Bell Media has hit the gas on its original programming strategy, with nearly 100 new and returning titles across its English and French-language platforms for 2022-23.
The originals slate, announced ahead of its upfront presentation Thursday (June 9), includes 973 hours of English and French-language content for linear and streaming. It’s a boost from the 2021-22 Canadian content lineup of more than 75 English and French-language original programming titles.
It includes several greenlights and renewals, as well as previously announced programs, for CTV, Crave, Discovery and other CTV-branded specialty channels. Bell Media announced its pick-ups for CTV and specialty channels last week.
The linear network has greenlit two unscripted titles: Cross Country Cake Off (Proper Television), a cooking competition series hosted by Mary Berg, and Battle of the Generations (Bell Media Studios/Motion Content Group), a 20 x 60-minute quiz show where contestants of different ages compete to see know who knows the most about Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z.
Rounding out CTV’s new originals slate are the previously announced dating series Farming for Love (Lark Productions) and the documentary Buffy Sainte Marie: Power in the Blood (White Pine Pictures, Eagle Vision).
Sports network TSN will also air a number of docs from Uninterrupted Canada, including the newly announced doc on Montreal-born NBA champion Chris Boucher, in addition to already revealed titles “Sinc”: The Christine Sinclair Story, Black Ice, Wick, and The Grizzlie Truth.
Crave boosts its originals
Bell Media SVOD Crave has ordered a raft of English-language originals including Canada’s Drag Race: Canada Vs. The World (Saloon Media, Blue Ant Studios in association with World of Wonder), a spin-off of the global format where Canadian drag queens from previous seasons of Canada’s Drag Race face past contestants from international versions of RuPaul’s Drag Race; and I Have Nothing (Content Catalyst Fund in association with Blue Ant Studios), an unscripted comedy led by Carolyn Taylor (Baroness von Sketch Show) as she attempts to choreograph a pairs figure skating routine to the iconic Whitney Houston hit.
Newly announced original docs for Crave include Smoke & Gifts (Fathom Film Group), following the band Broken Social Scene; Coming Home (Rezolution Pictures, Logical Mayhem, APTN), a documentary on Little Bird, the upcoming first original drama for Crave; and Any Other Way: The Jackie Shane Story (Banger Films, National Film Board of Canada), about the trailblazing Black transgender soul singer, executive produced by Elliot Page.
Previously announced Crave English-language titles include Little Bird (Rezolution Pictures, APTN, OP Little Bird), docuseries Thunder Bay (eOne), and original docs Audiophilia – Adventures in the World of Hi-Fi (Sphinx Productions), Bam Bam: The Story of Sister Nancy (Oya Media Group), Kings of Coke (Connect 3, Urbania Media), Naked (Primitive Entertainment), Resident Orca (Everyday Films), Rock & Roll Revival (Screen Siren Pictures, Chapman Productions, and Films a Cinq), and Wilfred Buck (pictured, Door Number 3 in coproduction with the NFB).
Discovery Canada has three new greenlights: Bush Wreck Rescue (Omnifilm Entertainment), where experts restore cars and trucks abandoned in fields and ravines; The Mightiest (Bell Media Studios), a six-part docuseries from the channel’s Mighty franchise, currently in production; and two-part documentary After the Storm (Great Pacific Media), about the impact of a storm of the century. The projects join previously announced title A Cut Above (marblemedia).
The factual channel has also renewed GPM-produced series Heavy Rescue: 401 for a seventh season, Highway Thru Hell for season 11, and Mud Mountain Haulers for a second season, while Fear Thy Neighbour (Cream Productions) has been renewed for an eighth season on Investigation Discovery.
On the lifestyle side, CTV Life Channel has ordered Listing Large (Proper Television), following the real estate empire of Odeen Eccleston and Lamont Wiltshire, and Evolving Vegan (Bell Media Studios; pictured left), an eight-part culinary travel docuseries hosted by Mena Massoud (Aladdin). The series join the Gusto-produced titles Dine Your Sign, Spice Secrets and Veg Headz. CTV Life has also renewed Mary Makes it Easy (Proper Television) for a second season.
CTV Sci-Fi Channel also has two new greenlights, with Paranormal Revenge (Sphere Media), which shares real-life paranormal encounters revolving around the theme of revenge, and Urban Legend (Cream Productions), an anthology series, with each episode acting as a horror film themed around classic urban legends.
By Kelly Townsend, Playback Online