Some follow up on the post earlier this week regarding the original Star Trek boldly going forth two days earlier in Canada than in the united States.
September 8 was celebrated on social media as “Star Trek Day” as it marked the 55th anniversary of the series launch on NBC in 1966. A reader of this site, Kevin Vahey, messaged to point out that the series actually started two days earlier, on Sept. 6, 1966, on CTV in Canada.
One man who was on the scene at CTV in 1966 was Philip “Pip” Wedge. The Executive Director of the Canadian Communications Foundation continues to provide valuable, first-hand accounts on the history of Canadian broadcasting.
Mr. Wedge had arrived in Canada two years before the Star Trek launch. A pioneer in British television broadcasting, he crossed the pond in 1964 to help develop game shows at then-fledgling CTV. He stayed in Canada and for many years was the private network’s vice-president, programming.
He was not, however, the man who imported Star Trek into Canada for CTV.
“It would have been Murray Chercover’s call on the annual buying trip to LA that year,” explained Wedge in an email. Chercover was for many years the president of CTV.
Wedge explains that Star Trek was a much bigger success in Canada than it ever was in the States, where it never ranked in the Top-50 most-watched shows and barely went forth into a third season.
Why did it do better north of the border? “We scheduled it earlier in the evening than they did, and got the younger audience,” explains Wedge. “We were sad when NBC cancelled it because their numbers were much lower comparatively.”
Indeed, Star Trek ran at 7:30 p.m. ET in Canada. Networks tended to program prime time a little earlier back then.
As for how a Canadian network beat a US network to viewers with an American series, it used to happen all the time, says Wedge.
“In those days we had to have the right of pre-release, because we always ran the risk of finding ourselves owning two and even three US shows that played in the same time period in the States, at the mercy of US networks’ rescheduling at any time. There was of course no sim-sub then. That came in in 1972.”