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Rick Mercer is one of the familiar faces returning to CBC's television lineup this fall. (CBC)
Rick Mercer is one of the familiar faces returning to CBC's television lineup this fall. (CBC)

Television

Cover bands, Camelot epic, Don McKellar comedy join CBC fall lineup Add to ...

An elimination-style music competition, a new comedy from Don McKellar, a sexy fantasy from the makers of The Tudors and a series of 75th anniversary specials are among the highlights of CBC's upcoming fall TV schedule.

The public broadcaster says it's beefing up its Sunday lineup with the reality series Cover Me Canada, hosted by former All Saints singer Nicole Appleton, and a new season of the skating series Battle of the Blades.

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Meanwhile, McKellar directs and Bob Martin writes the new comedy Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays; Canadian comic Gerry Dee helms Mr. D; CBC Radio's The Debaters makes the leap to TV; and the epic sword series Camelot, starring Joseph Fiennes, takes over Tuesday.

Mid-season additions include Kevin O'Leary's reality series Redemption Inc., a one-hour adventure series about a maverick airline based in Yellowknife called "Arctic Air" and the sequel to last year's Don Cherry biopic Keep Your Head Up, Kid: The Don Cherry Story, Part 2.

Appleton, McKellar, as well as supporting cast from Camelot and Battle of the Blades were among the stars set to attend a presentation at CBC headquarters this afternoon.

Citytv, CTV, and Global revealed their lineups last week, touting big-budget US purchases including Citytv's dinosaur drama Terra Nova, Global's North American reboot of Prime Suspect and CTV's Simon Cowell series, The X Factor.

Kirstine Stewart, who took over from previous English Services boss Richard Stursberg last summer, says the CBC heads into its 75th season "in an exceptionally strong position."

"And the fact that we're able to build this on the basis of Canadian programming, I think, is really starting to stand out compared to some of the other broadcasters who understandably use other programming," she said Wednesday before the presentation.

CBC says it will mark its landmark birthday with 75 days of specials. They begin Aug. 21 with the documentary, 1 Day (1 jour), which captures one day in the life of Canada.

On Sept. 4, Martin Short helms the one-hour special, Long Story Short: CBC Turns 75, featuring memorable TV and radio moments from the CBC archives and guests Anne Murray, Norman Jewison, Cynthia Dale, kd lang, and Lorne Michaels.

On Sept. 19, Shawn Doyle ( Endgame, Desperate Housewives, Big Love) stars as Sir John A. Macdonald in the TV movie, John A: The Birth of a Country.

Auditions are already underway for Cover Me Canada, which debuts Sept. 18.

Until July 8, unsigned Canadian musicians and groups aged 12 and up are invited to submit their take on either Gordon Lightfoot's Sundown, Bryan Adams' Run To You, Tom Cochrane's Life is a Highway or Alannah Myles' Black Velvet.

Finalists will compete live on television for a $100,000 cash prize and a recording contract for their first original single to be released by Universal Music Canada.

For sports fans, CBC said it is adding a pre-game show for Hockey Night In Canada on Saturday afternoons.

Stewart said she was most excited by the new comedies, especially Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays. The series stars Martin as a therapist who holds bi-weekly sessions with a patient.

"It's a very thoughtful comedy and I think its cleverness will bring people along but at the same time it's not over-intimidating, it makes you laugh," says Stewart.

"It does touch things in your real life."

Returning fall shows include Rick Mercer Report, The Ron James Show, 22 Minutes, InSecurity, Republic of Doyle, Being Erica, and Dragons' Den, which introduces a new dragon - Lavalife co-founder Bruce Croxon.

CBC's daytime schedule adds the cooking show In The Kitchen With Stefano Faita and back-to-back episodes of Coronation Street. Meanwhile, late night will see George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight return to its one-hour format.

Series returning midseason include Republic of Doyle, Marketplace and the farewell season of Little Mosque on the Prairie.

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