On August 6, 2003, The Slime Society had the privilege of interviewing cast member Brad Hampson about his time on YCDTOTV. Brad was an original cast member of YCDTOTV, taking part in the live CJOH broadcasts of 1979. Below is the transcript.
How did you get involved with YCDTOTV in 1979?
Wow, we're going back 25 years ... hard to believe! I was in grade 10 in 1978 attending Lester B. Pearson Catholic Junior High in Ottawa. I remember being classmates with Christine McGlade, Cyndi Kennedy and then met up with Kevin Somers, Jono Gebert and Deidre McIsaac after we all went to the auditions. We had heard through the school that this English TV producer was coming to audition kids for a new kids' TV comedy show and a big bunch of us showed up. We were in a classroom at the school and had to do some improv, from what I recall, in front of Roger Price. I don't think any of us had any real drama training prior to this, but we all gave it our best shot. At any rate, from what I recall, the six of us were initially selected from the group to continue on and then started our acting lessons. We went to Laurentian High School and CJOH studios weekly after school to take drama from Carole Hay, and also met Geoff Darby as well (the director).
I remember Carole quite well and was so impressed that she had worked in the past with Robin Williams or something like that. Back then Robin was only famous for being "Mork." She put so much effort into getting us ready. We did improv skits, relaxation techniques, facial exercises, pantomime and learning how to cry on cue amongst other things.
How old were you when the show began?
I was 16 years old when the show started running.
Who sticks out as memorable people to work with on YCDTOTV?
Although I certainly was not with the show very long, the castmates whom I found most memorable were Cyndi Kennedy, Christine McGlade and Deidre McIsaac, only because we spent a lot of time together to and from rehearsals and drama class. I also saw Kevin Somers and Jono Gebert a lot at school and they certainly became mini "Travoltas" after 1979 with the girls. Rodney and Lisa Ruddy also made quite an impression on me, both being so young and excitable. The whole gang of originals were a fine bunch and were all the instruments of the show's success.
I have to say that there was no one more natural at the time as a kid actor than Christine McGlade. Looking back, she was as sharp and quick-witted as they came and unbelievably great in the live segments. I give her a lot of credit for the success of the show.
You were on the local, live version of the show. Do you recall any live mistakes, bloopers, etc. that you were a part of?
I know with the live segments initially, it was my impression that the older kids were selected to work these, meaning the 14-16 year olds ( I could be totally wrong). I do remember the very first live segment I did and it's still etched vividly in my memory. My mind was racing prior to the event thinking "What the hell will I do if I screw this up?" Secondly, "How long will I live if I screw this up?" It was a phone-in contest and the question was "Which person's face appeared on the Canadian $50 bill"? The answer was Sir Robert Borden and the winner received complimentary tickets to a concert (Trooper, I think). I remember talking live on the phone to a couple of kids before the right answer came through and sort of hamming it up a bit. I remember thinking how silly that felt at the time, but it all went off without a hitch.
I seem to recall some of our live segments dealt with promos for "Skadium" and "Skateway." This was the day of disco rollerskating and these two roller rinks in Ottawa catered to our needs to "get down" on skates on the wood floor rinks to "Rah Rah Rasputin" and "Popcorn."
Speaking of discos, we had a little disco in the studio where at one point the band Trooper played live. That was extremely cool. I think that was for an episode on WTYO.
I don't think there were any real problems ever with the live segments except the story I heard of poor old Marc Baillon who missed his cue on one not being where he was supposed to. Marc and I had a good chuckle about it at the cast reunion in 2002 when he told me it was the only time the original show ever went to a black screen "live." Apparently, Geoff Darby was so mad he never talked about it with Marc until Slimecon 2002.
How many episodes did you take part in? Do you remember what they were about?
Unfortunately, I don't have any tapes or footage of any of the segments I was involved in. I think I was only on one or two shows when we were doing the taping during the week and live segments on Saturday mornings. It was an hour-long show back then. I did have an original script from one show I was on up until a few years ago, but you'd probably kill me to hear I threw it out when cleaning out some old junk in my basement a few years back. I kick myself for also throwing out my old ACTRA union card which listed us as "freelance performers." I always thought that was very cool.
I recall playing the "class clown" in a classroom skit with the rest of that week's cast and Les Lye as the teacher. He was berating me as a class nuisance, finally asking if I thought I was the class clown or something. The camera panned to me rolling around the class giving some lip and acting crazy, laughing and wearing a clown costume. This one stuck with me in my memory because I’ve always been referred to as the class clown right up to this day.
The one thing I really recall was the paycheque we got. For a 16-year-old kid, I thought I was going to be a millionaire ... it was actually only about $300 per show which was a lot of money in those days.
Why did you stop working on YCDTOTV after 1979?
The show's success initially developed into what was to become the nationally syndicated Whatever Turns You On. Ruth Buzzi was brought in to work as a second adult character actor alongside Les Lye. She was extremely down to earth and personable. Roger Price and Geoff Darby had to whittle the numbers of kid actors down to just a core group of 8 or so to continue on. I was one of the unlucky ones who did not get to continue with the show. I was almost 17 at the time and was getting pretty old as well.
Age, as you know, was a killer for many of the actors as they grew up on that show. All, of course, except "Moose" who never seemed to get old. I remember once in a while seeing her in the mid-80s episodes and thinking to myself that she still looked the same as when I originally went to school with her. She was fabulous in her craft.
