Everything about Frankie Drake Mysteries, eh?

Frankie Drake Mysteries: Rebecca Liddiard previews Season 4 and joining the writer’s room

The arrival of Season 4 of Frankie Drake Mysteries brings changes. When viewers tune in this Monday at 9 p.m. on CBC, they’ll notice a couple of things. As the show advances further into the 1920s the wardrobe and hair sported by Frankie (Lauren Lee Smith), Trudy (Chantel Riley), Mary (Rebecca Liddiard) and Flo (Sharron Matthews) are changing to reflect that. So, too, are the characters themselves, with professional advancement for Flo and personal for Trudy, Frankie and Mary.

Changes were afoot behind the scenes on Frankie too, something I learned while speaking to Rebecca Liddiard. She joined the Frankie Drake Mysteries writer’s room in Season 4, which she and I discussed, along with upcoming storylines and the upcoming animated series Mary and Flo: On the Go!

How did COVID-19 affect the filming of Frankie Drake?
Rebecca Liddiard: I actually found, overall, it didn’t really change very much. I’m sure there was a lot more going on behind the scenes, but from our perspective, yeah, we had to wear masks, we had to check in and have our temperature checked every day. There’s a lot more hand sanitizer, but other than that, you know, it seems to me like business as usual. Every once in a while there was a moment of panic. You know, there’s a lot of people in a room or, you know, there’s a lot of, it seems like things are getting relaxed, there are people without masks on, but for the most part, everyone is trying to keep each other safe, no one wanted to get sick. So once we get settled into that, you know, we’re off to the races.

Do you know whether any storylines changed as a result of the pandemic and you filmed outdoors more often than in the studio?
RL:  I do, because I was also a part of the writing team here. I co-wrote an episode with [showrunner] Peter Mitchell, actually.

So I was privy to a few of the changes that were made. It was pretty basic things, like the number of people in the scene had to be reduced. The thinking was, if there were four people in this scene, then there can be three people. If there are three people, then there can be two people. There was a lot more dialogue between two people and the scenes got extended. We also had more recurring characters this year, which seems a bit strange. But when you think about it, it just meant that we could put these actors on hold and ask them not to do other jobs and they were coming in regularly. So we just kind of expanded that core group of people that we had trust with.

Was being part of the writing team on Frankie Drake a result of Mary and Flo: On the Go? Did Mary and Flo: On the Go come first and then the episode?
RL: I had an idea for an episode last season and I spent a couple of weeks coming up with a treatment. I went to Pete and I said, ‘I’ve got an idea, what do I do?’ He said, ‘Give me your idea.’ So I did, and they kind of sat on it for a while. That would have been like August, September, and then during this time, Mary and Flo started developing. So right when we started the writer’s room on Mary and Flo, which was early March, I had just found out that indeed I was going to be joining the writing team on Frankie. Within a week I suddenly found myself being a writer.

Has writing been something that you wanted to do and that you’ve been doing while you’ve been acting?
RL: I’ve always been a writer. Honestly, I never thought it would be something that I would do professionally. If anything I have this kind of dream of maybe getting into directing someday and I never really thought about writing. And then I had this idea for Frankie and it turned out to have some legs and everyone was really excited about it. It was like, ‘Oh, I think I can do this. I know how mysteries work. Surprise, surprise. I’ve only been doing it for four years now.’ It was a good surprise for me. I mean, it was difficult. It was a very steep learning curve, but Pete Mitchell was my co-writer and he was a great mentor and he made it pretty easy. He was very supportive and let me do my thing and solve my own problems. When I got really stuck, he jumped in and got me unstuck. It’s kind of opened up this door that I didn’t realize it was there.

Let’s get into Mary and Flo. You and Sharron co-created this. It is nine episodes of seven minutes each. Is that right?
RL: Yes.

Was it the result of the two of you just kicking around ideas while you were at craft services or just in between takes?
RL: Pretty much just what you described. I mean, on Frankie, Mary and Flo have a habit of going off and doing kind of these sort of side ventures that supplement the story, and which Sharron and I love, and over the years we’ve kind of increasingly made meals at these adventures that will go on and we just thought, ‘You know, we’re kind of joking around, but it would make a really fun cartoon. Like what if these adventures were like proper adventures?’ There’s a third co-creator named Carmen Albano. He was our prop master. He worked on props on Frankie and he came up with the first session of the first images of Mary and Flo.

