Home Television Drama Quentin Durgens, MP

Quentin Durgens, MP

1 9 6 5 – 1 9 6 9 (Canada)
6 x 30 minute episodes
35 x 60 minute episodes

One of the first hour-long Canadian drama series produced by the CBC, Quentin Durgens, MP began as six half-hour episodes entitled Mr Member of Parliament in the summer of 1965 as part of The Serial, a common vehicle for Canadian dramas.

The programme starred a young Gordon Pinsent as the titular MP – a naive rookie member of Parliament who arrives in Ottawa and quickly learns that the realities behind public service can be alternately humorous, overwhelming, and frustrating.

Consciously designed to be a distinctive Canadian series, Quentin Durgens, MP contrasted the private struggles and controversies faced by politicians with the more sedate, pompous image presented by Parliament.

Many of its plots were inspired by real-life issues and situations: Pornography, violence in minor-league hockey, gender discrimination and questions of religious tolerance were topics addressed among its episodes.

In all of them, however, the inner workings of power – with its backroom deals and interpersonal struggles – remained the backbone of the series.

The regular series of Quentin Durgens began in December 1966 as a winter season replacement.

It followed the popular series Wojeck in a Tuesday 9:00 PM time slot and, like Wojeck, was hailed as an example of Canadian television, distinct and set apart from Hollywood drama – although it was never particularly popular with Canadian viewers.

With fewer funds and resources than Wojeck, the show had to be videotaped (on location and in the studio) for its initial two seasons.

The flattened, taped images and sometimes awkward edits detracted from the documentary feel. Nor were its scripts consistently strong.

Despite the increased support in its third season (after the end of Wojeck), when all 17 episodes were filmed and in colour, the series failed to hold the large audiences Wojeck had won for the evening. Parliamentary intrigues were not fascinating enough to attract a large following, and Quentin Durgens, MP simply lacked the excitement of cop shows.

Quentin Durgens MP
Gordon Pinsent
His Secretary
Suzanne Levesque
Members of Parliament
Ovila Legere
Franz Russell
Chris Wiggins