Network: CTV Television Network
Broadcast Run: 1971 to 1972
Broadcast Medium: Television
The song was a major hit for Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, and the television series featured the group on a studio-built riverboat, ‘captained’ by comedian Billy Van. The First Edition trotted out hits like “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” and “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition was In)”, with weekly appearances by Canadian and U.S. guests of the calibre of the Beach Boys, Dr. Music and the Carpenters.
The series was a spin-off from a one-hour 1970 special, Al Hirt Meets the First Edition. Hirt was not available for the series, but Kenny Rogers and his group proved strong enough to headline on their own, aided by a strong guest line-up.
“Rollin’ on the River” debuted in CTV in September 1971 as a one-hour series at 7:00pm on Saturday nights. In the 1972 season the title was abbreviated to just “Rollin'”, and the show’s length to a half-hour, this time on Mondays at 7:30pm, where it lasted for just one season. It was produced at the CFTO studios in Toronto.
This series, like many which came into the CTV schedule during this era, was a co-production with Winters-Rosen in the U.S. While including enough elements to qualify as Canadian content, it enabled the US partners to access the early evening local station time periods which could no longer be programmed by the US networks, under the recently-introduced “Prime Access Rule”.
Written by Pip Wedge – April, 2002