‘Our resident genius’

The Tommy Banks Show, the CanCon era, and Edmonton’s shot to cultural relevancy


  • Emily Williams Political Science and History




Canadian broadcasting, Edmonton history, Tommy Banks, CBC, ITV, CRTC


Tommy Banks is popularly considered a founder of the Edmonton arts scene and one item on his long list of accomplishments was a nationally broadcasted television show, filmed out of Edmonton. The Tommy Banks Show ran for over a decade, highlighting Canadian talent and bringing world-class acts to Edmonton from 1968 to 1983. During the nation-building and Canadian Content era, this show put Edmonton on a national stage. This paper explores how The Tommy Banks Show helped put Edmonton on the map as an up-in-coming, culturally relevant metropolis within Canada. Looking at the dynamics of regionalism, Western exceptionalism, and the commercial success of the show, I explain how Banks' show was used as cultural capital in a successful bid for an independent television station in Edmonton. This is not only an important piece of local history, it is also a way of understanding the Canadian Content era in a prairie context. The legacy of The Tommy Banks Show has left its mark on the region in that it enabled talented people to gather in Edmonton and allowed Edmontonians to see the city as a place that was culturally important.