'Blades,' 'Tudors,' 'Erica' lead the schedule

Canadian pubcaster the CBC launched its fall 2010 season today at its Toronto headquarters.

Highlights include the return of the highest-rated original Canuck reality show “Battle of the Blades,” the fourth and final season of “The Tudors” and season three of “Being Erica,” which BBC Worldwide has sold to 40 countries.

In his opening remarks, CBC exec VP Richard Stursberg touched on challenges the pubcaster faced last season, including 800 job cuts in March in response to budget shortfalls.

But he quickly moved on to laud the CBC for clinching the No.2 spot during the regular season primetime (9.3% aud share), beating commercial broadcaster Global’s U.S.-driven slate (8.6 share).

“Audiences are coming back to the CBC and we’re heading into the fall 2010 season with some of the highest-rated shows in our history,” said general manager of CBC TV Kirstine Stewart.

While the pubcaster doesn’t attend the L.A. screenings, which have been going on for the past 10 days, Stewart visited Hollywood a few weeks ago to chat up a forum of expat Canuck writers and showrunners about what the CBC is looking for in terms of scripted fare.

“We can’t pay them the same money but there’s a freedom of expression here they might not get in the States,” Stewart said.

New shows include half-hour ensemble sitcom “Men With Brooms” (Serendipity Point/E1/Frantic), inspired by the popular film created by and starring Paul Gross, who will narrate each episode of the show about male-bonding at a small-town curling club.

Ratings winner “Battle of the Blades” (Insight Prods), which teams former NHL players with femme figure skaters to perform routines on ice, expands to 10 episodes this season. Former L.A. Kings star Russ Courtnall is among the ex-pros lacing up to express their sensitive side this season.

The format is getting big interest from Scandinavia and other icy nations

Other popular returning series include family drama “Heartland,” the long-running topical comedy half-hours “The Rick Mercer Report” and “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” and the 50th season of science-medicine-technology strand “The Nature of Things,” hosted by David Suzuki.

While CBC has no summer season, English and French-language CBC-TV should capture Canuck viewers next month with coverage of all 64 games in the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament, which kicks off in South Africa on June 11.

The main Canuck commercial networks hold their 2010 fall launch events next week.

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