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Beachcombers return? An animated version of the iconic TV series is in development

The announcement was made during the 50th anniversary celebrations of the program's original broadcast, held on Oct. 1 at Molly's Reach in Gibsons.
Jackson Davies and Nick Orchard (credit Michael Gurney)
Television producer Nick Orchard (right) jokes with actor Jackson Davies during an event on October 1 announcing the launch of an animated Beachcombers series.

Nick, Jesse and other characters from the long-running Beachcombers television series may return to screens, but in animated form.

The announcement was made during the 50th anniversary celebrations of the program's original broadcast, held on Oct. 1 at Molly's Reach in Gibsons.

Nick Orchard, a  former Beachcombers producer and president of North Vancouver-based Soapbox Productions, stood alongside actor Jackson Davies to announce that he and producer Blair Peters have successfully brokered a deal with the show's creators, opening the door to a cartoon version.

Davies portrayed RCMP officer John Constable in the original Beachcombers series and resumed the role in made-for-TV movies released in the early 2000s.

Beachcombers was created by L.S. (Lynn) Strange and Marc Strange. Following the broadcast of its original episode on Oct. 1, 1972, the program made Canadian television history with a run of 387 episodes over 18 seasons on CBC-TV.

In a 2017 poll conducted by the Toronto International Film Festival, the show was named one of Canada's all-time best television series.

Orchard and Peters will lead a team developing designs for the animated Beachcombers concept. They plan to make a pitch to Canadian, US and European broadcasters next spring.

Peters is an entertainment executive who co-founded Studio B Productions in 1988 before selling the firm in 2007 to DHX Media (now known as WildBrain), a Canadian production and licensing enterprise.

"The goal is to take all the best parts of the original [Beachcombers] series and build on them to tell stories with humour and heart while tackling real issues the world faces today," said Orchard. "I look forward to working with Blair who has years of animation industry experience working with all the top toon companies."

In his role with Studio B Productions, Peters developed and sold animated content to networks such as Disney, Nickelodeon, and the Cartoon Network. 

Orchard made the announcement during a reunion event at the Molly's Reach restaurant on the Gibsons waterfront. The diner figured as headquarters for the fictional log salvage company headed up by Beachcombers character Nick Adonidas, played by Bruno Gerussi. 

Actor Pat John, who died this year on July 13, depicted Adonidas's stolid business partner, Jesse Jim. John's son, Mat John, attended the reunion event and spoke about the legacy of his father, who is recognized internationally as a role model for Indigenous actors. Beachcombers was syndicated and broadcast in over 50 countries worldwide.

According to Orchard, reviving Beachcombers as an animated series will enable the reappearance of much-loved characters whose original actors have retired or died.

“We are super excited to bring these iconic Canadian characters to a whole new audience,” said Peters in a news release circulated following the announcement.

Orchard also suggested that a successful launch of the cartoon program could result in Gibsons becoming a hub for animation and television production.

 

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