Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems to be everywhere. Running behind a group of students prepping for their prom in Vancouver, kayaking up to supporters outside their cottage … I almost expect to see him in line with me at Starbucks. So, it’s nice to see Sophie Grégoire Trudeau getting some airtime as well, as one of several guests on TVO’s newest kid’s series Canada Crew.
Created by Ben Mazzotta and executive-produced by Maria Kennedy, Canada Crew—debuting Monday—is part of the public broadcaster’s Summer of Canada lineup that includes Opie’s Home and Kid Diners; both of those series bow on Tuesday. Mazzotta and Kennedy were meeting with Marney Malabar, TVO’s director of kids TV, to go over ideas for Now You Know when she asked for content tied to Canada’s 150th birthday. The independent producers batted around ideas in the car ride home.
“We were saying, ‘What if we did this? What if we did that?'” Mazzotta recalls. “We came up with an idea that morphed into what we see now.”
“We went with our strengths,” Kennedy says. “We know puppets through Now You Know and having high-profile guests on a show. We wrote a concept based on that.” Canada Crew‘s puppet hosts are Bebe the Beaver, Mo the Moose and Gavin the Canada Goose; the trio travels to every province and territory introducing kids the things that make Canada what it is: people and places, food, pastimes, animals and nature, and the national anthem. Big-name guests in the 26 seven-minute instalments include, aside from Trudeau, celebrity chef Susur Lee, hockey great Darryl Sittler, Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden, WE Day founder Craig Kielburger and Major Indira Thackorie of the Royal Canadian Air Forces Snowbirds team.
“Bebe is excited by everything,” Mazzotta says. “She’s precocious, she’s really funny, energetic and not afraid of anything. Mo is a little more cautious, studious and uses an iPad to research facts. And Gavin is a little more of a bumbling character, falling and tripping and forgets he can fly.” Together, they aim to educate viewers not only about the history of this country and what makes us unique from the rest of the world but to entertain too.
Canada Crew airs at 8:20 a.m. ET and 2:30 p.m. ET on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on TVO Kids and is available on TVOKids.com.
Images courtesy of TVO.