At the Wellington Street entrance of the CBC Broadcast Centre, visitors of a certain age are met with some familiar sights from their childhoods: the treehouse from Mr. Dressup, a gang of puppets from Sesame Park, and the ratty but iconic Rusty and Jerome figures from The Friendly Giant.
Now, the family of the Giant aren’t feeling too friendly following a comedic skit shown during this year’s Gemini Awards, and they are demanding the removal of the puppets from the CBC Museum. Anne Homme, the daughter of Friendly Giant Bob Homme, feels that the clip was in poor taste and disrespected the memory of her father. The CBC is required to get the family’s permission to use them in any context outside the museum, and the family says that they would never have allowed the puppets to be used in that type of sketch.
The clip, which played during the Gemini Awards ceremony last month in Regina, finds the CBC’s iconic puppets residing at the Felt With Feelings retirement home, drinking, smoking, and and using mildly profane language (well, for puppets). Casey and Finnigan are locked inside the Tickle Trunk against their will, and a Henson-like puppet gives implied oral sex to “Curtains” from the faux Dr. Giggle’s Place.
“I’ve been sitting in this sack since 1958,” says Rusty, to significant audience applause. The Jerome puppet drowns his sorrows at a bar.
Yesterday, CBC employees were invited to “say goodbye to the real Rusty and Jerome” at a milk-and-cookies afternoon ceremony. The Giant’s castle model is also to be removed from the museum, along with other Friendly Giant props. It’s a significant loss—The Friendly Giant is one of the Ceeb’s most adored shows, running for more than 3,000 episodes before being cancelled in 1985 due to budget cuts.
Ann Homme and her brother Richard say that the puppets will reappear to the public, but will remain in storage until they examine their options. Their father, Bob Homme, who received the Order of Canada in 1998, died of cancer two years later at the age of 81, but remains one of the most beloved figures in Canadian television history.