5 Canadian Screen Award nominees pulling in international audiences

The Littlest Hobo, Fashion Television, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Slings & Arrows, You Can't Do That on Television, Flashpoint — Canadian TV shows are are no strangers to international success.

In this new golden age of television and streaming service binge-watching, a fresh slate of homegrown productions (and co-productions) are finding audiences both at home and abroad. 

Canadian TV creators have a good rep internationally, according to entertainment industry veteran Charles Falzon, dean of Ryerson University's faculty of communication and design and chair of its RTA School of Media.

Even though Canada has "some of the same pop culture strengths" of our American neighbours, we're different.

"There's more inclusiveness, more diversity, topics handled from slightly different perspective," Falzon told CBC News.

Because of our much smaller TV industry and level of resources, Canadians sought out partners and markets abroad long before the current boom in international co-productions, said Falzon, who says he was selling independent Canadian TV productions to foreign broadcasters 30 years ago — something few countries were doing at the time. 

"What we've lacked in resources we made up for in international perspective," he said.

"It gives us our advantage. We've been exporting programs for much longer than most countries in Europe…. We have a culture of international engagement."

With the Canadian Screen Awards taking place this week, here's a look at a few nominees that demonstrate our global appeal.

Orphan Black

As it heads into its final season this June, Orphan Black is one of Canada's most recent success stories. Leading this year's CSA nominees with 14 nods, the Space and BBC America sci-fi drama about clones has garnered widespread acclaim for its smart, provocative, densely layered yet entertaining story and for its incredibly versatile star, Tatiana Maslany. 

The complex role — Maslany has juggled portraying about a dozen clones on the sci-fi tale over the past four seasons — has also vaulted her into the big leagues and garnered the talented, enthusiastic Regina-born performer an Emmy Award last fall for best lead actress in a drama. Plainly stated: "Orphan Black works everywhere," Falzon said.

​Love It or List It

You've got a hit on your hands when people in other countries want to buy and replicate your format, which has been the case for breakout W Network, HGTV and OWN Canada series Love It or List It. Since its debut in 2008, the lifestyle show has gamely mixed together the engrossing topics of real estate and home decor, adding liberal doses of tension and reality TV-style drama. Even Hillary Clinton's a fan, once citing Love It or List It as a "calming" favourite.

Buoyed by the Toronto-based original, creator Big Coat Productions has also launched a West Coast spinoff and a vacation homes edition. The show is also seen in European and South American markets, the format sold to the U.K. and Australia. (Too bad about that pesky lawsuit).

Paw Patrol


If you've got toddlers, preschoolers or kindergarten kids in your life, you probably know more than you want to about Paw Patrol. Created by the Brit behind Bob the Builder, the colourful, rollicking cartoon is nevertheless a homegrown smash produced by Canadian toy and entertainment firm Spin Master and brought to life by Toronto animation house Guru Studio.

Since Paw Patrol's debut on TVO Kids and Nickelodeon in 2013, Ryder and his helpful, happy-go-lucky rescue dogs have captivated kids in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia (the toyetic show has been sold to networks in more than 160 countries). Now, the canine crew is expanding with a slate of live touring shows (not to mention endless tie-in merchandise).

Murdoch Mysteries

It may have 10 seasons and more than 150 episodes under its belt, but CBC's turn-of-the-century crime series Murdoch Mysteries is showing no signs of waning in popularity. The Shaftesbury Films production — known in the U.S. as The Artful Detective — encompasses drama, comedy, history, police procedural, romance, mystery and more, swirling everything together into an earnest, agreeable, globally appealing package broadcast in more than 110 countries and territories.

The show's incredibly engaged, international fan base (apparently the French are especially ardent) has even sparked a convention-inspired gathering that unites Murdoch devotees each summer.

Vikings