Blue Ant Media, an international producer, distributor and channel operator, announced today that it has entered into an agreement with BBC Studios to be the first to license the series format rights for the international hit Life Below Zero. In the U.S., the series recently celebrated its 100th episode on the National Geographic Channel, being one the most-watched programs, where it takes up the largest portion of the channel’s programming lineup. BBC Studios production arm in Los Angeles first launched the series in 2013.
Blue Ant Media’s newly acquired Saloon Media is starting production this month on Life Below Zero: Canada (8 x 60 minutes). The new documentary series is being shot on location in Canada with a focus on Canadian people and stories and is set to air on the Cottage Life channel in 2020. A special 30-minute, sneak peek documentary episode will premiere on the channel this April.
Based on BBC’s successful format, Life Below Zero: Canada is an observational documentary series about people who live off the grid in remote regions of northern Canada. The series follows a diverse group of people from different backgrounds, including first nations, giving viewers an unfiltered glimpse into their rugged day-to-day activities that range from makeshift problem solving to traditional survival practices. From long, dark, frozen winters, to sweltering, bug-infested summers, these Canadians grapple with deadly weather and limited resources to find food, water, and shelter.
Blue Ant Media is a privately held, international content producer, distributor and channel operator. From our production houses around the world, we create content for multiple genres including factual, factual entertainment, short-form digital series and kids programming.
It could be the A-story in an episode of The X-Files. The tale of a man who, in 1980, announced to his friends and loved ones that he was leaving Earth aboard a UFO and would return in a few months and then disappeared. But rather than being the stuff of “Duane Barry,” the Season 2 episode of Fox’s sci-fi drama, this story really happened. At least, two-thirds of it.
“Spaceman,” debuting as part of CBC Docs POV on Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC, is the strange tale of Granger Taylor, a young man who climbed into his truck in Duncan, B.C., and was never seen again. He left the following note for his family:
Dear Mother & Father, I have gone away to walk aboard an alien spaceship as recurring dreams assured a 42-month interstellar voyage to explore the vast universe, then return. I am leaving behind all my possessions to you as I will no longer require the use of any. Please use the instructions in my will as a guide to help. Love, Granger
Now, almost 40 years later, Alibi Entertainment—the folks behind shows like Carnival Eats and Sarah Off the Grid—sit down with Granger’s family and friends to look back at his life and reflect on the rumours and reports surrounding his whereabouts.
“One of the things that became really obvious right from the beginning that made this stand out from your average story that might not be true was just how current a topic this still is on Vancouver Island,” says executive producer Jennifer Horvath. “It’s been this unanswered question in a smaller community and has stayed in people’s minds.” What isn’t disputed is that Granger was a technical genius. From disassembling cars to building an airplane and steam engine, Granger’s social skills were lacking but his ability to build things wasn’t.
Through interviews with Granger’s sister, Grace Anne Young Reynolds, and close friends Robert Keller and Darrin Manns, viewers learn the details of his life and untangle the theories behind his disappearance. A journalist, Tyler Hooper, digs into the official record to separate fact from fiction. Among the things unearthed by Horvath and her team are Granger’s mental health—something simply not discussed in the 80s—and drug abuse.
But before making the mistake—like I did—and assuming the case of this missing man was simply one to do with his state of mind, “Spaceman” delivers two earth-shattering revelations you’ll shake your head at.
“At the beginning, I would have said, ‘Absolutely not. [Granger leaving on a UFO] is ridiculous,'” Horvath says. “But meeting people who were so whole-heartedly convinced … it leaves the question open.”
“Spaceman” airs as part of CBC Docs POV on Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.
The competition is heating up on Makeful’s newest original series Blown Away as ten extraordinary glass blowers compete to win bragging rights, a residency at the world-renowned Corning Museum of Glass in New York, and other prizes valued at over $60,000 USD. YouTube star Nick Uhas (Nickipedia; Big Brother Season 15; America’s Got Talent Season 12) hosts the series. Renowned glass blower Katherine Gray acts as resident judge, while a cast of all-star guest evaluators rotate through each episode. A Makeful Original production, Blown Away airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT starting February 20, during Makeful’s nationwide free preview, available in over 10 million homes across Canada.
In each episode, contestants have only four hours to design, create and present a piece of glass art that adheres to the creative challenge outlined by the judges. Each week, the contestant that fails to blow away the judges will be eliminated. The glass blowers are encouraged to push their creative limits in the largest glass blowing studio ever built in North America. Designed specifically for the scope and scale of the competition, the space allows 10 artists to work simultaneously, utilizing two large glass-melting furnaces, 10 reheating furnaces and 10 individual work stations.
Host Nick Uhas brings an upbeat and youthful energy to the series. Well-known for his popular science show Nickipedia that has over 14 million views on YouTube, Nick Uhas is also a former contestant on Season 12 of America’s Got Talent and Season 15 of Big Brother. Each week, Nick is joined by resident judge, professor and glass-master, Katherine Gray who offers her sharp eye and many years of experience in each round of evaluations.
The Corning Museum of Glass in New York, which houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of glass, the library of record on glass, and one of the top glassmaking schools in the world, is a key consulting partner on the series. Blown Away is a co-production between Blue Ant Media and Netflix. The series was created and produced by marblemedia.
Makeful is a Blue Ant Media lifestyle specialty channel celebrating the creativity that exists within us all. Makeful’s programming combines food, design, style and DIY series, featuring passionate personalities who share their ideas and inspire audiences to bring imagination into every aspect of their lives. Makeful also unites the creative at heart with fresh and contemporary content through its digital and social platforms.
