Year Born: 1914
Year Died: 2000
McFee, Allan (1914-2000)
Allan McFee spent more than 52 irrepressibly disrespectful years with the CBC. The CBC had its debut in 1936 and he joined the announce staff in 1937. He officially retired in 1985 but continued to host his long-term Eclectic Circus and to work as an announcer on The Royal Canadian Air Farce and the satiricalMax Ferguson Show. His final Eclectic Circus broadcast was in September 1989.
He was a rebel who mocked and infuriated the establishment, including his bosses. They also infuriated him. Max Ferguson recounted in a CBC interview after Allan’s death that Allan was known for hating an awful lot of people at CBC, “but he hated the right people.”
More than one book tells a story of Allan running a hose from his car’s exhaust into what he thought was the window of a fellow CBC announcer whom he disliked. Later he found it was the wrong window. Max talked of Allan throwing axes down hallways and embedding at least one in a wall, and turning fire hoses on.
Max said one manager asked Allan why he acted the way he did. Allan told the manager he wanted to see how much he could get away with.
In the 50s, he appeared opposite Max Ferguson’s equally demented character Rawhide. Allan’s Eclectic Circus, whose music, musings and mutterings suited the show’s title, lasted for 17 years. It ran six times a week until 1985, then weekly.In the show he would converse with an imaginary mouse, which he called the “small grey presence”, and which he said lived in his pocket.
Allan was born in Belleville, Ont. Despite his never-ending public war with the CBC, he spent his entire career with the corporation and said in one of his final broadcasts, “It’s a heavenly way to live.”
In 1969-70 he appeared on Bruno Gerussi’s show Gerussi as a satirical Captain Canada who indulged in crazy adventures and mocked the Canadian establishment. In a takeoff of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, his Captain Canada advised Western Canadians: “Think bilingual thoughts. Be bicultural in your daily life. Speak in two languages out of both sides of your mouth. Remember, Canada is more than just a country…it’s a branch plant.”
His audiences, whom he addressed as “all those out there in vacuum land,” apparently loved him.
Allan McFee died in 2000.
Written by Jerry Fairbridge – April, 2003