We finally sat down around this time last year and we’re like, ‘Let’s talk about this what could this be?’ Carmen has created a couple of really successful children’s shows. Sharron and I had all these ideas and Carmen was the one who really helped focus them and helped give us that structure. The three of us made a really, really great team.

What can people expect when they tune in to watch Mary and Flo: On the go?
RL: Each episode, Mary and Flo go on an adventure and in Season 1, we kept it all to Canada. That doesn’t mean they can’t go to other places, we just found lots to do in Canada for this season, and they meet a historical figure. Sometimes it’s a historical figure who’s well-known—for example, we meet Lucy Maud Montgomery in one episode—and sometimes it’s historical figures that are lesser-known, but we would argue equally as important or as influential or exciting to Canadian history and they help this person solve a mystery or solve a problem. Our show is history, mystery, ancestry. So there’s a historical element. There’s always a mystery and there’s always an aspect of helping someone out of a jam and helping them go on their way to be whoever they are going to be.

Can you give me a peek into the Frankie episode you wrote?
RL: I really wanted to write an episode about Martha Graham because I have always been a Martha Graham fan and I just think as a personality, she’s very Frankie. She’s exactly the kind of woman that would fit into this world. I was reading her autobiography and she talks about having to work and perform as a dancer even when you’re really, really sick and how it’s such a difficult life. I just came up with this idea regarding the Spanish flu. So I was like, ‘That would be like a high stakes, super dramatic plot point.’ It was already in the works in the fall, so when everything happened in March …. hopefully it’s not too on the nose. I mean it is impossible to escape, but you know, hopefully, we did a nice job of kind of combining this very topical element but with some more, and deeper rooted, human aspects of the characters in Frankie and the dance world and everything else. Hopefully, it’s not too blunt.

What can you say about Mary’s journey over this fourth season?
RL: I really loved Mary’s story this season. I mean, she’s always so much fun, she is just continuing on her journey of growing up and becoming the woman that she is going to become. Not that Mary is childish in any way, but I think when we first met her in Season 1, she’s sort of naive. She thought she knew what she wanted and she thought she knew what was right and wrong. And over the last three seasons, we’ve seen that change and you seeing her worldview grow and that just continued this season. And I think a few things happened in the season that I don’t think Mary would have been able to handle in Season 1. As an actor, I’m proud of her that she’s doing these things.

Frankie Drake Mysteries airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Shaftesbury and The Toronto Symphony Orchestra team up to create original music specials for Murdoch Mysteries and Frankie Drake Mysteries

From a media release:

Award-winning production company Shaftesbury and the renowned Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) have come together in a new partnership to produce exclusive programming for two of Canada’s most popular drama series, Murdoch Mysteries and Frankie Drake Mysteries. Filmed on both respective production sets in Toronto, each live-to-tape 60-minute special features beloved compositions by the TSO’s world-class orchestra with conducting by Rob Carli (Composer, Murdoch Mysteries, Frankie Drake Mysteries).

Viewers looking for feel-good New Year’s Eve programming can watch A Music Lover’s Guide to Murdoch Mysteries on the Murdoch Mysteries Facebook page on December 31st at 11am ET, the perfect respite as we wind down the challenging year that was 2020. AMC Networks’ streaming service Acorn TV will premiere A Music Lover’s Guide to Murdoch Mysteries on December 24th, 2020 in the US, Canada, AU, NZ and LATAM.

Click here to view a clip from A Music Lover’s Guide to Murdoch Mysteries

A Music Lover’s Guide to Murdoch Mysteries celebrates the music of the Victorian and Edwardian eras and features seven musicians from the TSO performing various compositions. The special programming event is hosted by Murdoch Mysteries star Yannick Bisson.

Frankie Drake Mysteries: Music at Midnight will feature performances by the TSO, Chantel Riley and Sharron Matthews, and will air on Ovation in the US, and on the Frankie Drake Mysteries Facebook page in Canada. Further broadcast details will be announced in the coming weeks.

