CBC unveils ‘First Hand’ doc strand, arts content

Canadian broadcaster CBC has revealed its slate for the 2015-16 season with factual series commissions including the stand up-themed Still Standing and airport-focused Hello Goodbye, along with doc strand 'First Hand.' (Pictured: Still Standing host Jonny Harris)
May 29, 2015

Canadian broadcaster CBC has revealed its slate for the 2015-16 season, which includes its new doc strand, three factual entertainment series, and a cross-platform arts strategy.

Under the guidance of producer and former broadcast exec Charlotte Engel, CBC will also premiere its new weekly doc strand ‘First Hand’ on October 1 at 9 p.m. EST/PST. The program will showcase content from Canadian documentary filmmakers. No film titles were included in the programming announcement.

Elsewhere, CBC Arts – a cross-platform arts hub – will launch Crash Gallery on October 2 at 8:30 p.m. EST/PST. The Lark Productions-made program will challenge four artists in head-to-head competition as they create everything from graffiti and canvas paintings to sculptures.

The weekly series Exhibitionists (October 4) will focus on the creative motivations behind emerging and established Canadian artists, while Interrupt This Program (November 6) will explore the cultural undergrounds of global cities such as Beirut, Sarajevo and Kiev that have undergone war and political unrest.

The digital realm of CBC Arts will focus its sights on three commissioned series: Canada in the Frame, a webseries delving into the candid reactions of attendees at a pop-up art gallery; The Re-Education of Eddy Rogo, which will follow the titular auctioneer and art collector into the studios of eight Canadian artists; and, in collaboration with Toronto- and LA-based digital agency Secret Location, The Collective will commission videos from artist collectives across Canada. All three will have fall premieres.

Previously announced factual series premiering on the Canadian pubcaster include the stand up-themed Still Standing, the health-care focused Keeping Canada Alive and family friendly format Hello Goodbye.

Still Standing follows comedian Jonny Harris (pictured) across Canada as he immerses himself in the lives of small town locals and performs original stand-up routines for residents about their communities. The 13 x 30-minute series premieres on June 23 at 9:30 p.m. EST/PST.

Keeping Canada Alive(6 x 60 minutes), meanwhile, is a docuseries profiling Canada’s health care system. The Canadian version of the UK format from The Garden captures the struggles of Canadians seeking medicinal treatment and the diagnoses of medical providers. Keeping Canada Alive will make its debut October 4 at 9 p.m. EST/PST.

As well, Hello Goodbye (10 x 30 minutes) will spotlight narratives from people travelling through Toronto Pearson International – Canada’s busiest airport. Hosted by Dale Curd, the series will focus on the wide range of emotions associated with in- and out-bound flights. Hello Goodbye, based on a Dutch format, will air in the winter of 2016.

Elsewhere, the national broadcaster has renewed its primetime lineup with a 10th season of Dragons’ Den (20 x 60 minutes), a 55th season of David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things and a second season for Canada’s Smartest Person (one x 120 minutes/7 x 60 minutes). All programs are slated for fall.

Finally, the network has re-ordered its investigative documentary series The Fifth Estate for its 41st season, and investigative consumer program Marketplace for its 42nd.

“Last year at this time we signaled a shift in our content strategy, looking for programs that take creative risks, are unmistakably Canadian, and that ultimately can compete with the best,” Heather Conway, executive VP of English Services for the network, said in a statement.

“We delivered on that promise and next year’s lineup will see even more of what Canadians want from their public broadcaster, including a new arts strategy that will connect with Canadians’ passion for the arts,” she continued.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor-in-chief and content director for Realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to Realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.