Network: CTV Television Network
Broadcast Run: 2003 to 2008
Broadcast Medium: Television
While British television series have had limited success in North America outside public broadcasting systems like TVO and PBS, many British program formats have proved eminently adaptable to North American tastes. All In The Family was an early example. After the turn of the century, reality programming began to make a comeback in North America, spearheaded by Americanized UK series such as The Weakest Link and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? The latter spawned two one-hour Canadian Millionaire specials, but no series.
2002 saw another British format, Pop Idol, become a major ratings success in the U.S.: this was the talent search show, American Idol. In 2003, CTV began its own search for a Canadian Idol, and the resultant 25 1/2 hours of programming in the summer of 2003 set new ratings records and had the whole country debating the relative merits of finalists 24-year-old Ryan Malcolm (the eventual winner) and 20-year-old Gary Beals, with popular and charismatic Billy Klippert in third place. Over three million votes were cast by viewers of the final program.
The series made a star of Ben Mulroney, son of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and of the judging panel: Jake Gold, Sass Jordan, Zack Werner and Farley Flex. It was produced in association with CTV by John Brunton at Insight Productions, and its stylish flair reflected Brunton’s many years of creative television production, much of it for CTV. It was scheduled on Mondays and Tuesdays between June 9th and September 16th 2003.
Canadian Idol continued as a summer hit for CTV with new series each year, with the same host and panel. The sixth season began on June 3rd 2008, and introduced a new cast member, Jully Black, who had taken home the award for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year for her chart-topping album “Revival” at the 2008 Juno Awards. Jully’s role was described as “….mentor, confidant, critic, coach and voice of the people to Idol competitors”, as well as being used to give viewers at home a behind the scenes look at the show.
In December 2008, and despite the success of the series, the economic climate at the time prompted CTV to announce their intention to put Canadian Idol on a one-year hiatus. This meant there would be no Canadian Idol series in the summer of 2009.
The series never did return to the schedule, and in an interview with the Toronto Star in 2013, Bell Media Senior Vice-President of Programming Mike Cosentino said that some comeback ideas had been bandied about, but ultimately the network had decided that they didn’t want to ‘cheat’ viewers with a compromised version of the show.
Written by Pip Wedge – June, 2013