For the production crews involved with each special, the shooting of both was a testament to the resilience of Toronto’s arts and creative industries amidst all of the challenges of a global pandemic. At the time of shooting, the Murdoch Mysteries crew were marking their mid-way point of a successful 11-episode season for CBC and UKTV and the Frankie Drake Mysteries crew were celebrating the wrap of a successful 10-episode season for CBC and UKTV. With safety being top-of-mind, both productions had strict COVID-19 protocols in place that included pre-testing and self-assessments, as well as the required hand washing and maintaining a required social distance within each of the production pods.

Season 14 of Murdoch Mysteries, and Season 4 of Frankie Drake Mysteries, will premiere in Canada on Monday, January 4 at 8pm (8:30 NT) and 9pm (9:30 NT), respectively, on CBC TV and the free CBC Gem streaming service.

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CBC Announces Winter 2021 Premiere Dates

From a media release:

CBC today announced broadcast and streaming premiere dates for its winter 2021 slate of original programming, including over 20 new and returning Canadian series reflecting a diverse range of storytelling and perspectives. The new winter primetime schedule launches Monday, January 4 on CBC TV and the free CBC Gem streaming service.

MONDAYS:
Mystery Mondays return on January 4 with new seasons of hit detective series MURDOCH MYSTERIES (Season 14) and FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES (Season 4).

New weeknight primetime program CANADA TONIGHT WITH GINELLA MASSA launches Monday, January 11 at 8 p.m. on CBC News Network.

TUESDAYS:
CBC’s Tuesday night comedy lineup continues on January 5 with new episodes of THIS HOUR HAS 22 MINUTES and BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW The Final Season: Bonus Episodes, featuring never-before-aired sketches, followed by irreverent new series HUMOUR RESOURCES, starring Jon Dore and featuring comedians including Sarah Silverman, Aisha Brown, Tom Green, Scott Thompson and Ronny Chieng.

KIM’S CONVENIENCE returns with Season 5 beginning January 19.

New seasons of WORKIN’ MOMS (Season 5) and TALLBOYZ (Season 2) debut on February 16.

WEDNESDAYS:
British drama QUIZ, based on the true story of a former British army major who was caught cheating on the game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and starring Matthew Macfadyen (Succession), premieres January 13.

Season 3 of procedural crime drama CORONER starring Serinda Swan, followed by new buddy-cop drama series PRETTY HARD CASES (formerly Lady Dicks), starring Meredith MacNeill (Baroness von Sketch Show) and Adrienne C. Moore (Orange Is The New Black), premiere February 3.

THURSDAYS:
documentary Channel originals Fear of Dancing, Clydesdale: Saving the Greatest Horse and The Oslo Diaries premiere on CBC TV, January 7 through 21.

Beginning January 28, legal drama BURDEN OF TRUTH starring Kristin Kreuk returns with Season 4, and THE FIFTH ESTATE continues on a new night.

FRIDAYS:
MARKETPLACE continues on January 8, featuring an ongoing series, “Face Racism,” hosted by Asha Tomlinson, which follows people in search of justice in their communities, the marketplace and the workplace, often bringing them face-to-face with company executives and government officials.

The landmark 60th season of THE NATURE OF THINGS returns on January 8 with an ambitious archeological dig that peels away myths surrounding the last queen of Egypt in SEARCHING FOR CLEOPATRA, and the following week, a special five-part series, WILD CANADIAN WEATHER, showcasing a cinematic journey through Canada’s most extreme and spectacular weather.

New docuseries ANYONE’S GAME (formerly Orangeville Prep), offering an inside look at the competitive, high-pressure world of basketball’s most successful preparatory program at The Athlete Institute in Orangeville, Ontario, launches on January 15, with all episodes available that day to stream on CBC Gem.

New family-friendly series ARCTIC VETS, offering an up-close look at the wildlife that inhabits Canada’s north and the veterinarians at the Assiniboine Park Conservancy who work tirelessly to keep them safe, premieres February 26.

SUNDAYS:
Audience favourite HEARTLAND returns with a new season on January 10, followed by a four-week special event featuring back-to-back episodes of BBC’s acclaimed LES MISÉRABLES dramatic miniseries, starring Dominic West, David Oyelowo, Lily Collins and Olivia Colman.

Starting on Valentine’s Day, February 14, Season 4 of THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW welcomes a new batch of amateur bakers and two new hosts, Second City alumni Alan Shane Lewis and Ann Pornel, followed by the exclusive Canadian premiere of BELGRAVIA, highlighted in Vanity Fair’s Five New Juicy Costume Dramas to Add Glamour to Your Quarantine, centering on secrets and scandals amongst the upper echelon of London society in the 19th century.

