Doyle hanging up guns after six years on CBC
TORONTO — CBC’s Republic of Doyle is set to wrap after its upcoming sixth season, but creator and star Allan Hawco says the end of the show had nothing to do with budget cuts at the struggling public broadcaster. Hawco said he and producers made the decision halfway through filming the fifth season because they were “tapped out creatively.” “We realized among ourselves that we had reached our conclusion,” said the Newfoundland-born actor in an interview. “We felt if we were lucky enough to get an order for season 6, let’s go out before someone else asks us to or our audience becomes fatigued.” The CBC announced its 2014-15 schedule at a flashy presentation Thursday morning, in which it relied on old favourites like Murdoch Mysteries and Dragons’ Den, while adding 12 new shows, including a female-driven western and a Second World War spy drama. Executive vice-president Heather Conway said the fall lineup reflects a “change of direction” at the CBC, which is reeling from a $115-million budget cut and the loss of Hockey Night in Canada to Rogers Media. “I am very optimistic about where we’re headed,” she said. “I know that in an instant-everything world, asking for your patience is probably unrealistic, but your support as we take a few risks and try some new things is very greatly appreciated.” Among the CBC’s new offerings is Camp X, from the creators of Flashpoint, about covert agents training on the shores of Lake Ontario. Inspired by true stories, it’s set to air next winter. In the fall, viewers can expect Strange Empire, featuring a group of female heroes — most of the men are mysteriously gone — set in 1869 along the Alberta-Montana border. Also announced was the animated series Pirate’s Passage, starring, produced and co-written by Donald Sutherland, and the miniseries The Book of Negroes, based on Lawrence Hill’s award-winning novel. The schedule will also feature Schitt’s Creek, a new half-hour comedy co-created and starring SCTV alum Eugene Levy and his son, Daniel Levy, as well as comedian Catherine O’Hara. Doyle, starring Hawco as charming Det. Jake Doyle in St. John’s, will conclude after a 10-episode season. The show’s ratings slipped last season after a move to Sunday nights, but it remained a strong draw for CBC. Sally Catto, executive director of commissioned and scripted programming, said while budget cuts have had numerous impacts at the CBC, they played no part in the decision to end Doyle. Catto said the CBC is “definitely not playing it safe,” pointing to shows like Camp X, Strange Empire and Schitt’s Creek as examples of edgy, Canadiandriven series that wouldn’t make it onto a private broadcaster. “I would argue it’s the perfect time to take risks. When you’re under this high pressure, sometimes the best creativity comes out of it. This is our opportunity to really reset. We don’t have hockey anymore. We have to think differently in terms of financing and in terms of partnering,” she said. International shows bound for the public broadcaster include Australia’s Secrets and Lies and the BBC’s The Honourable Woman, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal. Canada’s Smartest Person, a game show testing Canadians’ intelligence in unusual ways, will air Sunday nights, hosted by Jessi Cruickshank and CBC Radio One’s Jeff Douglas. Comedian Jonny Harris will adventure through small-town Canada in Of All Places, putting on original standup comedy routines based on what he learns about the town. CBC announced in April it would cut some 657 jobs, including 133 journalists, over two years, blaming a budget shortfall on poor TV ratings, a softened advertising market and stiff competition from private rival networks.
Allan Hawco in CBC’s Republic of Doyle.