Extraordinary Canadians – premieres on Citytv Sunday October 23 at 8:30pm

PMA Productions and Rogers Broadcasting in association with Penguin Books presents a stellar 12-week television series, airing on Citytv, The Biography Channel, and OMNI, beginning Oct 23 on Citytv at 8:30pm ET, on Biography Oct 29, at 7:30pm ET, and launches on OMNI spring 2012..


– Compelling original series chronicles the lives of 12 notable Canadians through the eyes of contemporary Canadian writers

– Authors include Mark Kingwell, Adrienne Clarkson, Nino Ricci Vincent Lam, M.G. Vassanji and Margaret MacMillan

OMNI Television, The Biography Channel and Citytv honour some of Canada’s most outstanding individuals in the original biographical series, Extraordinary Canadians. This innovative, 12-part series presents a personal take on the lives of eminent Canadians from the perspective of celebrated writers who have shaped contemporary thinking.

Extraordinary Canadians will air Sundays at 8:30pm ET/PT on Citytv, premiering Sunday, October 23, and later on The Biography Channel, airing Saturdays at 7:30pm ET/PT, premiering Saturday, October 29. The series will also air in Mandarin, Hindi and Italian language on OMNI Television in spring 2012.

Each episode of Extraordinary Canadians captures the relationship between writer and, subject, probing the distinctive link between the two. With revealing insights, each writer chronicles the life of a great Canadian from whom they have drawn inspiration. Iconic Canadians featured in this series include Glenn Gould, Emily Carr, Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Lord Beaverbrook. The series is adapted from the best-selling Penguin Canada book series, edited by John Ralston Saul. In conjunction with the launch of the television series, Penguin Group (Canada) will be releasing the first six books of the series in paperback this fall. 

“As a Canadian over the air multilingual broadcaster we are proud to make this home grown educational series also accessible to OMNI Television’s language audiences and play a significant role in the acculturation of Canadian ethnocultural viewers,” commented Madeline Ziniak, National Vice-President of OMNI Television.

The first episode features Mark Kingwell telling the interesting story of Glenn Gould. The famed performer and interpreter of Bach’s Goldberg Variations is popularly seen as a genius, enigma and hypochondriac, who lived a life shrouded in mystery. Kingwell illustrates how Glenn Gould – the rock star of classical music – was in fact a great philosopher and innovator. In this intimate portrait, Kingwell looks beyond the eccentricities to the man behind the music.

In the second episode, Adrienne Clarkson, the Hong Kong-born former Governor General and renowned journalist, gives her very personal take on Norman Bethune, the Canadian most revered in China. From working to revolutionize health care in Canada to saving thousands of lives on the battlefield in China and Spain, Bethune devoted his life to universal medical access. Clarkson looks at this great hero, illuminating his remarkable humanism and the battles he fought to his dying day.

“This remarkable series has been over five years in the making,” says PMA Productions Producer Kenneth Hirsch. “There has been nothing quite like it before – a collection of biographies conceived simultaneously for books, television, print, and digital media. We have teamed up with the country’s most talented creators to craft a television series that will remain relevant for years to come. Rogers Media has proven the ideal broadcast partner – and I am thrilled to present this dramatic and engaging take on our recent history, in multiple languages, to Canadians across the country.”

Extraordinary Canadians Television Episodes, airing every Sunday, beginning October 23rd:

Episode 1: Mark Kingwell on Glenn Gould directed by Adrian Wills

Episode 2: Adrienne Clarkson on Norman Bethune directed by Karen Cho

Episode 3: Lewis DeSoto on Emily Carr directed by Joshua Dorsey

Episode 4: Rudy Wiebe on Big Bear directed by Adrian Wills and Kenneth Hirsch

Episode 5: Margaret MacMillan on Stephen Leacock directed by Tom Puchniak

Episode 6: David Adams Richards on Lord Beaverbrook directed by Joshua Dorsey

Episode 7: Charlotte Gray on Nellie McClung directed by Karen Cho

Episode 8: Andrew Cohen on Lester B. Pearson directed by Karen Cho

Episode 9: Jane Urquhart on L.M. Montgomery directed by Helene Klodawsky

Episode 10: M.G. Vassanji on Mordecai Richler directed by Lewis Cohen

Episode 11: Nino Ricci on Pierre Elliot Trudeau directed by Helene Klodawsky

Episode 12: John Ralston Saul on Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine directed by Kenneth Hirsch

Introduced by John Ralston Saul

Narrated by Holly O’Brien

Produced by Kenneth Hirsch


Karen Cho (Episodes 2, 7 & 8)

Lewis Cohen (Episode 11)

Joshua Dorsey (Episodes 3 & 6)

Kenneth Hirsch (Episodes 4 & 12)

Helene Klodawsky (Episodes 9 & 10)

Tom Puchniak (Episode 5)

Adrian Wills (Episodes 1 & 4)

Executive Producers:

Kenneth Hirsch; Michael Levine

OMNI Television has championed independent production funding for third-language documentary and drama programming. Extraordinary Canadians was funded by OMNI Television and The Biography Channel, divisions of Rogers Broadcasting Inc.

About PMA Productions
PMA Productions Inc. was founded by Kenneth Hirsch in 2003 with the objective of working with Canada’s most talented creators in the production of first quality film, television, and digital media programming. While the company’s primary focus is high-impact documentaries and documentary series, the company also develops and produces select animated projects, shorts and feature films. Located in Montreal, PMA Productions works closely with its writers and directors to produce entertaining and provocative programming for audiences in Canada and abroad. It has gained a nation-wide reputation for the consistently high quality and prestigious nature of its productions.

About Rogers Media Inc. Rogers Media Inc., a division of Rogers Communications Inc., (TSX: RCI; NYSE: RCI), operates Rogers Broadcasting and Rogers Publishing. Rogers Broadcasting has 55 AM and FM radio stations across Canada. Television properties include 5 Citytv stations as well as 5 OMNI multicultural television stations, Rogers Sportsnet consisting of four regional channels and the nationally distributed Sportsnet ONE, and the Shopping Channel, a televised and Internet shopping service. Rogers Publishing produces many well-known consumer magazines such as Maclean’s, Chatelaine, Flare, L’actualité and Canadian Business, and is the leading publisher of a number of industry, medical and financial publications. All media properties are integrated with their own popular web sites. Rogers Media also owns The Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club and Rogers Centre, a year-round sports and entertainment facility.