Articles - Front Page Challenge (Series) (1957-1995)

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Front Page Challenge

Panel Is Too Clever

Winnipeg Free Press - Oct 22, 1960

Bill Banting, research assistant for the panel show Front Page Challenge, once worked for a travel agency and finds this experience invaluable in making out the itineraries for far-flung guests.

Guests must have a tie-in with a front-page news story. The late Erroll Flynn, for instance, was invited to appear on the program because of his part in the Cuban revolution. Actors, says Banting, usually jump at an invitation because they can get away from typecasting and be themselves.

Another part of the researcher's job is to obtain headline material and film to be used with a news story. Banting gets his newspaper headlines from a Toronto microfilm company which has newspaper tiles going as far back as 1880. He can usually get film of the news events through the CBC film library.

Now, with the show going into its fourth season, Banting admits it's getting more difficult to throw the three regular panelists off the scent of a headline. Toby Robins does extensive news research and Pierre Berton and Gordon Sinclair both have solid news backgrounds. Frequently they have covered the very news stories which they are trying to identify.

This year, to make the trio's job more difficult, producer Jim Guthro plans to use Canadian news events which may have happened just a few days, or hours, before air time.

Another gimmick he has used in the past, and may use again, is the re-use of the same news story. This was done with the headline story of the Hindenburg air disaster. In 1958 the cameraman who filmed the tragic explosion and crash of the airship was used to peg the headline. Then, last year, the same story was used with art on-the-spot radio commentator as the guest challenger.

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For an in-depth look at CBC programs (1952-82),
Blaine Allan's directory