‘Air Farce’ ends its 15-year run
TORONTO – CBC-TV’s long-running comedy show, “The Royal Canadian Air Farce,” is ending its 15-year run, a mutual decision by the show’s producers and the network.
Producers Don Ferguson and Roger Abbott, who also star on the beloved sketch comedy series, have informed the cast and crew that there will be a truncated, 10-episode season starting in the fall, with a final “Air Farce” farewell edition airing on New Year’s Eve.
“All good things must come to an end,” Ferguson said Tuesday. “Our last deal with the CBC was made after our 12th season and it was for three years, and the feeling was that would be long enough.”
He added the new regime of CBC programming executives seemed to agree.
“It’s all new people here since then … there’s a totally new regime, and what they want to do, and I agree with them completely, is they want to do their own thing,” he said.
“The thing about TV time-slots is you can’t make new ones. The only way you can get your hands on one is if somebody vacates. If they’re going to come in and do their job, they don’t want to feel they have to carry every predecessor’s decision.”
Other cast members of the show, in particular Luba Goy, are disappointed by the decision to call it quits, Ferguson added.
“She’s upset; this has been her main gig forever and ever,” Ferguson said.
“I have kind of mixed feelings about it. Thirty-five years is a long time, and if there’s a chance we’re ever going to do anything else in our lives besides this, we have to stop this first. But personally I feel bad for all the other people on the staff and the cast – none of them wanted to stop. So I am feeling kind of responsible in a sense.”
Kirstine Layfield, CBC’s head of network programming, paid tribute to the show on Tuesday, and added Canadians have likely not seen the last of the “Air Farce” crew.
“We remain in discussions with them about upcoming projects. It’s too soon to say what’s next, but we look forward to continuing to work with them,” she said.
“We’re paying special tribute to it this year as we bid it a fond farewell. ‘Air Farce’ has meant a lot to the CBC and its fans and we want to celebrate a great partnership unprecedented in television.”
“Air Farce” debuted on CBC Radio in December 1973 and boasted more than 600 radio broadcasts over 20 years before making the leap to television in 1993. Its last radio broadcast was in 1997.
In 2007, it returned to a live format with “Air Farce Live.”
The union representing Canadian actors bemoaned the end of the show’s run, assailing the CBC for pulling the plug.
“We were hoping this was an April Fool’s prank,” Stephen Waddell, ACTRA’s national executive director, said in a statement.
“‘Air Farce’ is one of the few remaining Canadian television programs that the CBC hasn’t cancelled. We can only hope they will replace this pillar of Canadian programming with something equally as rooted in Canada’s culture.”
Throughout its run, the show has poked mostly gentle fun at politicians, journalists and other famous Canadians – everyone from Stephen Harper to Jean Chretien and George Stroumboulopoulos.
“Politicians are so mealy-mouthed, they would never admit if we’d angered them,” Ferguson said. “We can be occasionally nasty but we’re not mean-minded. We’ve never been sued or anything; it’s not our style. We wanted our stuff to sting a little bit, but there’s no real pleasure in personally attacking somebody.”
Fans of the show were upset to learn the show was ending.
“Oh my God, say it isn’t so – a Canadian institution gone?” Philip Elliott wrote on the Facebook group devoted to “Air Farce Live.”
“CBC needs to be drawn and quartered for the way it’s destroying its institution. Just as I’m introducing my American partner to Canadian culture, the best of it is being killed off. A sad day for all of us.”
Other TV watchers welcomed the news, saying the show had long passed its prime.
Craig Lauzon, a cast member whose robotic impersonation of Harper is a hit with fans, says he’s sad to see the show ending.
“It’s my fifth year, so that’s a pretty good run for anybody,” he said. “But the younger members of the troupe wanted to keep going for sure. As an actor you always like to keep working, so I am disappointed on that front, because I am going to have to start looking for another job. But it’s an honour to have been involved with ‘Air Farce’ at all.”
The final show of this season of “Air Farce” airs on Friday night.
‘Air Farce’ ends its 15-year run