General Motors Theatre

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General Motors Theatre
Also known as CBC Theatre
General Motors Presents
Genre Anthology series, Drama
Starring Various
Country of origin Canada
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
Location(s) Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Running time 60 minutes
Original network CBC Television
Original release 5 October 1954 – 1 January 1961

General Motors Theatre (also known as CBC Theatre and General Motors Presents) was a Canadian television anthology series, which ran on CBC Television under its various titles from 1953 until 1961. First transmitted under the sponsored title on October 5, 1954, a new 60-minute drama would be presented each week. As suggested by the title, the programme was sponsored by the General Motors automobile company. It was effectively the same series as the unsponsored CBC Theatre, which had run its first season from December 1, 1953 to April 20, 1954, with General Motors becoming title sponsor for the second season.

The series was a breeding ground for writing and directing talent such as William Kotcheff, Donald Jack and Arthur Hailey. One of Hailey's plays for the strand, Flight into Danger (1956), was later remade as the feature film Zero Hour!, and was also screened by the BBC in the United Kingdom. It was a major factor in General Motors Theatre producer — and CBC Supervisor of Drama — Sydney Newman moving to work in the UK, where he later worked on and created anthology series similar to General Motors Theatre such as Armchair Theatre and The Wednesday Play (he would later go on to create Doctor Who.)

The series also supported the earlier careers of many Canadian actors such as James Doohan who played a role in the GM Presents production of "The Night they Killed Joe Howe" (1960).[1]

Following concerns about the series moving to a Sunday evening slot in 1956, where it would be in competition with the American network CBS's enormously popular game show The $64,000 Question in the key Toronto market (where American broadcast signals could be received from across the border), General Motors pulled out and the show disappeared for two years. It returned in 1958, after The $64,000 Question had been cancelled, under the new title General Motors Presents.

General Motors Presents was one of the very first Canadian productions to be sold to one of the major broadcast networks in the United States. However, despite the American Broadcasting Company purchasing thirty-nine episodes, they screened only five before cancelling the run in November 1958. On ABC, the series was known as Encounter.

For its final run in the summer of 1961, the series consisted not of originally-produced dramas but broadcasts of a bought-in British anthology series called Interplay.


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