Coroner stars Roger Cross (left) and Serinda Swan

With American network schedules on life support this summer, time to bring in the Coroner.

The COVID pandemic has shut down production on many shows, and forced networks to push other series returns back until the fall. Usually exclusively in the export business, American networks have had to up their imports, including a reach across the border for this CBC procedural.

That’s sort of how star Serinda Swan figured it would go. The Vancouver-born actress’ career was already gaining traction in the U.S. through roles on HBO’s Ballers and Marvel’s short-lived superhero drama Inhumans on ABC. She also played Anne Bancroft on the first season of Ryan Murphy’s Feud at FX.

“It’s funny, when I made the decision that I was going back to Canada, my team sort of was like, ‘I’m sorry — what?'” Swan told reporters on a CW conference call last week. 

Swan was keen to play complicated Toronto coroner Jenny Cooper, and saw an oportunity to work both sides of the border should the CBC show eventually get picked up by an American network.

Coroner, after all, was created and executive produced by Morwyn Brebner, who managed to steer another Canadian-made drama, Rookie Blue, onto ABC’s schedule for five or six summers.     


“Part of the reason why I chose this show is because I saw that it had the potential to be able to do this,” says Swan, “and I wanted to be a part of the movement that shows Canadian television can compete with world television.”

Sure, Swan felt the urge to prove herself on a world stage, but she also wanted to “come back and invest in Canadian television.” She saw Coroner as a potential opportunity to do both.

Brebner is glad Swan came back and sees Coroner as a perfect combination of character and actress.

“I just loved Jenny,” she said on the CW call. “I felt like she was a real woman, vibrating at the speed of light. Shes tough, she’s experienced trauma in her life; she just goes forward, she’s fearless. I could feel her alive. And the way Serinda plays her…give her any kind of hard, scary thing to do and she does it.”

As for bringing a Canadian series to an American network, Brebner, who was also behind Saving Hope (briefly on NBC), says there’s no magic formula. “You always try to make the thing the best you can and then you really hope it resonates with other people,” she says. She does feel that setting Coroner so specifically in Toronto — a challenge in the past — turns out to be a real plus in importing this series.

“Toronto is such a multicultural, vibrant city right now. It really feels like a microcosm for the world. I feel like that travels really well and it travels all over the world and I think people can recognize themselves.”

Coroner premieres Wednesday night at 9/8 Central on The CW. The first two seasons can also be streamed now in Canada on CBC Gem. A third season will premiere on CBC in the new year.

Roger Cross co-stars with Swan as Detective “Mac” MacAvoy on the crime drama. In part thanks to production delays due to COVID,  he’s already seen the first five scripts and can hardly wait to get back to work.

Hear much more from Cross by following the link below to the podcast, where the veteran actor weighs in on a wide range of topics — including racial inequalities in television and even, as Cross points out, in hockey. Check him out here.


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