Originally published on Torontoist on January 6, 2009.
Broadcaster, March 1980.
Most of Torontoist’s recent reports on Astral Media have centred on their outdoor advertising unit and its role in the city’s new street furniture. We’ll take a short break from our continuing coverage to look back at what Astral’s television distribution arm was up to in 1980, when it offered programming that included a venerable prank show, adventure travel, and a mini-series starring David Niven as a World War II Canadian spymaster.
One client was TVOntario, who aired the Canadian version of Kidsworld, a current affairs show for the junior set. Of the other shows listed, the one that probably received the widest distribution was the compilation of sketches from The Carol Burnett Show.
Astral dates its origin to 1961, when four brothers in Montreal launched Angreen Photo, which quickly landed the photo finishing concession for the Miracle Mart discount department store chain. By the end of the decade the company had expanded into film production and its own chain of photo stores. As for the other components of Astral’s corporate name in 1980, Bellevue was a Montreal photo lab acquired in 1963, while Pathé-Humphries operated film and recording studios in Toronto prior to being purchased circa 1967.
Within a year of today’s ad, Astral’s film arm produced a movie that raked in money for years: Porky’s.
Astral Media eventually faded into history, dissolving into Bell Media in 2013. I tried looking for videos of the TVO version of Kidsworld, but only found samples of the American edition, which looks like it was shot on a lower budget.