by Ralph Lucas – Publisher
(October 5, 2022 – Toronto, ON) You need to be of a certain age to remember the highly successful CBC series The Beachcombers. It went off the air in 1990. But it had been on the air since almost exactly 50 years ago, October 1, 1972. Back before there were more channels than anybody could use, the series regularly grabbed more than a million viewers each week. To say it was one of the most successful Canadian television series of all time is a bit of an understatement. The 30-minute show, shot on film, ran for 387 episodes. It was named one of Canada’s all-time best television series in a 2017 poll conducted by the Toronto International Film Festival. And now there just might be a reboot, but this time it will be animated.
Created by L.S. Strange and Marc Strange, the idea to launch an animated version comes from industry veterans Blair Peters and Nick Orchard.
“We are super excited to bring these iconic Canadian characters to a whole new audience”, said Peters, best known for his work on award-winning series such as Yvon of the Yukon, Being Ian and Kid vs Kat. He loved cartoons as a kid and attended Sheridan College in Oakville, known for its animation program. His first job at Crawley Films in Ottawa before moving to Vancouver to start up Studio B Productions with his colleague, Chris Bartleman. The studio went on to produce over 1000 half hours that sold to over 100 countries worldwide on networks such as Disney, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Teletoon, YTV and the BBC. After 20 years in business that saw the Studio receive numerous awards, the pair sold the company to media giant DHX Media in 2007. Blair stayed with the company until 2011. He now consults for creators and develops series of his own.
Nick Orchard worked on the original series and brings over 30 years of experience to this new project, have inked a deal with the show’s original creators. The team is fleshing out designs and concepts in the coming months with a plan to pitch the series to Canadian, US and European broadcasters in Spring 2023. “The goal is to take all the best parts of the original series and build on them to tell stories with humour and heart, while tackling real issues the world faces today”, said Orchard, who has been in the film and television business for over half a century. He was a child actor on stage, radio and TV, and grew up to produce hits like The Beachcombers (CBC), Eastenders (BBC) and Brookside (Channel 4). For more than 30 years he has been the head of Soapbox Productions Inc., producing network series such as the popular teen drama Northwood as well as producing and directing award-winning documentaries and comedy series such as the iconic Double Exposure for CTV and the Comedy Network.
It is too early to predict who will get to be the voices of the various characters. Bruno Gerussi played Nick Adonis, Robert Clothier played Relic and Pat John played Jesse Jim. Rae Brown played Molly Carmody, who ran the local restaurant, Molly’s Reach.
Now, in the universe of 500+ channels, the chances of the animated Beachcombers being successful is very likely. The original series was broadcast in over 35 countries and adapted into numerous languages, which is lot easier to do with animation.
Ralph Lucas is the founder and publisher of Northernstars.ca. He began writing about film and reviewing movies while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s