The Friendly Giant

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The Friendly Giant was a popular Canadian children's television program on the CBC from September 1958 through to March 1985. It featured three main characters: a giant (played by Bob Homme), along with his puppet animal friends Rusty (a rooster who lived in a bag and played a flute) and Jerome (a giraffe). The program started in 1953 on Madison, Wisconsin radio station WHA-AM. In 1959 moved to the University of Madison, Wisconsin's WHA-TV. In 1958 Bob Homme moved the show north to Canada, where it became a staple show for several generations of young viewers.

The short, 15 minute show was perhaps most famous for its opening sequence. The traditional tune Early One Morning played on the Giant's recorder, while the camera slowly zoomed into the Giant's castle, whose drawbridge and doors opened wide in welcome. Once inside, The Friendly Giant would put out miniature furniture for his viewers beside his feet (with only his feet and hands visible), saying, "One little chair for one of you, and a bigger chair for two more to curl up in, and for someone who likes to rock, a rocking chair in the middle." and then he would say: "Now look up, look wa-a-ay up," as the camera panned slowly upwards to his face. The rest of the show focused on gentle, humourous chat between the trio, followed by a story or a musical performance. When extra instrumentation when needed, a pair of otherwise silent puppet cats - Angie and Fiddle, the Jazz Cats - join in. At the show's conclusion, the camera would zoom out and the castle's drawbridge would be raised, and as a silvery moon rose into the sky a cow would jump over it.

In 1984 the Federal government made deep cuts into the CBC budget, and The Friendly Giant was cancelled soon afterwards, though CBC executives insisted that the show's passing was unrelated to the cuts. By the time the show ended, more than 3,000 episodes of the show had been produced.

Approximately 850 episodes of the show are currently held in the CBC's archive, including early kinescopes of the earliest episodes.

Many of the props, costumes and puppets from the show are on display at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio and TV Museum in Toronto.

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