This week marks the 10th anniversary of Canadian Idol

CanadianIdolThis week marks a special anniversary for Canadian reality TV and in particular, Ben Mulroney.

It is ten years this week since Canadian Idol burst onto the screen and catapulted host Mulrony into the spotlight as much as the contestants – which let’s not forget included the now mega-popular Carly Rae Jepsen.

“It was not a foregone conclusion it was going to be successful,” recalls Mulroney. “If you look at the jaded, cynical members of the press … they were convinced this was not a Canadian thing to do. ‘We don’t do stuff like this…. We don’t celebrate the way that the Americans do.’

“And yet we proved them wrong. But we had to fight very hard against that sentiment.”

The series channelled the successful US judging panel of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson with Sass Jordan, Farley Flex, Zack Werner and Jake Gold.

“It was fairly obvious that having the U.S. show as a background for what we were doing, that there was a female singer, there was an African American (or) African Canadian man — who’s actually in our case from Trinidad — and there was a mean guy,” Gold said in a recent interview. “Fortunately for me, there wasn’t me on that show…. So I got to be myself. I didn’t really have to live up to any predetermined character.”

Unlike the American version, which has since been through a multitude of judging changes, the Canadian version never changed theirs.

“I guess the good news is, unlike the American show … it was the same four (judges), we lasted six seasons, which in Canadian television is still pretty good,” Gold said.

“We were the No. 1 show for six years. So I guess we went out on top, for lack of a better term.”

While the audience numbers were impressive across all seasons, they were declining.

The season one premiere in 2003 drew 2.06 million viewers, followed by an average of 2.04 million in season two.

The next four seasons pulled an average of 1.85 million, 1.80 million, 1.60 million and 1.14 million.

CTV then cancelled the series but suggested it may be brought back in the future.

“(It) was CTV sending out the worst possible message to Canadians,” Werner said. “There was a whole bunch of nonsense with regard to killing this thing off. That said, they’re a private enterprise, they can do whatever the hell they want.”

However it finished, its fair to say that Canadian Idol has paved the way for future Canuck adaptations of successful American reality shows, which continue to this day – think The Amazing Race Canada, The Bachelor Canada etc.

About the author