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CJOH Revives Hit Children's Show

By: Tony Atherton
Published in the Ottawa Citizen, 1989

CJOH returns to the scene of one of its marketing triumphs this fall with the revival of You Can't Do That On Television.

YCDTOT (sic), the show that introduced the "secret word" to kid's TV when Pee-Wee Herman was still raising only adult eyebrows, and made Ottawa's Les Lye a minor celebrity at shopping-mall openings across the U.S., goes back into production this fall.

After a sabbatical abroad, writer-producer Roger Price, who created You Can't Do That for CJOH several years ago, is back in Ottawa this week to begin the the search for eight pubescent prodigies to take up where the old crowd left off, lampooning the trials and tribulations of youth in skits and monologues.

CJOH vice-president Bryn Matthews says Nickelodeon, the U.S. children's cable network, had ordered 20 new episodes of the series. In the past couple years, You Can't Do That has become the linchpin of Nickelodeon's after-school schedule. The new episodes will begin in the U.S. early next year, and CJOH will try to sell the series to CTV or one of the newly approved Canadian specialty channels for broadcast soon after. Barring that, the shows will at least appear on the local station by the following fall.

Auditions are set for later this month for the new crew of youngsters age 11 to 13 to star with Lye, the only consistent adult role in the 98 episodes to date. Would-be stars should be energetic, enthusiastic and willing to wash copious amounts of the show's trademark green slime out of their hair.

But previous acting experience isn't essential, says Matthews. Drama coaching will take place over the summer, and "Roger will write to suit the cast he chooses...(he) is particularly gifted at taking kids who have no real experience and bringing them along to a level where they're quite good."

If you've seen the old shows, you know what to expect from the new one. "You Can't Do That On Television has a particular formula that I wouldn't dream of touching," says Matthews. That formula includes none-too-gentle ribbing of pre-teen peeves like parents, school, chores, and rules.