CTV ups its order for Degrassi

Despite its lukewarm ratings this year, CTV has ordered 24 new episodes of the teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation, up from 19 last year.

‘It’s wonderful. It will allow us to develop new characters and explore some new issues. It’s really thrilling,’ says Epitome Pictures executive producer Stephen Stohn. Although Stohn won’t reveal any upcoming storylines, he teases that season seven will bring ‘a big event which will require the influx of new characters.’

The first half of the sixth season, which started in November and ended in early January, only drew an average of 500,000 viewers (2+, nationwide) to its Tuesday night timeslot. The previous year the show attracted an average of 767,000 viewers. Degrassi is thought to be pulling in fewer viewers because CTV premiered it in the fall, when American networks launch their big shows.

This year’s remaining seven episodes will be in a different timeslot — Wednesday at 9:30 — just after American Idol, which Stohn believes is ideal. ‘We couldn’t ask for anything better than to be on at that time.’ But fans be warned, CTV may move it again in season seven, says Stohn.

Brendon Yorke, who took over from James Hurst in the second half of season six, will be the showrunner. Hurst has just had a new baby and remains with the show as a story consultant, says Stohn. This spring, Epitome will also release two new books of its ‘Extra Credit’ line of Degrassi graphic novels penned by writer J. Torres

Epitome and CTV also plan to create more ‘mangasodes’ to accompany the TV show. The short web-based cartoons that take their name from Japanese-style comic books debuted on ctv.ca in February. The seventh season of D:TNG will go to camera in early April.