You Can't Do That on Television

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You Can't Do That on Television (abbreviated YCDTOTV) is a Canadian television program that first aired locally in 1979 before ultimately airing internationally in 1981. It primarily featured preteen and teenaged actors in a sketch comedy format in which they acted out skits based on a theme for that episode.

After production ended in 1990, the show continued in reruns on Nickelodeon through 1994.



Local television

You Can't Do That on Television debuted in 1979 on CJOH-TV in Ottawa as a low-budget variety program with some segments performed live. The show consisted of comedy skits, music videos (usually three per episode) and live phone-in contests in which the viewer could win a variety of prizes (transistor radios, record albums, model kits, etc.). The format also included performances by local disco dancers and special guests such as Ottawa-based cartoonist Jim Unger. Every week the show took its "Roving Camera" to hangouts around town, recording kids' jokes or complaints about life, which would be played on the following week's broadcast. The show's disco dance segments were emceed by Jim Johnson, a DJ on Ottawa's leading pop music radio station, CFGO (which at the time was co-owned with CJOH). Also, after a music video aired, Johnson would tell the viewers interesting facts about the artist featured in the video.

Veteran comedy actor Les Lye played many different characters and was the only adult cast member that first season, though occasionally the older children in the cast (such as Christine McGlade or Cyndi Kennedy) played adult characters.

The show's trademark green slime dousing prank was introduced in 1979, as was the practice of using the phrase "I don't know" as a trigger for the prank.

The show was meant to offer a program for children on Saturday mornings. It made no attempt to be an educational program. The idea was successful. Only three full episodes from the first season are known to exist; the studio masters no longer exist. However, the episodes can now be downloaded and viewed via several websites.

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