Sitting on the porch last night with the elder bull terrier, I fell into a YouTube rat hole of Canadian vintage TV. It started with a click on a promo for a Canadian-produced sci-fi series called The Starlost (starring 2001: A Space Odyssey‘s Keir Dullea) and a dig through the consumer show Live It Up before it evolved in a search other old Canadian TV shows.
1. Here Comes the 70s
I vaguely remember this future-centric CTV program for little more this racy opening…
…and for the futuristic synth-heavy theme song called “Tillicum” by a pioneering electronic band from Montreal called Syrinx.
2. The Hilarious House of Frightenstein
Kids across the country tuned in every weekend for this program (starring Billy Van, Billy Van, Billy Van, Billy Van, and Billy Van) produced out of CHCH-TV out of Hamilton. In addition by regular cameos by Vincent Price(!!!), Van played a series of horror characters and villains including The Count, The Librarian, and The Wolfman, an old-school DJ riffing on, yes, Wolfman Jack, except that–well, you know.
I’ll admit that The Wolfman stirred my early interest in radio. His shtick was to make some made jokes, take a request, put on an actual record (I can’t imagine the music was cleared by anyone) and then danced to the song against a swirly psych background that was inevitable invaded by Igor (pronounced Eye-gor), the Count’s extremely large henchman. Is this how radio worked? For a while, I thought it did.
3. Samantha Taylor on Video Hits
With the rise of the music video in the 1980s, every network had its own–and sometimes more than one–video show. CBC counter-programmed the very young MuchMusic with Video Hits.
4. Good Rockin’ Tonight with Stu Jeffries
And who could forget this evening music video program on CBC?
5. Toronto Rocks with John Majhor
If you grew up in Toronto, you ran home to see this after school show on CITY-TV.
6. The New Music
This remains the gold standard of music journalism not just in Canada but just about everywhere outside the BBC. Damn, the stuff I learned every week. The original opening featured Rush’s 2112 Overture as the opening theme…
…but later switched to using “Papa’s Got a Brand New Pigbag,” an instrumental by the British band Pigbag.
There are obviously a lot more memories out there. What have you got?