She’d probably kill me if I told you how I recall her getting her nickname of "Moose" but since she’s far away, I’ll chance it. Christine had the cutest, naturally curly hair which she of course hated and was always trying to flatten down with her hands. Someone made a joke that she had "antlers" which she perceived to stick out of her forehead. Thereby the nickname "Moose" which followed. Now that's my recollection of the nickname coming to be anyhow. Sorry "Moose"!
How did your parents feel about you being on the show? I've heard from some cast members that theirs were supportive, others, the exact opposite.
As far as parents went, mine were excellent. My father was the singer with the RCMP Band at the time and spent many months of the year traveling Canada and the world so I didn't see him a lot. Mom was great about it but then again, for me, this job did not go on as long as many others on the show.
I recall car-pooling with Deidre McIsaac, Christine McGlade and Cyndi Kennedy when we initially went to our acting lessons and then for the show tapings when we were cast on the same show. It was usually one of our mom's who would drive us from Ottawa's east end to the opposite end of the city where CJOH was located. Our drives to and from were always full of excitement about the new thrill in our lives, not to mention I was getting to hang out with a few gorgeous babes back then.
I always remember all the parents being very supportive in our endeavors but can also see how years of this activity could lead to difficulties. I recall my parents telling me several times they didn’t think the show was funny at all and that the shock value of certain skits appeared needless and silly (i.e. sliming, etc).
I recall Roger and Geoff putting out a letter (which I still have) to all the cast's parents just as WTYO was about to air. They wanted our parents to call all their relatives across Canada and have them call their local CTV affiliates to praise the new national show once it aired. This was apparently potentially huge in terms of getting the show to continue. I recall my parents, being westerners, calling all our kin folk all across Canada to do this. I guess it didn’t have such a great impact since the low ratings killed the show.
Do you still keep in touch with some of the cast\crew you worked with?
I did a few live musical shows after YCDTOTV, including two runs of Sounds and Saddles in 1983 and 1986. They were fund raisers at the Civic Center in Ottawa for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and involved local teen talent in singing and dancing broadway and muppets shows along with the RCMP Musical Ride and RCMP Band. I remember one of the dancers, Naida Gosselin, a great ballerina at the time for her age, had told me she had been a cast member on YCDTOTV. I think she eventually went to the National Ballet School.
I also did some singing with Bradfield Wiltse, around the early 80s, who was also a cast member in 1979. I've recently been in touch with him through his family who are still in Ottawa. He's putting out albums in Montreal.
I had heard about Kevin Somers and what he was doing in Toronto after speaking with his brother who is with the RCMP. Kevin's brother and I ended up working together as police officers at one point in Cornwall when I was doing an investigation in the mid nineties.
Other than that, I never really kept in touch with any of the old cast until I saw many of them in 2002 at the cast reunion party. I was embarrassed when I didn't recognize some of the faces after 25 years, but it didn't take long for the fog banks to lift in the old brain. It was great chatting with the likes of Mike Patton, Tim Douglas, Lisa Ruddy, Marc Baillon, Rodney Helal, Carole Hay (whom I'll always hold dear), Geoff Darby and the rest of the old gang. I missed seeing Christine McGlade, but we have been in touch by e-mail since.
I really missed seeing Cyndi Kennedy, Deidre McIsaac, Jono Gebert, Elizabeth Mitchell, Jim Stechyson, Sarah West, Kevin Schenk, Ian Fingler, David Halpin and the rest of the originals whom I missed at Slimecon 2002. Some were at the reunion, but I was working and showed up late the last day. They were all really great kids.
What have you been doing with your time since YCDTOTV?
After leaving YCDTOTV, I ended up graduating high school from Ashbury College in 1982. Funny enough, I never even realized at the time that Matthew Perry of Friends fame was at the same school doing lots of theatre. Hard to believe he never went out for YCDTOTV.
I then went on to graduate from Carleton University in 1985 with a BA in law and criminology. I joined the Ontario Provincial Police at that time and spent 14 years in eastern Ontario detachments. In 1999, I accepted an offer from the Ottawa Police to switch over and am currently working as a Sergeant in downtown Ottawa, and still love catching the "bad guys." Although I always knew I wanted to become a police officer, my second love was the performing bug. There's something about playing make believe and evoking emotion from others.
I had been doing a lot of classical singing over the last 30 years and have had some great opportunities as a result, singing with the National Ballet of Canada and with the National Arts Center Orchestra. Having sung Canada's national anthem for many events such as CFL games, including singing for Princess Diana in 1983 on her visit to Ottawa, I was invited by the NYPD in 2002 to sing the Canadian anthem on behalf of all Canadian police officers at the 1 year anniversary memorial service for the 9/11 tragedy, right at ground zero. A month later, I was again privileged to sing at the N.Y. Rangers home opener at Madison Square Garden when they played the Montreal Canadiens. Talk about being lucky!
In my spare time, I've taken up playing the bagpipes and now play with the Ottawa Police Pipes and Drums, who will travel to NYC once again this September to play at Carnegie Hall for the Second Annual 9/11 Memorial.
I have a beautiful wife who is a school teacher and the love of my life. She just recently gave me a newborn son to go along with my gorgeous 3-year-old daughter.
Hats off to the Slime Society for keeping this all alive. I don't know where you get all your energy. I've truly been blessed since my time on YCDTOTV and count it as one of the "short" highlights of my life, mostly for having had the opportunity to know and work with all those great people. I'm sure none of us originals ever thought this show would have grown to what it eventually became.
The Slime Society wants to thank Brad for shedding more light on what it was like to be a part of the original 1979 cast of YCDTOTV. Good luck with everything that comes your way, Brad.