This Hour Has Seven Days

Iconic CBC television show from the mid 1960s.1 Inspired by David Frost’s BBC show “That Was the Week That Was”2 (which also spawned an American version of the same title), This Hour Has Seven Days (THHSD) had the same innovative mix of news, satire and entertainment, all in the guise of a public affairs review of the news of the week.

Cheeky hosts Patrick Watson3 and Laurier Lapierre4 represented the young, hip, bicultural and irreverent new spirit of mid-60s Canada, while singer Dinah Christie set the latest controversy to satiric words and music.

The show mercilessly skewered everyone from American white supremacists to hapless Canadian politicians. The latter group was unused to public mockery – especially from Canada’s state-owned broadcaster. One memorable episode, during the height of the Gerda Munsinger Scandal,5 had reporter Larry Zolf knocking on the door of Associate Defence Minister Pierre Sevigny’s home (Sevigny was the central political figure in the scandal), only to have the minister’s door open a crack – and Sevigny’s cane (he was a wounded WWII veteran) rain down blows on the journalist.6

All the controversy – THHSD was cited frequently Question Period – in proved too much for the faint souls of the CBC. They cancelled the popular show after 50 episodes and 2 seasons. But like the Avro Arrow, the THHSD myth only grew following the cancellation – it became a symbol of courageous, iconoclastic, empowering public affairs journalism.

THHSD, like its cousin That Was the Week That Was, were essentially forerunners of the political satire shows now so prevalent on television across the democratic world. In Canada, the show “This Hour Has 22 Minutes7 is obviously a play on – and a tip of the hat to – its 1960s antecedent.

Image Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia

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  • EddieMarriage

    Bicultural? Hardly.

    I remember the ’60s, man. Young francophones in Montreal may well have been ‘bicultural’, widely speaking their second language, but the same could not be said of Torontonians.

    When push came to shove, anglos spoke only English, and when Torontonians and Montrealers were in the same room, there was this natural expectation that English be spoken. No one even questioned that.

    There may have been the odd token tip of the hat to the “other” language in the room, with one of the Torontonians nervously blurting out a broken and hesitant “bonjour” as his Montreal colleagues arrived for the meeting (followed by the Torontonian’s beaming smile, so full of himself that he actually spoke a French word; how nice) — but that was it.

    I think you’re guilty of some wishful thinking, of what it was like back then. It was definitely not ‘bicultural’.