Although initially a ratings winner, RFTT always generated controversy. Its proponents maintained that the program gave positive exposure to students who were academically proficient; but its opponents, such as Winnipeg writer Heather Robertson, suggested that RFTT"continues to ram home the most deadly kind of memory work." By 1983, CBC surveys indicated that RFTT had lost its teenage audience. Only 12% of the audience was 18 or under while more than half was 55 and over. When steps were instituted to cancel the program the CBC received 800 letters and petitions of protest, representing about 4000 people. After MP Bud Cullen rose in the House to urge the CBC to save this "all-Canadian young people's show," the program was reprieved, but only temporarily. CBC dropped RFTT in 1985. A French version of the program, Génies en Herbe, continued on Radio-Canada until 1997.
Author COLIN MACLEAN