Front Page Challenge (FPC), the CBC game-interview TV program, was the longest-running of its kind in North America. Intended as a 13-week summer replacement for The Denny Vaughan Show, FPC first aired 24 June 1957. The show's format, created by John Aylesworth and Harvey Hart, required panelists to identify a mystery challenger, who represented - and was often the central figure in - a major news story. Over the years, challengers included six Canadian prime ministers, most provincial premiers of the day, and such diverse personages as Indira Gandhi, Sir Edmund Hillary, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Gordie HOWE, Igor GOUZENKO and Mary PICKFORD.
The introduction of one of the shows. From YouTube.
Beyond the impressive guest list, the show offered a distinctively Canadian interpretation of national and international events. Its base in entertainment rather than public affairs programming allowed it unusual latitude and fostered a unique credibility. The regular panelists - for many years Gordon SINCLAIR, Betty Kennedy and Pierre BERTON - built a reputation for intelligence and unedited spontaneity and, along with moderator Fred Davis, became national celebrities (Kennedy succeeded Toby Robins in 1962, while Allan FOTHERINGHAM replaced the deceased Sinclair in 1984). Toronto-based FPC toured most Canadian cities from St John's to Victoria to Yellowknife, always playing to sold-out houses.
FPC's final episode aired on 10 February 1995 and the program was cancelled officially by the CBC on 13 April 1995. In its final half-decade the show averaged 550,000 viewers, down from nearly 2 million in 1978. FPC fell victim to a rising number of new networks and talk shows that competed with CBC's programming, along with numerous other factors, such as the program's aging panel and viewer demographics, irregular schedule rotation, and rising costs of production.
Front Page Challenge Moderator Fred Davis and regular panellists Pierre Berton, Gordon Sinclair and Betty Kennedy were joined by guest panellist Lister Sinclair in this 28 November 1968 broadcast of the long-running CBC quiz show Front Page Challenge (courtesy CBC).
Front Page Challenge Beginning in 1957 as a summer replacement quiz show, Front Page Challenge ran for 38 years, ending in April 1995. The show attracted well-known guests from around the world, most of whom were in the news at the time. Shown here in the 1960s are regular panelists Gordon Sinclair, Pierre Berton, and Betty Kennedy, along with the host Fred Davis (standing).
MARK D.B. KENNEDY Rev: KIP JACKSON
A. Barris, Front Page Challenge (1981); A. Barris, Front Page Challenge: History of a Television Legend (1999).
Links to Other Sites The History of Canadian Broadcasting
This site is dedicated to the visionary pioneers who created Canada’s broadcasting industry. Features profiles of members of the CAB Hall of Fame and much more. From the Canadian Communications Foundation.
This profile of the acclaimed Canadian broadcaster Gordon Sinclair is from the "History of Canadian Broadcasting" website. Check out the sound clips of Gordon Sinclair.
Canadian Television Programming In English
A historical overview of Canadian television production and broadcasting. Focuses on news, current affairs, drama, comedy, children’s shows, sports, and more. Includes some comparisons with the US television industry. From the Museum of Broadcasting Communications in Chicago.
CBC Television Series, 1952-1982
Browse or search this complete listing of television programs produced in Canada and broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation between 1952 and 1982. From Queen's Department of Film and Media.
Front Page Challenge
A history of the long-running CBC Television panel show Front Page Challenge. From the website for the Museum of Broadcast Communications in the US.
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