The quote is from (1st) CEO Thomas Ranald (Ran) Ide, in his bedroom on September 27, 1970 waiting for his ‘baby’ to appear on a television screen. The ‘baby’ was Canada’s first educational television channel (ETVO) that Mr. Ide had paintakingly guided to that Sunday afternoon 47 years ago.
Television critic PATRICK SCOTT wrote “The result starting at 2pm, and running flawlessly for three-and-a-quarter hours was a triumphant Day One for the great experiment expected to revolutionize both television and education in Ontario!”
And revolutionize it, TVOntario (originally ETVO) did and continues to do.
Looking back nearly a half-century there’s so much TVO visual and print material available a short summary is impossible. But here are a few highlights from this great, non-commerical cultural institution, TORONTO-based, funded by the provincial government and donations from business and the public. It’s still lookin’ pretty fine.
<‘The Polka Dot Door’, based on the BBC series ‘Play School’ ran for several decades. Polkaroo (the tall one above) became the network’s mascot.>
<Comedian MARTIN SHORT starred on ‘Behind The Fridge’, a half-hour Friday night show with a weird title.>
<Canada’s former Secretary of State JUDY LAMARSH had her own hour-long live talk show, Sunday Nights>
<‘Today’s Special’ above and ‘Telefrancais’ below, a series starring a pineapple. There were puppets eveywhere. From the very beginning TVOntario specialized in quality children’s television and continues to do so. Countless numbers of these shows were sold at home and abroad.>
<‘Saturday Night at the Movies’ and ‘Magic Shadows’, hosted by the inimitable ELWY YOST, were ratings winners for decades. Mr. Yost – who loved everything about Hollywood – became a top TVO personality. Annually he filmed interviews in Los Angeles, and TVO donated these priceless conversations to the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences.>
<Rainer Schwartz of “Night Music”, on-air every weeknight, played the latest music dj style and interviewed those who created it. You might say Rainer was running his own music channel.>
TVO programming has been sold to most Canadian provinces, a number of American states and several European countries. The broadcaster has accumulated a goodly stash of awards.
Today, children’s programming remains #1, but there’s a generous helping of documentaries, feature films, public affairs, technology (and a whole department) focused on education and all that entails. No commercial breaks either.
For information on TVOntario, its history and today’s programming, go to their website – http://www.tvo.org
TVOntario’s province-wide coverage – ONTARIO occupies an area of 415,000 square miles (or 1 million square kilometres), population 12 million. By comparison, TEXAS (area 269,000 square miles or 696,000 square kilometres), population 27 million. To drive from east to west in the province takes the better part of two days.
The late T. RAN IDE, TVOntario’s first CEO, published this book in 1995 about the network’s earliest days. ‘The Transparent Blackboard” contains several rare photographs and provides all you’d want to know about this Ontario television success story. It’s available on Amazon.