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NFB to TV: 4 films that have become television shows

NFB to TV: 4 films that have become television shows

NFB to TV: 4 films that have become television shows

Sometimes, a film leaves us wanting more! Isn’t it cool when a film becomes the spark for a TV series?

For example, it’s a little-known fact that one of Canada’s most popular TV series of all time, Trailer Park Boys, now shooting its 10th season, blossomed from Mike Clattenberg’s 1999 film.

Today we’re sharing some of the NFB films that were such a hit, they spawned popular TV series.

Bob’s Birthday

Bob's Birthday, Alison Snowden & David Fine, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Bob and Margaret, an animated cartoon TV series (1998-2001), achieved popularity around the world. The creators, married couple David Fine and Alison Snowden, captured the existential angst of middle-aged married life with wry wit, through the stories of a hapless British couple – dentist Bob, and his chiropodist wife Margaret.

But it all started with Bob’s Birthday. In this classic animated short, Margaret plans a birthday celebration for her husband, but drastically underestimates the impact of middle age on his mood.

In addition to spinning off into a TV series, the film also won the 1995 Oscar® for Best Animated Short Film.

Me and the Mosque

Me and the Mosque, Zarqa Nawaz, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Me and the Mosque is a feature documentary produced as part of the Reel Diversity Competition for emerging filmmakers of colour, a shared initiative of the NFB in partnership with CBC Newsworld. Director Zarqa Nawaz examined the relationship between modern Canadian Muslim women and their relationship to their place of worship, the mosque.

This documentary was the seed that grew 6 seasons of the beloved, internationally-acclaimed, award-winning CBC TV comedy series, Little Mosque on the Prairie (2007-2012). Set in the small, fictional Canadian prairie town of Mercy, Muslims and Christians live and love together.

Peep and the Big Wide World

Peep and the Big Wide World, Kaj Pindal, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Here’s a sweet one for the kids: Peep and the Big Wide World is a series of 3 10-minute animations geared to children aged 3-5, following the adventures of Peep the chicken, Chirp the robin and Quack the duck, narrated by Sir Peter Ustinov.

This chicken did come home to roost (sorry! had to!) years later, when Peep and the Big Wide World was adapted into an award-winning animated children’s TV series that began in 2004 and continues today, with a scientific bent and an online hub with fun games for the little ones.

Added bonus: Peep Show, also by Kaj Pindal, was produced in 1962 and provides an even earlier glimpse of the acclaimed cartoon.

Mohawk Girls

Mohawk Girls, Tracey Deer, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Mohawk Girls takes us inside modern-day youth culture in the Kahnawake Mohawk community just across the river from Montreal. The film provides an intimate look at the lives of 3 young women living on the reserve. Shot over 2 years, it was the winner of the Alanis Obomsawin Best Documentary Award.

This film was the inspiration for the APTN/OMNI comedy TV series of the same name that premiered in 2014: a funny, fictional, yet still very true-to-life look at life ‘on the rez’. Full episodes of Season 1 are online. The film is available on DVD.

And for fun, here’s a short clip talented director Tracey Deer in action on set!


Alexandra Yanofsky is a film and television producer and researcher. She produced the NFB Films The Colour of Beauty, Jaded and Taxi Libre, for Work for All, an initiative about racism at work.

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