Do It For Yourself (Series) (1982-1985)

Do It For Yourself
Do it For Yourself was a half-hour how-to show which featured Mary Bellows doing the fix-it solo and there was also a segment dedicated to plants with Mary along with John Reeves. We produced 278 half hours and the show ran for 3 years on the CBC network. It also aired on the USA network, Lifetime and PBS in the United States. If I so say so myself it was the pioneer in fix-it type shows in that it was the first one that featured a woman doing all the work herself. It spawned many others however none was able to capture the realism or charm and humour that it exhibited. We literally built a 10,000 square foot house in a studio where all the plumbing and electrical actually worked. It was quite often humorous as things as they do at home often went wrong. Some planned and other by serendipity. We left them in which engendered a sense among the viewers of "If Mary can do it so can I" and "if I make a few mistakes along the way, it's no big deal."

-- Producer Derek Smith.

Mary Bellows .... Host
John Reeves .... Plant Expert
Ken Reeves .... Plant Expert
Zeke .... puppy #1
Hoover .... puppy #2

Original Broadcaster(s): CBC

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Comments (6)
byClick here to see the profile of this user kinderkidca, June 25, 2017
I was born and raised in NS I was 5 when this show first aired. I would never miss an episode. I remember my mother just shaking her head at me for being so taken with the show. I was so fascinated that this woman was doing it all on her own. Thank you Mary for being a pioneer!!
Simply one of the most halarious show I have ever watched. We have started a facebook page at:

Come join a very small, but growing community on Facebook. Our goal is to get her episodes digitized for us all to enjoy again ad forever.

Come join us today.
byClick here to see the profile of this user Fortuna, March 23, 2010
"It was quite often humorous as things as they do at home often went wrong. Some planned and other by serendipity. We left them in which engendered a sense among the viewers of "If Mary can do it so can I" and "if I make a few mistakes along the way, it's no big deal." "

First, I have to say... this show is legendary. I used to race home from art school and flip on the TV as I ran in the door. I was in LOVE with Mary. There was no project too complicated for her to undertake. The woman was FEARLESS. She was also 78% inept, but funny as hell as she screwed up time and again. If she didn't mess something up on every episode, she at least did things in the goofiest, least efficient way possible. Which simply added to the mystique. Some of the highlights:

The very first show I watched, she was putting together a roll-around stacked basket storage unit on casters. Simple enough. So she's in her kid's bedroom and she has the parts more or less together. She just has to tap the casters into place with a hammer and she'll be done. Does she set it on a solid surface, like the floor or a table? Not our Mary. She has this cart upside down on the bed, and she's whacking away at it with the hammer, beating the hell out of it, and it's bouncing up and down with every whack. So it takes three times as long to get the casters in place as it should. Priceless.

Remember the episode where she's trying to cut mitered trim for a door frame? She brings the lengths of trim home from Canadian Tire (or wherever she bought it) and shows how to measure, and plunges right in to cutting the miters. Except she keeps screwing up and cutting the angle backwards on each end. And she gets back in the van and goes back to Canadian Tire and buys more trim board and comes back home and plunges right in again, happily chirping away about how silly she is. And she screws it up again. And has to go back and get more trim board. If I remember correctly, she had to repeat this three times to get it right. I think this was the episode where she locked herself out of the garage. Awesome. We Americans would never dream of letting somebody screw up repeatedly like this on TV. I salute you, genius Canadian TV producer guys.

Even better - the papier mache mountain she built in the back yard for her kid's model train set. It was a thing of beauty - a perfectly crafted mountain with a tunnel for the trains to go through. All finished up and beautifully painted. So she goes to take it inside the house and... it never occurred to her to make sure she'd be able to get it through the door. I can't remember how she solved this dilemma, I just remember she was worried that it was about to rain and ruin her wonderful mountain. Spectacular.

Best of all, though... she had been working for MONTHS on a bathroom remodel. She'd make jokes about her husband and son complaining about how long the job was taking. She's finally down to the part where she's installing the new valve in the pipes for the shower. She has busted away all the tile so she can get at it, has a mess of broken tile and chipped mortar all over the place. Working away at the pipes - what confidence! I would never attempt a plumbing job like this on my own - and finally gets it all done and replaces the tile and gets it all grouted and finished and cleaned up. And the next shot, you see her out in the hallway, looking at this little door in the wall. You know the little door. It's the access door, so you can get at the pipes from behind, to do the job she has just torn out and replaced all the perfectly good tile in order to complete. Sheer GENIUS! God, I love this woman. Comedy gold.

Seriously? You guys made the best TV I have seen in my lifetime, by allowing this sweet, cheerful, plucky woman to do all her brilliant projects and screw them up in spectacular fashion, over and over again. This show was like crack for me. I've told friends about it over the years and they think I hallucinated the whole thing. I sincerely wish I could get the Canadian station these days to see repeats of this show. Is this series available on DVD? I'd love to share it with friends.

What ever happened to dear Mary? She was amazing.
byClick here to see the profile of this user wherever, December 20, 2008
I was in high school in Nova Scotia when this show first aired on CBC in the early 80's. Every day, I would race home after school to watch it. The show preceded the DIY fade of the following decade. However, none of the subsequent presenters possessed Mary's natural warmth, effortless charm, and humility. After a quarter of a century (it's been that long?), Do It for Yourself remains one of my favorite TV show. I am so proud of it's Canadian origin, and wish they would release the entire series on DVD.
byClick here to see the profile of this user gevermillion, December 2, 2008
My wife and I loved Mary because she tackled projects like we would--with enthusiasm and a wonderful sense of unpredictability. As the first reviewer wondered about the dogs--I'm wondering how the kids turned out. Remember? Misha, Talline, Whitney and Kendall...hope you're all doing well!
I still remember watching this series way back when. I am original from Detroit Michigan but we recieved your canada station (9) in our area. I remember it would come on around 3:30 in the afternoon our time. I loved this show so much, but mostly due to the host MARY BELLOWS, I adored her and still do, she just had such a great spirit, was fun to watch, You just would love to have her as a neighbor and have coffee with her every afternoon thats how I felt at least. I wish this show would come back in reruns. I often wonder how Mary is doing, and wish her well. We LOVE you Mary, oh and I cannot forget I miss ZEEK and HOOVER as well. I hope their in heaven and that god is giving them lots of "cookies" "treats" (just like Mary did). :)

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