Looking for “Truth” on TV? Find it on Yes TV

Host Bud Collyer (centre) stands behind panelists Tom Poston, Peggy Cass, Orson Bean and Kitty Carlisle

Are you like me? Do you like black & white TV shows from the ’50s and ’60s?

Yes TV — a Burlington, Ont.-based channel offering a mix of family fare and religious programming — offers a bundle of classic TV panel shows tucked way up in the week hours. Tune in Monday through Saturday from 1 a.m. till 4 a.m. (or, better yet, set your PVR) and you can see To Tell the Truth, What’s My Line and I’ve Got a Secret in all their black & white glory.

A few years back, GSN had a similar programming strategy it called “Black and White Overnight.” What makes this package of Goodson-Todman goodies an even better find for fans of TV’s “Golden Age” is the inclusion of vintage TV commercials as part of the mix. You can watch such Don Draper-like sales pitches as Sleep-Eze: “Effective as phenobarbital  yet no  drug hangover, no drug habit,” and new Aerowax with jet age plastic: “shine so tough you can grind heels on it.”

Vintage ads are a Buzzr bonus

Hosted by bow tie wearing Bud Collyer, the original run of To Tell the Truth (1956 – 68) featured likable panelists Tom Poston, Orson Bean, Peggy Cass and Kitty Carlisle with Johnny Carson sitting in on the shows I watched this week. Their task was to quiz three people all claiming to be the same person. At the end, the real so-and-so was asked to stand up.

There was a Canadian version produced in Agincourt in the early days of CFTO in Toronto. It ran from 1962 – 64. My mother, Margaret, wrote in and got her big TV break as one of the impostors, posing as a dietitian. I think she got one or two votes and won fifty bucks.

Maybe six-years-old at the time, I was brought along to the studio taping. I have a vague memory of being coaxed down from the bleachers to hit two notes on a piano sitting next to Canadian host Don Cameron. He may be somewhat responsible for a life spent chronicling television.

The other lesson learned that day was that lying pays. Thanks, mom!

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