TORONTO — CBC has unveiled its fall-winter TV lineup, promising to deliver "more entertainment and escapism" over the next year.
It's the first Canadian broadcaster to reveal future programming plans to advertisers, in what's known in the industry as an upfront presentation, amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has seen the production industry grind to a halt.
Returning shows include the skating competition "Battle of the Blades," while previously announced buddy-cop drama "Lady Dicks" is among the new series.
The public broadcaster announced the programming slate online instead of the usual in-person upfront event.
"Lady Dicks," which was announced as in development in February, co-stars Meredith MacNeill of "Baroness von Sketch Show" and "Orange Is the New Black" actress Adrienne C. Moore as detectives in their early 40s.
The show will premiere in the winter and is co-created by Canadian screenwriters Tassie Cameron and Sherry White.
Other new programs include "Orangeville Prep," which profiles a high school basketball program in Orangeville, Ont., that has produced a high amount of Division 1 College and NBA players.
Returning titles also include the game show "Family Feud Canada," the comedies "Kim's Convenience" and "Workin' Moms," and the dramas "Murdoch Mysteries," "Frankie Drake Mysteries" and "Coroner."
"These remarkable times have strengthened the truly unique role CBC serves as Canada's most-trusted media brand, with record audiences turning to us for news and entertainment on all platforms in recent months," Barbara Williams, executive vice-president of CBC, said in a statement Wednesday.
"Looking ahead to fall and beyond, CBC is committed to serving Canadians across the country as no other broadcaster can by delivering distinct new programming and perspectives audiences won't find anywhere else. This includes both new and returning series and a confirmed fall schedule that responds to emerging trends for more entertainment and escapism, along with storytelling that offers inspiration, comfort and connection to others."
Wednesday's news release didn't state how production has or will unfold for some of the CBC's programs during the pandemic.
But it did say "Family Feud Canada," which is hosted by Gerry Dee and slated to return this fall, has started a nationwide virtual search for new Canadian families for season 2.
One particularly timely program will include "State of the Planet," which will kick off the 60th season of "The Nature of Things" this fall. It will feature a conversation between David Suzuki and Sir David Attenborough about "the pulse of our planet" and "whether humans can change their ways in time."
Set for a winter debut is the new factual show "Arctic Vets," about a team of veterinarians in Canada's north.
Several new programs on the schedule were announced at last year's upfront.
They include "The Trickster," an adaptation of the acclaimed "Son of a Trickster" novel by Eden Robinson, who grew up in Haisla territory near Kitamaat Village, B.C.
Michelle Latimer and Tony Elliott co-created the series, which will debut in the fall and has already been renewed for a second season. Newcomer Joel Oulette stars as an Indigenous teen dealing with a dysfunctional family and visions of "strange things."
Also announced at last year's upfront was the Canada/New Zealand relationship-driven thriller "The Sounds," which will premiere this fall with Canadian actress Rachelle Lefevre among the stars.
And the previously announced documentary series "Enslaved," in which Oscar-nominated actor Samuel L. Jackson traces the history of slavery through underwater archaeology, will premiere this fall. Canadian filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici directs.
International series in the fall lineup include "War of the Worlds," starring Daisy Edgar-Jones of the buzzy new series "Normal People," which started streaming on CBC Gem Wednesday.
"War of the Worlds" is a U.K./France drama is based on the sci-fi novel by H.G. Wells and also stars Gabriel Byrne and Elizabeth McGovern
Other returning series include: "Dragons' Den"; "The Fifth Estate"; "Tallboyz"; "The Great Canadian Baking Show"; "Heartland"; "Marketplace"; "Pure"; "This Hour Has 22 Minutes"; and the fifth and the final season of "Baroness von Sketch Show."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 27, 2020.
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press