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Will CBC revive soap opera? Listen next October...
The CBC, which hasn’t had a drama serial on English-language TV since 1953, is going to have two of them next season at a cost that may run to $1,500,000. They’re the biggest such projects the network has ever attempted.
The first one, still untitled but already dubbed “the soap opera” by officials of the rival (TV network, will run half an hour a day, five days a week, for 39 weeks, starting in October. JB ivi/i he set in an imaginary ( anadian town, and will present a complete serial every week in live installments. Subsidiary characters in one week’s show' will turn up as leads the following w'eek. Shooting will start Aug. 15, on scripts adapted from a library of radio and TV plays by the late Robert Howard Lindsay, a Canadian native who wrote mostly in the U. S.
The second and more ambitious show, tentatively called Canada Playhouse, is a 52-weeks-a-year show which
is already being filmed, although it w'on’t be aired until April, 1963. It will be a half-hour, once-a-week series of serials, mostly dramatizations of Canadian novels or of original stories with a strong Canadian regional flavor.
The first serial, in eight parts, will be a dramatization of Thomas Raddall’s Nova Scotia novel, The Wings of Night, starring James Doohan and Jeremy Wilkin. It will be followed by a six-part thriller, The Other Man, which was a hit on British TV, for which it was originally written. It will star Douglas Rain and Tony van Bridge. Later scripts will include a story set in a Quebec ski resort, and one set in Bay Street. Toronto’s financial centre.
The installments w'i 11 be shot one at a time (the actors in The Other Man aren’t being told whodunnit until they get to the last installment), mostly in CBC studios in Toronto. Outdoor location scenes, filmed in Nova Scotia or
on Bay Street, will be spliced in.
The project is a bonanza for Toronto actors, who normally get little work in the summer unless they’re at the Stratford festival. The Raddall novel will use about 50 performers, the British thriller about 35. A supporting actor, used in each installment of a Canada Playhouse serial, will make about $1,200; a featured player about $2.000. Helping actors isn’t the reason for taping in the summer, though; there’s a shortage of studio space in the busy winter months.
The CBC hopes to sell Canada Playhouse for use in other countries, and recoup part of its estimated $750,000 cost. The network owns only the Canadian rights to the daily serial, which is being made by a Toronto commercial video firm which is on the verge of selling it in England. So far. the CBC hasn’t got sponsors for either show.
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