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The Beachcombers set to make comeback

GIBSONS, B.C. (CP) -- Twelve years after cameras stopped rolling on The Beachcombers, Canada's longest running TV drama is about to make a comeback.

The CBC has approved a two-hour pilot movie called The New Beachcombers.

It could air as early as Octber -- 30 years to the month the first Beachcombers episode hit TV screens.

A lot of important people sat down in a room and came up with the name, The New Beachcombers, joked lanky actor Jackson Davies, the likable RCMP officer Constable Constable in the original show.

This week, Davies visited Molly's Reach, the Gibsons restaurant synonymous with the show, to promote the pilot with Nick Orchard, president of North Vancouver-based Soapbox Productions.

Orchard, the production manager on the original show, said the pilot movie is the result of more than a year's negotiations with CBC.

The timing of the Beachcombers' return could not be better, he said.

It's the 50th anniversary of the CBC this year and The Beachcombers ran for 19 years, making it Canada's longest running drama, Orchard said.

Davies will return as the friendly RCMP officer, but not all of the shows popular characters have been recast.

It's different now and no one else could play Nick or Relic, Orchard said.

Bruno Gerussi, who played log salvager Nick Adonidas, died in 1995, aged 67.

Robert Clothier, who played Relic, died in 1999, aged 77.

Instead, The New Beachcombers will feature a younger cast, predominantly in their mid-20s, Orchard said.

Dave Thomas, best known as Doug, one-half of the McKenzie Brothers, will appear in the pilot show, possibly as proprietor of Mollys Reach.

A new series of episodes will depend on audience reaction to the two-hour pilot, said Susan Morgan, CBC's creative head of dramatic series.

It can be a couple of years before these decisions are made, she said.

CBC cancelled the show, which aired in more than 50 countries, in 1990 after a schedule change saw its audience drop off sharply.

The shows 19-year run made Gibsons, on the Sunshine Coast about 40 kilometres northwest of Vancouver, the most recognized harbour in Canadian television and identified with a community in a way no other North American series has, Davies said. (More on: The Beachcombers).

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