Bright and Early
While most Canadians have heard of Canada AM, few will remember this successful show’s precursor, Bright and Early, which enjoyed a brief life on CTV in 1966-67. It was CTV’s first attempt to persuade Canadian viewers to forsake NBC’s Today Show for something with a more domestic slant. The one-hour daily Monday-to-Friday morning show was hosted by Toronto personalities Pat Murray and Terri Clark. Peter Jennings was the first newscaster, later succeeded by Jim Fleming, and sportscaster Annis Stukus was a regular participant.
So were two puppets, named - wait for it – Bright and Early, whose inclusion was perhaps an attempt to give children a reason to watch the show instead of the cartoons available in profusion on US channels available from across the border. The puppeteer was Len Carlson.
The show limped through the 1966-67 season, running Monday through Friday, 7:30 – 8:30am, but was not renewed. When the non-renewal of the show was announced in December 1966, Terri Clark left the series; several guest female hosts filled her chair until the end, one of them being Andrea Kelly, wife of Toronto Maple Leaf star Red Kelly. It was five years before CTV launched Canada AM, to prove that a Canadian morning news-oriented show could be a success. Bright and Early was produced in the studios of CFTO-TV Toronto. Gordon Farr was the first producer/director, later succeeded by Brian Purdy. Bob Conroy became the director in November 1966, and was there until the final telecast in March 1967.
Written by Pip Wedge - November, 2002