Reality gives way to comedy on CBC – but Blades will be back

18 to Life teams with Little Mosque against House, while reunited Kids in the Hall face American Idol. CBC announces Battle of the Blades will be back next fall.

Kirstine Stewart hopes that comedy will fill the gap left behind by reality when CBC switches to its winter schedule, revealed Tuesday at network headquarters in Toronto, led by new arrivals Republic of Doyle and 18 to Life.

Realities like Battle of the Blades and Dragons’ Den did well for CBC’s fall prime-time lineup – its strongest in five years. But, as usual, with January and the lull of programming on its competitors, CBC is pushing new and returning scripted programs.

‘Scripted is always the most difficult to break ground with, so to give it its best chance, we’ve got to give it its easiest shot, and I believe a January start is a more nurturing opportunity for them,’ says Stewart.

18 to Life, the Galafilm and Sound Venture co-pro about the sudden marriage of two teen lovers, will follow Little Mosque on Mondays at 8:30 p.m., facing Global’s consistent time-slot winner House. Likewise, the tough Tuesday slot will see the eight-part mini Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town air at 9 p.m. opposite CTV winter hit American Idol - though Stewart points out that the shows have different target audiences.

The audience for the reunited comedy troupe ‘skews a bit older,’ she notes. ‘A lot of us in our 30s and 40s grew up with them - so this is not a teenybopper show.’

Doyle, billed as a dramedy about a father-and-son detective team, has the strongest lead-in with Dragons’ Den on Wednesdays, where it will air at 9 p.m. following the hit reality which will airing in both the fall and winter for the first time. (Dragons is averaging 1.7 million viewers so far this year.)

The newbie shows join other returning staples The Rick Mercer Report, This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Heartland.

The winter will also include the usual movies and specials including Love Letters, described as a one-hour exploration of love and hosted by Gordon Pinsent; Test the Nation I.Q.; and the two-part movie Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story, documenting the life of the popular hockey commentator on March 28 to 29.

Meanwhile, action series The Border will close out its season on Jan. 7 and 14, to be replaced by Doc Zone. Daytime series Steven and Chris also premieres its new season in the winter.

The network has also announced the return of Blades for fall 2010. Averaging 1.749 million viewers (2+) per show over its 14-episode run this fall, the series concluded Monday, Nov. 16 with an unconfirmed viewership of 1.736 million. Season one sponsors included Danone, Artistry Brands, McDonald’s and Kruger Products through co-branded vignettes, the DanActive Warm-up Zone, the Artistry Style Studio and in-house signage at Maple Leaf Gardens. The network promises that even more customized opportunities will be available for season two, and more information on those opportunities will be available this winter, a spokesperson for CBC said yesterday.

From Playback Daily