Canadian broadcast legend Patrick Watson dies at the age of 92

Patrick Watson has died, a broadcast legend whose work in the industry lasted more than five decades and helped create a fund of iconic Canadian content. He was 92 years old.

By working as a producer, author, television presenter and more, Watson helped shape the face of Canadian journalism, never avoiding controversy or difficult decisions.

Born in Toronto in 1929, Watson began his career playing Jake on CBC Radio’s daily children’s series The Kootenay Kid in 1943, a job for which he began earning $ 1 per episode.

He began an academic career, but in 1955 dropped out of a doctorate in linguistics at the University of Michigan to work at the CBC. Shortly afterwards, he presented the travel series The Four Corners in 1957, then began working both in front and behind the camera for various shows, such as The Watson Report (1975-1981), Witness to Yesterday (1974-1976). ). , as well as his 1998 rebirth), Venture (1985-1987) and The Struggle for Democracy (1989).

The struggle for democracy took five years to complete, was shot in 30 countries and was then the most expensive original documentary series ever made for Canadian television.

Laurier LaPierre, left, Dinah Christie, center, and Patrick Watson appear in a promotional photo for This Hour Has Seven Days on January 9, 1966. (Barry Wilson / CBC Still Photo Collection)

In 1964, Watson began work on one of the most influential shows of his career, This Hour Has Seven Days. The Sunday night show, which Watson presented alongside Laurier LaPierre and co-created with Douglas Leiterman, was an innovative public affairs series that attracted a million-dollar audience with its unrestricted style and opinion.

“They considered me a problem”

Based on the BBC program That Was The Week That Was, the series used a mix of documentary material, satire and original music by Canadian actor and singer Dinah Christie to review the week’s news and often discovering figures. influential. It ran for two years and aired 50 episodes before being canceled in 1966 due to its provocative nature, after which Watson spent several years as a freelance producer and journalist.

“I was considered a troublemaker,” Watson said in a 1981 interview with Maclean’s magazine of leaving CBC after the end of This Hour. “In part, he was a self-chosen exile from the CBC, but it was also true that I would not be hired. I was broken after having made a spectacular television show.”

Writer of Heritage Acts

Still, younger Canadians might have known him better as the lead writer behind the original Heritage Minutes, a one-minute series that sought to make Canadian history more accessible. Watson said the project, which has achieved legendary status in Canadian culture, was created to “convince Canadians that they have an interesting past.”

MIRAR | Charles Bronfman and Patrick Watson on the origins of Heritage Minutes:

Watson did return to CBC and became president from 1989, during which he presided over the controversial restructuring of the station in the 1990s. During this time, 1,100 employees were laid off and several stations closed due to a massive budget deficit.

He resigned from the presidency in 1994, although he published more work, such as the cover of The Canadians: Biographies of a Nation (a biographical series on History Television) and, later, a three-volume print edition. of this program.

“From his beginnings as a teen actor on CBC Radio’s The Kootenay Kid, to his historic career at CBC News and his time as chairman of the CBC / Radio-Canada Board of Directors, Patrick Watson’s contribution to the Canadian public broadcaster and its service to various fields was far-reaching, made a difference and will not be forgotten soon, “a CBC spokesman said of Watson’s death.

“Both at the CBC and beyond, Watson’s work as a broadcaster, producer, actor and author for five decades made him an icon of Canadian broadcasting and has left a legacy that will continue for decades to come. Our thoughts they are with their family and friends. “

MIRAR | Patrick Watson on the Art of Interviewing:

Patrick Watson and the Art of Interview

In 1978, Renaissance broadcaster and man Patrick Watson describes how he developed his interview technique.

Watson was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1981, and was later promoted to Companion in 2001 to promote “excellence in Canadian television and radio.” He was also a longtime advocate of disability after his leg was amputated below the knee in 1960, and was honorary president of the Canadian Amputee Sports Association and president emeritus of the Canadian Abilities. Foundation.

He later became an experienced rider, windsurfer, water skier, diver and magician; he had a lifelong love for the craft and was one of the three founding members of Magicana, a Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to the study of magic as a performing art.

He also published numerous novels, non-fiction books and a play: The 1983 Book of Job, a play by a man he starred in. As an actor, he appeared in the television films The Terry Fox Story (1983) and Countdown to the Mirror (1984); the films Bethune (1977) and The Fourth Angel (2001) and the series Slings and Arrows (2003). He published an autobiography, This Hour Is Seven Decades, in 2004.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *