has been shelved. Drama series “Coroner,” meanwhile, is on the bubble with its lead actress having parted ways with the Toronto-set crime series.
In a separate statement, Catto said, “Serinda Swan has made the decision to leave the series to focus on new creative endeavours including directing, and we are now discussing options with the producers in light of her departure.”
Also coming next winter is competition show “Canada’s Ultimate Challenge,” in which coaches including Olympic athletes Donovan Bailey, Waneek Horn-Miller and Clara Hughes guide participants on a series of obstacle courses at iconic Canadian locations.
In comedy, CBC is adding Netflix co-production “Fakes,” which follows two best friends who accidentally create one of the largest fake ID empires in North America, and soon find themselves with more cash than they know what to do with. “Fakes” premieres this fall on CBC Gem.
Bringing the laughs, too, is this fall’s “Comedy Night with Rick Mercer.” The CBC favourite will be hosting eight one-hour specials and performing himself, alongside a slate of new and notable Canadian comedians.
New original documentaries include “Summit ‘72,” which chronicles the legendary Canada-USSR Summit hockey series on its 50th anniversary, and “Stay Tooned,” which examines how popular cartoons influenced culture.
Previously announced “SkyMed” has also received a premiere date of July 10. Created by “Transplant” producer Julie Puckrin, it features a diverse ensemble cast who play young first responders in the remote North saving lives while finding love.
Also previously announced is Marie Clements’ “Bones of Crows,” a five-part story led by an Indigenous woman as she survives Canada’s residential school system. Spanning generations, and commissioned by CBC/Radio-Canada in association with APTN, CBC says the project will first be released as a film version theatrically.
It’s one of several projects that are the result of CBC’s new partnership with APTN, which is dedicated to supporting, developing and broadcasting more Indigenous content together.
Still, in the company’s 2022-25 Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Plan, released last year, data showed that while 48.5 per cent of the CBC’s workforce identify as women, only 14.5 per cent identify as people of colour, 7.8 per cent as LGBTQ, 3.4 per cent as people with disabilities, and only 2.2 per cent as Indigenous.
While creators and advocates have called for more diversity in senior and executive roles, Williams pointed at the company’s commitment to hire six out of every 10 people from an “equity-seeking group,” saying the CBC “overachieved” meeting that goal last year and plans to do so again this year. She said the difference was at every level, including cast, crew, creative and productions staff.
“It’s a constant conversation,” says Catto. “It is looking at what is missing, and we do know that we still have work to do, although I think we’re making strides on better representing different voices from across the country.
“Everyone who touches these projects does have a say and a voice in discussing, putting forward, championing and influencing the content that you ultimately see on the screen.
“We are really ensuring that we have a range of voices at the table.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2022.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version referenced Karine Vanasse starring in “Coroner.” In fact, she starred in “Cardinal.”
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