CBC Television Network


Network: CBC Television Network

Broadcast Run: 1959 to 1962

Broadcast Medium: Television

Aired Sunday nights for four seasons from July 1959 to June 1962.

Sunday evenings have traditionally been information nights on CBC television. This program, which pre-dates This Hour Has Seven Days, looked at the week’s stories in more detail. As CBC said at the time, they “thought there must be a number [of viewers] who are not as well versed on the background of the topics selected”. Consequently Background replaced This Week in the Sunday night time-slot. Cliff Solway produced the first season.

In its first year, Background was hosted by Rick Hart, a political science professor from the University of Saskatchewan. Unfortunately he had little broadcasting experience, so after the 59/60 season, more familiar journalists and commentators were on the show. These included Michael Maclear, Alistair Cooke, Malcolm Muggeridge, Robert Fulford and Philip Deane. One notable documentary during its run was by William L. Shirer, based on his book, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

The program featured stories on Latin America, Israel, Southeast Asia, Europe and the changing face of the United Nations.

The Critical Years, produced by Douglas Leiterman, closed out its final two seasons. Leiterman later went on to produce This Hour.

Written by John Corcelli – May, 2005