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CBC-TV unveils 'most ambitious, diverse' new broadcast, digital lineups

TV hosts Steven Sabados, right, and Jessi Cruickshank pose during the CBC season preview event in Toronto on Thursday, May 26, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Eduardo Lima
May 26, 2016 - 1:11 PM

TORONTO - CBC-TV unveiled its "most ambitious, diverse programming slate ever" on Thursday with a fall-winter lineup that is heavily Canadian and includes nine new original digital series, a new daytime show and a Mennonite mob drama.

Heather Conway, executive vice-president of English services, said the public broadcaster is "doing really well" with a growing radio listenership and programs that "have been very successful" across all of its platforms.

"For CBC to continue to build on our success, we must offer content on all of our platforms that is uniquely Canadian, different from our competitors, but also of the calibre that can compete with the best in the world — and I think we're doing just that."

Newly announced titles in the lineup include a daytime show featuring "Canada's Smartest Person" host Jessi Cruickshank, home decor guru Steven Sabados and two other yet-to-be-announced hosts. Set to launch in the fall, it marks Sabados's return to CBC daytime programming after last year's death of his husband and "Steven and Chris" co-star Chris Hyndman.

"We want it to be fun," said Cruickshank, who will be the fashion expert on the show, which will include a studio audience and guests.

"It's all about laughter and you've got to have a good time," added Sabados. "We want the viewer to have a smile on their face."

"Pure," which will premiere in early 2017, follows a newly-elected Mennonite pastor as he infiltrates the "Menno mob" in an effort to take down a powerful drug trafficking operation that stretches from Canada to Mexico.

Also announced Thursday was the animated children's series "Dot." produced by author Randi Zuckerberg, who is the sister of Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Previously announced new series set to launch later this year include "Kim's Convenience," based on Toronto playwright-actor Ins Choi's stage comedy-drama about a Korean-Canadian family and its convenience store. It's scheduled for a fall debut.

"Baroness von Sketch Show," coming this summer, is an all-female Canadian sketch comedy series focused on "the world's narcissistic contemporary culture." The cast includes Carolyn Taylor, Meredith MacNeill, Aurora Browne, and Jennifer Whalen.

Also coming this summer is "Four in the Morning," a comedy about the adventures of four 20-something friends before sunrise in Toronto. Stars include Lola Tash and Daniel Maslany.

In "Shoot the Messenger," slated for fall, Elyse Levesque stars as a young Toronto reporter who witnesses a murder and gets caught up in a web of crime that has corporate and political ties. Lyriq Bent co-stars as the lead homicide detective, Alex Kingston plays the editor and Lucas Bryant plays a co-worker.

Allan Hawco of "Republic of Doyle" fame stars as an escaped Nova Scotia prisoner in "Caught," which is based on Lisa Moore's Scotiabank Giller Prize-nominated novel. It's set for early 2017.

The Arctic is the setting for two shows: "True North Calling," premiering in the winter, and "The Council," set for fall.

And in "This is High School," debuting this fall, cameras follow students and their teachers at South Kamloops Secondary School in Kamloops, B.C.

Returning series include "Mr. D," "Dragons' Den," "Murdoch Mysteries," "Canada's Smartest Person," "X Company," "Rick Mercer Report," "Still Standing," "Exhibitionists," Heartland," "Hello Goodbye" and "This Life."

CBC also said it's investing in its largest slate of original digital programming to date, with series including "Coming In," from popular Canadian web series creators Kyle Humphrey and Graydon Sheppard. The new daytime series will also have what Cruickshank called a unique "fully interactive online portal."

"I think for us, digital is simply a part of how we think now," said Conway. "Ultimately, I think every media company has an obligation to build itself into a digital media company."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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