Lots More Quality to Crow About Than Just Orphan Black

One of the things I have noticed in debates on Canadian TV in media and online, is that there is a lot more debate about policy, regulation, jobs etc., then there is about the shows we make here in Canada. And all too often critics of Canadian content will use the most obscure of our current shows or worse; dig deep in the archives, to argue it’s all a big failure, at least in English Canada. There are of course critics who do focus on current shows, good and bad, like @tv_eh and @MisterJohnDoyle. But too often it feels like our biggest critics don’t watch any Canadian shows. A lot of Canadians do.

At the CMPA Prime Time Conference earlier this month, I gave a shout out in my speech to a lot of shows and films that do resonate with audiences, large and small, in particular; Orphan Black. Lost Girl. Murdoch Mysteries. Income Property. Motive. Map to the Stars. Mommy. Republic of Doyle. Continuum. Bitten. Book of Negroes. The Grand Seduction. Heartland. 19-2. Rookie Blue. Saving Hope. Vikings. Sensitive Skin. X Company. Mr. Dee. Rick Mercer. This Hour Has 22 Minutes. Dragons Den. W5. Masterchef Canada. Yukon Gold. The F Word. The Nature of Things.

At the end of the day it is the shows that matter. So one of the things we began to work on, with journalist @BillBriouxTV was a report that identifies and talks about the shows in English Canada. What is linked is just a prototype, and still misses lots of shows, particularly in some categories like kids. But I think it’s worth sharing, if only so those that want to say TV is great or TV sucks, have some up to date shows to use to make their point.


What we asked Bill to do was do a cut of some of the more popular Canadian productions from three perspectives: 1) Domestic productions from Orphan Black to Murdoch Mysteries 2) foreign shows made in Canada like Suits and Once Upon a Time and 3) shows produced in geographic regions across Canada.

One of the reasons for the splits was to highlight that in addition to a lot of fan favorites there are economic benefits to productions. According to the latest numbers from Profile domestic overall production expenditure in 2013-14 was almost $6 billion and accounted for 125,400 full-time equivalent jobs. Breaking that down further, the spend on foreign productions like Suits generated $1.83 billion of the overall total and 39,500 FTEs. I was lucky to visit the set of Suits in Toronto last year and was blown away by the scale of the production. But what was even more interesting was that of the 200 talent and crew on set for that show, and most other big foreign productions like it, 90% were Canadians.

Canadian shows and feature film are not just made for Canadians anymore. Increasingly we are selling our productions to the world. Exports reached a ten year high in 2013/14, totally $2.5 billion.

Anyways as I said, it’s a prototype. We are missing some shows and whole genres because it’s a work in progress. And some of the shows may be new or since cancelled, like John Doyle’s favorite, Strange Empire. Hopefully whether you like many of our shows or not we can at least stick to 2014-15 for examples, as we debate. And that way next time some middle-aged white guy says “who’s ever heard of Bitten,” others like Kelly Lynne Ashton (@klashton27), Adam Barkin (@adambarken), or Denis McGrath (@heywriterboy), can respond that younger and/or female audience do and in great numbers. Who knows, a few people may get to watch stuff they have been missing. Have fun.


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