Network: CBC Television Network
Broadcast Run: 1958 to 1985
Broadcast Medium: Television
Debuted on CBC TV on September 30, 1958. Aired weekdays until 1985.
One of the most beloved performers on CBC television was The Friendly Giant. Bob Homme, who played the character for nearly 30 years, has become to most kids of a certain generation an icon of Canadian children’s television.
The Friendly Giant was a 15-minute children’s program that aired from 1958 to 1985, every weekday morning. The premise was simple: the giant, played by Homme, welcomed children to his castle to enjoy stories, music and humour with his puppet friends.
Rod Coneybeare provided the voice and worked the puppets of Jerome the Giraffe and Rusty the Rooster, who interacted with Friendly on all kinds of stories and music. The format was scripted in the early years, but after establishing the show on CBC, Homme and Coneybeare would draft an outline and simply improvise around it. Most kids probably didn’t notice the difference, but they did enjoy the rapport Jerome and Friendly had on every show.
After starting out as a radio show, the program debuted on American Television in 1954, at WHA-TV in Madison Wisconsin. Its original purpose was to put young kids to bed, hence the quiet ending with the cow jumping over the moon at the end of the show. The presentation did not change when Homme brought the show to Toronto following a successful appearance on Junior Magazine in 1958.
When talking about children, Homme said, in 1969, that what was important for kids was to see adults enjoy learning. “I think the whole world is preoccupied by the concept of change,” he said. “But there are a lot of things that had better not change. And one of them is the concept of clarity and coherence.” The Friendly Giant never flinched from his intentions.
When Homme died in May of 2000, the story made front-page news in Canada and touched an entire generation of viewers from coast-to-coast. The set, costumes and puppets are on display at the CBC Museum in Toronto.
Robert [Bob] Homme as The Friendly Giant
Rod Coneybeare as the voices of Jerome the Giraffe and Rusty the Rooster
Theme song: Early One Morning.
Written by John Corcelli – April, 2002