Articles - Man Alive (Series) (1967-2000)

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Man Alive

From TV Guide - June 6, 1987

Controversy envelops CBC's 'Man Alive'

By Bob Remington

In 1975, "Man Alive" aired an interview with cerebral palsy victim Sondra Diamond.

She told of a woman who came up to her laughing and pleading with her to stop those funny contortions. Diamond tried to explain in her slurred speech that she wasn't being funny; the woman laughed even harder.

Diamond also spoke of the doctors who told her that she would never be anything but a human vegetable.

At the time of the interview, she was a practicing psychologist with two university degrees.

The program was a fine example of public awareness encouraged by television. Millions of viewers for the first time saw a cerebral palsy victim as a person, not a freak.

Because of its programming philosophy—to do stories on our "fellow man"- some regard "Man Alive" as a religious program; program host Roy Bonistell has been called the "parish priest of the airwaves."

"Man Alive," however, is not religious in the strict sense; Bonisteel is neither priest nor rabbi. He's a broadcaster who hosts what might be the most moral, compassionate program on TV.

Not everyone would agree. For those who condemn CBC's perceived left-wing bias, "Man Alive" is one program that makes them see Red.

A columnist once referred to Bonisteel as a "let's-get-Marxism-in-step-with-Chrisianity kind of guy," and some "Man Alive" features have been outright bold in taking sides.

Last year the show aired a feature on a group of Canadian farmers there with agricultural methods. One of the Canadians condemned United States "aggression" after attending the funeral of a soldier killed by American-backed contras.

"This is something I wish every American mother could see," he said. "All the Nicaraguans want is peace."

Producer Louise Lore denies a left-leaning bias to "Man Alive."
"We're not about black hats and white hats," she says. "We're about grays."

Despite such controversy, nobody can deny that the show handles potentially sensational topics with rare sensivity. Bonisteel's reputation has resulted in exclusive interviews for "Man Alive" with international leaders such as Desmond Tutu and Mother Teresa.

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