CBC sets new dramas, builds on comedy slate, says goodbye to two titles for 2022-23

Plan B
The pubcaster's fall slate includes new Canadian drama Plan B, starring Karine Vanasse and Patrick J. Adams, but won't see the return of Coroner or TallBoyz.

Canadian dramas Plan B, Essex County and Bones of Crows are among the new series in CBC’s 2022-23 programming slate, which will build on last year’s big scripted comedy push but won’t see the return of police procedural Coroner or sketch series TallBoyz.

More than 40 original series and specials from Canadian storytellers were on the docket during CBC’s Upfront on Wednesday (June 1), with other new titles including Arctic thriller The North Water, Northern medical adventure Skymed, reality competition Canada’s Ultimate Challenge and factual entertainment series Bollywed.

Fresh drama series in the CBC slate include the 6 x 60-minute psychological drama Plan B, set for a winter 2023 premiere and created by Jean-Francois Asselin and Jacques Drolet. It’s an English-language adaptation of the Radio-Canada series produced by Montreal’s KOTV. Karine Vanasse (pictured left; Cardinal) and Patrick J. Adams (pictured right; Suits) star in the Montreal-set story of a man who uses time travel to try to save his relationship.

Essex County from First Generation Films is based on the graphic novel trilogy by Canadian comic book writer Jeff Lemire (Sweet ToothMoon Knight). The 5 x 60-minute limited family drama is set to premiere in winter 2023 with a story of “four disparate characters linked together through bloodlines.” The series was first announced as in development in 2015 and has been “a labour of love for” the pubcaster and a deeply personal story for Lemire, says Sally Catto, general manager of entertainment, factual and sports at CBC, in an interview with Playback Daily.

Filmmaker Marie Clements’ five-part Indigenous miniseries Bones of Crows, which follows a Cree matriarch as she survives Canada’s residential school system, is slotted for a 2023-24 premiere. The 5 x 60-minute generational drama, produced by Marie Clements Media, Screen Siren Pictures and Grana Productions, will premiere following the theatrical release of its film version in 2022-23. The series was commissioned by CBC/Radio-Canada in association with APTN and created by Clements.

CBC, Super Channel and Toronto’s Rhombus Media are all partners on The North Water as part of a copro with the BBC and the U.K.’s See-Saw Films that falls within the Canada/U.K. treaty. The 6 x 60-minute series premiered on Super Channel Fuse last September and will premiere on CBC this fall, starring Colin Farrell and Jack O’Connell in a story of an Arctic whaling expedition in 1859. “We cannot really do huge productions with budgets like audiences expect to see today without partners, so this one is a great one for us,” says Catto.

CBC also partnered with U.S. streaming service Paramount+ on medical drama Skymed from Piazza Entertainment, created by Julie Puckrin (X CompanyTransplant). The 9 x 60-minute series, featuring young First Responders in the remote North and filmed in Ontario and Manitoba last year, premieres this summer.

Catto says the upcoming slate is like a “sophomore year” for the slew of comedies that launched in the last year, including Sort Of (Sphere Media’s Sienna Films), Son of a Critch (Project 10 Productions), Run the Burbs (Pier 21 Films) and Strays (Thunderbird Entertainment), as they enter second seasons. “We’re really now letting those comedies grow and evolve and just continue to build,” she says.

Also building on that genre is new original factual series Comedy Night with Rick Mercer, an 8 x 60-minute Just For Laughs TV and Counterfeit Pictures series of one-hour standup comedy specials premiering this fall.

Premiering on CBC Gem this fall is the 10 x 30-minute comedy Fakes (Reality Distortion Field), which features two best friends who build a fake ID empire. Created by David Turko as a coproduction with Netflix, Catto says the series appeals to a younger demographic, which CBC is trying to capture on Gem, where there’s been “a significant increase in audience.”

Other returning comedies include Pretty Hard Cases (Cameron Pictures) with its third season, Workin’ Moms (Wolf + Rabbit Entertainment) with season seven, and the 30th anniversary of This Hour Has 22 Minutes (IoM Media).

