The classic CBC comedy-drama The Beachcombers is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and two Canadian industry veterans are preparing an especially animated celebration. Longtime kids’ animation producer, director & writer Blair Peters has teamed up with Beachcombers writer-producer Nick Orchard to develop a new animated series based on the hit show.
Created by L.S. Strange and Marc Strange, The Beachcombers stands as one of the most successful series in Canadian television history, running for 387 episodes over 18 seasons (1972-1990). Set along the British Columbian coast, the series centers on Greek-Canadian log salvager Nick Adonidas and his partner Jesse Jim as they trawl for lumbar on their boat, Persephone (while evading the scheming competition, Relic), as well as the local characters in Nick’s hometown of Gibsons.
“We are super excited to bring these iconic Canadian characters to a whole new audience,” says Peters, best known for his work on award-winning animated series, such as Yvon of the Yukon, Being Ian and Kid vs. Kat, at Studio B Productions (now WildBrain), which he co-founded in 1988 and later sold to DHX Media in 2007.
Peters, who lives on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, and Orchard, who worked on the original series and brings over 30 years of experience to this new project, have inked a deal with the show’s original creators. The team is fleshing out designs and concepts in the coming months with a plan to pitch the series to Canadian, U.S. and European broadcasters in Spring 2023.
“The goal is to take all the best parts of the original series and build on them to tell stories with humor and heart, while tackling real issues the world faces today,” says Orchard. “I look forward to working with Blair, who has years of animation industry experience collaborating with all the top toon companies, such as Disney, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, YTV, Teletoon and Family Channel.”
Peters adds, “Nick knows these characters inside and out and I look forward to working with him to create a funny, fresh new take on the series that can reach a younger, wider audience, including the U.S. market, as did the wonderful Canadian-made series Schitt’s Creek.”
The Beachcombers is Canada’s second-longest-running scripted TV shows, and was named one of Canada’s all-time best series in a 2017 poll conducted by the Toronto International Film Festival.
Watched by more than 1 million Canadian viewers per episode in its prime, the half-hour family adventure played a pivotal role in the development of film production in British Columbia and provided an early template for uniquely Canadian TV content. Ahead of its time, the series featured Indigenous characters and storylines, and often dealt with subject matter involving preservation of the land.
The original Beachcombers has been licensed to over 35 countries worldwide and versioned into numerous languages.
Blair Peters loved cartoons as a kid and was lucky enough to find his way to Sheridan College in Oakville, after completing high school at White Pines in Sault Ste. Marie. From there, he took his first job at Crawley Films in Ottawa before moving to Vancouver to start up Studio B Productions with his colleague, Chris Bartleman. The studio went on to produce over 1,000 half hours that sold to over 100 countries worldwide on networks such as Disney, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Teletoon, YTV and the BBC.
After 20 years in business that saw Studio B receive numerous awards, the pair sold the company to media giant DHX Media in 2007. Peters stayed with the company until 2011. He now consults for creators and develops series of his own.
Nick Orchard has been in the film and television business for over half a century, beginning as a child actor on stage, radio and TV, and later producing hits like The Beachcombers (CBC), Eastenders (BBC) and Brookside (Channel 4). For the past 30 plus years, as head of Soapbox Productions Inc., Orchard has produced network series such as the popular teen drama Northwood, and produced and directed award-winning documentaries and comedy series such as Double Exposure for CTV and the Comedy Network.