BATTLE OF THE BLADES SET TO RETURN FOR A 4TH SEASON!
Few television reality shows captured the essence of the Canadian identity quite like Battle of the Blades.
Team up a hockey player with a figure skater, add ice and you have Canuck TV heaven.
Not surprisingly, there were some distraught fans when the cash-strapped CBC put the show on hiatus last April. This was part of $115 million in spending cuts mandated by the federal government.
But the Battle is back.
CBC announced Wednesday that the show is returning for the 2013-2014 season, part of 21 renewals, including the police procedural Cracked, Arctic Air, Mr. D, and expanded seasons of Murdoch Mysteries and Republic of Doyle.
In terms of new content, the broadcaster has green-lighted a TV movie adaptation of Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes and a miniseries based on Terry Fallis’s satiric political novel The Best Laid Plans.
With severe cuts to the budget, CBC has had to play defence, sticking to the tried and true rather than experimenting with new and costly productions. Because live shows are expensive to produce, Battle of the Blades was cut last year.
“We’re thrilled to have the show back on CBC-TV,” said Julie Bristow, CBC’s executive director of unscripted programming in a statement to the Star. “In this, a Winter Olympic year, it made perfect sense to showcase our two most popular winter sports in a lead-up to the games.”
Producers are being tight-lipped about exactly what to expect in the new season.
The show is produced by Toronto’s Insight Productions in association with the CBC. Insight referred all calls concerning the show to the CBC.
One sure thing is that it likely won’t be produced with the same budget. Bristow confirmed that changes had to be made.
“With our partners at Insight Productions we’ve made changes to the show to make it more cost-effective, including changing the format to a one-night elimination show.” Eliminations were previously done on the second of two nights.
Bristow said production is underway, with an air date sometime in September. In Season 3 in 2011, the winners were hockey player Tessa Bonhomme with figure skater David Pelletier.
The CBC budget has been trimmed $27.8 million for 2012-13, another $41.8 million in 2013-14 and $45.4 million in 2014-15.
“Despite a challenging financial climate, CBC continues to deliver a television schedule that features strong, proven Canadian programming along with some new made-in-Canada titles,” said Christine Wilson, executive director of content for CBC.