Returning dramas include Heartland (Dynamo Films and SEVEN24 Films), Murdoch Mysteries (Shaftesbury), Moonshine (Six Eleven Media and eOne), and Diggstown (Circle Blue Entertainment, Freddie Films, and Waterstar Entertainment).

However, Coroner is not on the schedule after four seasons as star Serinda Swan “has decided not to return” to the show, says Catto. “She is going to focus on new creative endeavours, including directing, and so we’re discussing options with the producers at this point. That’s what I can say about that.”

Produced by Muse Entertainment, Back Alley Films and Cineflix Studios for CBC, Coroner has been nominated for numerous Canadian Screen Awards and has been licensed to around 150 territories, with acquisitions including The CW in the U.S., Netherlands media company Talpa Network, Sky Italia, and Italy’s Rai.

Meanwhile, TallBoyz (Accent Entertainment) has not been renewed after three seasons, the last of which swept the sketch comedy categories at the Canadian Screen Awards in April. Catto says the pubcaster is proud to have watched the stars grow over the past three years and looks “forward to working with that team in different ways in the future.”

Bruce McCulloch of The Kids in the Hall fame served as showrunner on TallBoyz, which starred Guled Abdi, Vance Banzo, Tim Blair, and Franco Nguyen. All three seasons of the series were acquired by U.S. pay TV channel Fuse in March.

On the factual side, Insight Productions (a Boat Rocker Company) and The Gurin Company are behind Canada’s Ultimate Challenge, an 8 x 60-minute format in which Canadians are mentored by six superstar coaches as they navigate a cross-country obstacle course of physical and mental challenges at iconic locations. It’s set to premiere in winter 2023 with coaches including Donovan Bailey, Waneek Horn-Miller, Clara Hughes, Gilmore Junio, Jen Kish and Luke Willson.

Also new is Bollywed (HeartHat Entertainment) featuring Singh family, who run a bridal shop in Toronto’s Little India. The 10 x 30-minute series is scheduled for a winter 2023 premiere.

Insight Productions is also behind the inaugural 90-minute telecast of The Legacy Awards from the Black Academy, which is also produced by Bay Mills Studios and will air Sept. 25.

Other new factual titles include CBC Gem original Lido TV, hosted by Colombian-Canadian musician and artist Lido Pimienta. The 6 x 20-minute variety show from Lido Pimienta TV/Visitor Media debuts this fall.

The 6 x 30-minute Stuff the British Stole from Wooden Horse, WildBear Entertainment and Cream Productions is a six-part series for the ABC and CBC. Based on journalist Marc Fennell’s ABC Podcast, which also launched by CBC Podcasts in fall 2021, the series premieres in winter 2023.

There will also be new seasons of Dragons’ Den, Family Feud Canada (Zone 3/Fremantle), The Great Canadian Baking Show (Proper Television/Love Productions), Race Against the Tide (marblemedia), Still Standing (Frantic Films) and Best in Miniature (marblemedia).

Original documentary programming includes the Canada-Russia hockey story series Summit ’72 (4 x 60 minutes; Mercury Films and Impossible Objects), premiering this fall; CBC Gem’s Stay Tooned from Fathom Film Group, which features cartoon voiceover artist Eric Bauza and debuts in winter 2023; and new seasons of The Passionate Eye, featuring Jennifer Baichwal’s doc Into the Weeds, and The Nature of Things.

On the CBC Kids side, new titles for preschoolers include the 27 x 2-minute and 1 x 11-minute animated musical Jeremy and Jazzy (Vérité Films), and the 39 x 7-minute Mittens and Pants (Windy Isle Productions and Thunderbird Entertainment). Both premiere this fall.

In a statement, CBC EVP Barbara Williams said “no other media company in Canada offers the remarkable range of homegrown storytelling that” CBC does, “fulfilling the opportunity for people in communities across the country to see themselves represented in new ways.”