CBC KIDS:
CBC Kids’ refreshed weekday lineup begins Monday, January 4 with new seasons of PJ MASKS, KIRI AND LOU, and TRUE AND THE RAINBOW KINGDOM. New CBC Kids and Radio-Canada original preschool animated series DINO RANCH, produced in partnership with Disney, premieres on Saturday, January 16, featuring the adventures of the Cassidy family as they tackle life in a fantastical, “pre-westoric” setting where dinosaurs still roam. CBC Kids original tween sci-fi drama ENDLINGS, produced in partnership with Hulu, returns for a second season, launching on CBC Gem Friday, January 15, with episodes released weekly.

SUNDAYS

7 PM – HEARTLAND Season 14 (10×60) premieres January 10

8 PM – LES MISÉRABLES (8×60) the BBC miniseries premieres January 10 with back-to-back episodes

8 PM – THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW Season 4 (8×60) premieres February 14

9 PM – BELGRAVIA (6×60) Julian Fellowes’ historical drama premieres February 14

10 PM – THE NATIONAL CBC News’ flagship program continues Sunday to Friday each week

MONDAYS

7 PM – CORONATION STREET continues weekdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 7:30 p.m.

7:30 PM – FAMILY FEUD CANADA Season 2 (104×30) continues Mondays to Thursdays

8 PM – MURDOCH MYSTERIES Season 14 (11×60) begins January 4

9 PM – FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES Season 4 (10×60) begins January 4

TUESDAYS

7 PM – CORONATION STREET continues weekdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 7:30 p.m.

7:30 PM – FAMILY FEUD CANADA Season 2 (104×30) continues Mondays to Thursdays

8 PM – KIM’S CONVENIENCE Season 5 (13×30) premieres January 19

8:30 PM – THIS HOUR HAS 22 MINUTES Season 28 (19×30) continues January 5

9 PM – BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW (5×30) The Final Season: Bonus Episodes featuring never-before-aired sketches premiere January 5

9 PM – WORKIN’ MOMS Season 5 (10×30) premieres February 16

9:30 PM – HUMOUR RESOURCES (6×30) a new irreverent comedy premieres January 5

9:30 PM – TALLBOYZ Season 2 (8×30) premieres February 16

WEDNESDAYS

7 PM – CORONATION STREET continues weekdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 7:30 p.m.

7:30 PM – FAMILY FEUD CANADA Season 2 (104×30) Mondays to Thursdays

8 PM – CORONER Season 3 (10×60) premieres February 3

9 PM – QUIZ (3×60) the British drama starring Matthew Macfadyen (Succession) premieres January 13

9 PM – PRETTY HARD CASES (formerly Lady Dicks, 10×60) a new female-driven buddy-cop series premieres February 3

THURSDAYS

7 PM – CORONATION STREET continues weekdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 7:30 p.m.

7:30 PM – FAMILY FEUD CANADA Season 2 (104×30) Mondays to Thursdays

8 PM – documentary Channel originals Fear of Dancing, Clydesdale: Saving the Greatest Horse and The Oslo Diaries premiere January 7 through 21

8 PM – BURDEN OF TRUTH Season 4 (8×60) premieres on January 28

9 PM – THE FIFTH ESTATE Season 46 (7×60) continues January 28 on a new night

FRIDAYS

7 PM – CORONATION STREET continues weekdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 7:30 p.m.

7:30 PM – CORONATION STREET continues weekdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 7:30 p.m.

8 PM – MARKETPLACE Season 48 (22×30) continues January 8

8:30 PM – ANYONE’S GAME (formerly Orangeville Prep, 6×30) a new factual series about basketball’s most successful preparatory program premieres January 15

8:30 PM – ARCTIC VETS (10×30) a new factual series featuring the wildlife of Canada’s north premieres February 26

9 PM – THE NATURE OF THINGS Season 60 (13×60) continues with an ambitious archeological dig in SEARCHING FOR CLEOPATRA on January 8

SATURDAYS

Afternoon – ROAD TO THE OLYMPIC GAMES Season 6 continues

6:30 PM – HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA begins January 16

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