CBC looks to build on strong fall

Layfield moves Sophie and Mosque to Mondays, building CBC's comedy block with new arrival Being Erica.

Kirstine Layfield says CBC has momentum going into this year’s winter season – thanks to solid performances in the fall by its returning shows – and in the new year will look to make gains with two new dramas and the second installment of the reality show The Week The Women Went.

On Monday, the pubcaster unveiled the details of its winter slate, a time of year that traditionally sees the Ceeb roll out its best bets, pushing home-made dramas and comedies just as the private nets settle into the mid-season doldrums. But the network has been more aggressive than usual this fall, pushing its returning and now-reliable hits like Little Mosque on the Prairie and The Hour.

Layfield says that’s paid off, pointing to the strong performance of Dragon’s Den and Rick Mercer Report, which premiered in the 700,000 to 800,000 range in September, buoyed by the newly acquired lead-in Jeopardy!, weeknights at 7:30 pm (All numbers 2+). ‘The US shows are not actually doing that well… and we don’t think we’re facing the competition that we used to,’ she says.

But by the start of the winter season, Dragon’s Den will end its run and leave big shoes to fill when Mosque and Sophie move to Mondays for what Layfield calls ‘scripted comedy night.’ They’ll be followed at 9 pm by the new comedy drama Being Erica, which takes over from The Border beginning Jan. 5.

The 13-ep series follows a woman played by Erin Karpluk (The L Word) who relives her past courtesy of a mysterious therapist played by Michael Riley (This is Wonderland). The series is produced by Toronto’s Temple Street Productions (How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?).

On Tuesdays, Mercer and This Hour Has 22 Minutes will be joined by the Calgary-shot drama Wild Roses, from Toronto’s Northwood Productions and Alberta’s Seven24 Films (Heartland, Mayerthorpe). The show about families struggling for wealth and power in Alberta’s oil industry will settle into the 9 pm slot beginning Tuesday, Jan. 6, as The Tudors bows out.

Layfield is bullish on the new shows and CBC’s prospects this winter. Last year the net got a boost courtesy of the US writers’ strike, which left the private networks airing reruns, and the effects are still being felt.

‘American shows haven’t really caught a lot of people’s attention, so we still have an opportunity to field attention to Canadian programming,’ she maintains.

And while Layfield confirms that both Wild Roses and Being Erica will be activated with integration deals, she would not comment on details. Members of CBC’s Media Sales & Marketing and Marketing & Integrated Sales departments are also mum on the details.

One of CBC’s top-rated shows last winter, the reality The Week the Women Went, returns for its second installment on Wednesdays at 8 pm. The eight-ep run follows the goings-on in a small town after the women disappear, leaving the men to fend for themselves and their families. It will be replaced by a new edition of Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister in March.

The winter will also see a handful of MOWs, including a series of Miss Marple murder mysteries, Booky’s Crush – the third MOW based on the Booky novels – and the 9/11-themed Diverted.


From Playback Daily