The Beachcombers is firmly associated with Gibsons and the Sunshine Coast. Although the popular CBC TV series is long over, it remains imprinted in the memories of Canadians who grew fond of the quirky stories of the scenic seaside village, on the edge of Canada and away from big city life. Filmed in 'real time,' the comedy-drama ran from October 1, 1972 to December 12, 1990 and holds the record for the longest-running dramatic series ever made for English Canadian television. In all, 387 episodes were produced and it was viewed in over 60 countries around the world.
It can now be considered an important piece of Canadian film history, as well as valuable documentation of life in Gibsons. It was a Canadian 'original' and one of the first major Canadian series that did not follow an American prototype. The show was also at the forefront of its time when it came to representing First Nations culture and actors. Squamish elder Chief Dan George often made guest appearances on the show. He is best known for his role opposite Dustin Hoffman in the film "Little Big Man." Dan George passed away in 1981.
Nick, the Greek beachcomber, was the main character played by Bruno Gerussi. Gerussi was born in Medicine Hat and attended the Banff School of Fine Arts. He joined the Stratford Festival in 1954 to become a respected Shakespearean actor at Stratford and London. Bruno starred in other TV series, including "Celebrity Cooks". He passed away in 1995 at age 67. Robert Clothier played Relic, Nick's arch rival. He too was a veteran stage and TV actor. Clothier was born in Prince Rupert in 1921 and studied architecture before pursuing sculpting and theatre in England. He passed away in 1999.
Constable John Constable, played by Jackson Davies, was another memorable character in the series. Jackson Davies and Marc Strange, who co-created the series, are writing a book about Bruno Gerussi and The Beachcombers, as a part of next year’s 40th anniversary of The Beachcombers.
The CBC is streaming a Beachcomber episode from 1975 as part of CBC's 75th anniversary. Check it out at http://www.cbc.ca/75/2011/08/the-beachcombers-invisble-relic.html.
Be sure to stay posted for upcoming Beachcomber exhibits and events planned for the 40th Anniversary in 2012!