I truly relate to the participants of AMI-tv’s documentary series, Mind Set Go, which kicks off its second season on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET. I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life and have had to deal with the mental blocks that kept me from achieving my health and fitness goals. Over the past few years, I changed my focus from short-term fixes to a long-term wellness plan, and I’ve lost around 50 pounds. Despite that success, it’s still a daily challenge, and I often have days when I have to battle negative thoughts.
As it so happens, overcoming negative thoughts is the entire point of Mind Set Go, which follows the journeys of eight overweight Canadians as they attempt to change their lives for the healthier.
“It’s all about the brain, and it’s all about your mindset,” supervising producer Sophie Morgadinho explains during a phone interview from Toronto. “It’s not like a diet. It’s stopping the behaviours that are causing you to be unhealthy, and it really starts with changing the way you think about yourself and what you’re doing every day.”
Helping the show’s participants to transform their outlooks and bodies are fitness and health experts Julie and Lowell Taylor (The Amazing Race Canada) and a group of Canadian Paralympians. One of those Paralympians is Para Hall of Famer and retired para-alpine skier Karolina Wisniewska, who says she was thrilled to take part in the series.
“I think the thing that appealed to me most of all was this opportunity to be in a position to kind of inspire or help someone based on the things I learned as a high-performance athlete,” she says. “And on another maybe more personal level, I retired from alpine skiing in 2011 due to a concussion, and after my retirement, I too had struggled with maintaining my fitness. So I could really relate to what maybe some of these participants on the show were experiencing themselves.”
Each expanded, one-hour episode of the show follows a participant as he or she attempts to get fit and triumph over some of the mental hurdles that have tripped them up in the past. For self-professed “sugar addict” Dana, who is featured in the season premiere and paired with Paralympian powerlifter Ness Murby, that means confronting the grief she tried to suppress with food after her father died. For formerly fit Darryl, who is featured in the sixth episode and paired with Wisniewska, that means coming to grips with a degenerative hearing condition that left him profoundly deaf.
“My strong feeling with Daryl was that he just really needed somebody to bounce ideas off of and to talk him through it and to kind of think about what was resonating with him,” says Wisniewska. “The second aspect, I think, is that he did need a bit of a kick in the butt.”
Wisniewska was more than happy to provide that kick. While she says her history of concussions makes her very empathetic towards those who are facing adversity, being born with cerebral palsy makes her want to push able-bodied people to meet their full fitness potential.
“I’m someone who was born with a disability, and I’ve never understood able-bodied people who take their bodies for granted,” she says. “So that’s where my competitive athlete side comes out, and I’m like, ‘Oh, my god. Stop making excuses. You have no excuse, just do it.'”
At the beginning of their journeys, Dana, Darryl and the other participants all choose a physical challenge to complete at the end of their three-month transformations. These challenges, which include a mountain climb and a long-distance bike ride, are designed to provide a measuring stick for the physical and mental progress each person has made. While the Taylors and the Paralympians are a key part of the process, in the end, the participants have to look inside themselves for the inspiration they need to succeed–a situation Wisneiwska is very familiar with.
“At the end of the day, in ski racing, you’re at the top of the hill, you have to kick out of the start gate, and you have to race that race,” she says. “Nobody else is going to do it.”
According to Morgadinho, watching people overcome their mental demons and achieve their health goals was a motivating experience for everyone involved with the series.
“Working on the show, I have to tell you, it’s been really inspiring because I see people make transformations in their lives,” she says. “And it’s not like Biggest Loser. You’re not going to see someone come back 100 pounds lighter. It’s not about that. But you see a difference in their confidence and their happiness, and they’re healthier, they look better.”
She continues, “For me, it’s very inspiring to look at the things that I can change and go, ‘I know I’m in control of this. I have to change how I look at the problem and how I look at the solution.’ I hope that viewers are also inspired to make positive, healthy changes.”
Upcoming episodes of the series feature Canadian Paralympians Michelle Stilwell, David Willsie, Ina Forrest, Pamela LeJean, Shawna Ryan and Andrew Haley.
Mind Set Go airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on AMI-tv.
This is the third winter that I’ve taken the time to preview a new season of Heavy Rescue: 401. You may wonder why I bother. Isn’t this, and its predecessor, Highway Thru Hell, the same thing every week? The answer is yes, both programs feature folks cleaning up vehicular messes in the west or on Ontario’s highways. But the sameness ends there. Every situation is different from the last and every job varies.
So I was, once again, excited when the fine folks at Bell Media sent over materials pertaining to Season 3 of Heavy Rescue: 401, returning Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on the specialty channel.
The first episode of the season is called “One Twisted Mess,” and it’s apt. Using dashcam footage to show the drama unravel, a sunny, dry day on Highway 401 west of Toronto turns dangerous when a tractor-trailer and car converge in a cloud of dust and shredded metal. A squad of rotators and wreckers, led by Metro Truck Group converge on the scene to clean up the 100,000-pound cargo mess. It takes years on the job to figure out the best—and safest—way to upright a tumbled truck and trailer and I’m always amazed to see it being done on Heavy Rescue: 401.
Meanwhile, Preferred Towing is on the move on Highway 402, the site of a rolled propane tanker, a truly dangerous cargo to take care of. With a new truck added to the fleet, Collin is becoming an even more important member of his father, Gary’s, team. It’s an all hands on deck operation to upright the propane truck and jackknifed second hauler laden with tomatoes. Will Collin succeed in his first-ever solo job? Will part of the 402 become engulfed in tomato sauce? Tune in to Heavy Rescue: 401 on Tuesday to find out.
Heavy Rescue: 401 airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on Discovery.