CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Andrew Bush has a soft spot in his heart for Cavendish.
The Canadian comedy writer spent his childhood summers at the P.E.I. resort municipality, taking in all the tourist attractions he could.
“My favourite place was Rainbow Valley. There was a witch’s cave and an electronic owl that would answer my questions. Now I realize there was a poor soul inside that stump who was talking to me,” says Bush, recalling visiting the iconic theme park that was closed in 2005, after its owner, Earl Davison, sold the land to Parks Canada so the property could be absorbed into P.E.I. National Park.
One day, when the Nova Scotia native was feeling particularly nostalgic, he started telling his buddy Mark Little stories about his childhood vacations. This led to an idea — let's make a TV show about it and call it “Cavendish”.
The creative duo has spent the past six years revisiting Bush’s memories as they’ve developed a series that now has 100 people working on it.
“This is a heightened version of Cavendish. It’s a little bit different because we’re bending the truth. But because I grew up in the Maritimes, I see that it’s a love letter to the Maritimes and Cavendish, in particular,” says Bush, of the CBC comedy series that premieres on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 9:30 p.m., on CBC and the CBC Gem Streaming service.
His co-star also feels positive.
“I’m excited. I think people are going to like it,” says Little, well known to Canadian audiences for his work on “Mr. D.”
The series follows the Bickering brothers Andy (Bush) and Mark (Little) who haven’t been to their hometown of Cavendish since their parents split up 30 years ago. When they return to take care of their ailing father, they find that Cavendish is not like other towns. Each week, Mark and Andy get embroiled in some new misadventure involving local superstitions, and through it all, Mark remains the golden boy, buoyed by the adoration of family and strangers alike, while Andy remains the striver, desperate for the love and respect he knows he’ll never receive.
The two received lots of attention this past summer when they were on P.E.I., shooting episodes for the show.
“We travelled up and around Cavendish; driving up and down the coast. We were also able to get a drone to get some beautiful shots of the coastline,” says Little.
They also crossed the Confederation Bridge and spent a day in Charlottetown where crowds gathered on Grafton, Water and Richmond streets to watch the action.
As part of a shoot on Victoria Row it was necessary for Little, Bush and co-star Zoé Doyle to walk down the pedestrian-only street as they enjoyed cones of ice cream.
For some reason the tasks of walking, saying lines and eating ice cream didn’t go smoothly. And just before the three actors got to the end of the street, the ice cream would fall out of the cones and onto the cobblestones.
In the end it took five takes and five trips to Cows to finish the scene.
“It was a delicious series of mistakes. And the ice cream got better and better as we went along. You could tell it was delicious by the way I was eating,” laughs Little.
Now, that the production has wrapped, and they await the airing of their first episode on Jan. 8, they have mixed feelings.
“I’m very scared but also very excited for Canada to see the show. Of course, we’re hoping for Season 2, but that’s up in the air,” says Bush.
Also, after spending so much time working on the show over the past year, he’s excited to take a break.
“We’ll kick back and watch the premiere and watch another episode.”
Mark Little fast facts
- Co-founder of Picnicface, a sketch comedy group.
- Named one of Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch for 2013 and made his American television debut on Conan in 2016.
- Co-wrote and starred in the 2012 feature film Roller Town, which won the Canadian Comedy Award for Best Film.
- Starred in the feature film “Room for Rent” (D Films). His voice can be heard in two upcoming animated series: “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs” (Sony) and “Cupcake & Dinosaur: General Services”.
- Won combined 18 Canadian Comedy Awards as well as Canada’s top two stand-up competitions, the “Yuk Yuk’s Great Canadian Laugh Off” and the “Just for Laughs Homegrown Competition”.
Andrew Bush fast facts
- Got his start on the Emmy award-winning kids show, “Street Cents”.
- Nominated for two Geminis, has had roles on “Regenesis”, “Made in Canada” and “Soul” among others.
- Wrote for “This Hour Has 22 Minutes”, “Robson Arms” and “Canadian Idol”.
- Performed in a supporting lead role in “Face Fraud and Minimum Wage”, an independent feature.
- Co-wrote, appeared in and directed his first feature, “Roller Town”, under the Picnicface banner.
- Founder of the sketch comedy group Picnicface. He co-writes, acts in and directs all of the troupe’s sketches, which have been viewed online over 40 million times.
- One of the resident directors at Funny or Die in Los Angeles, and has been writer/director of dozens of sketches featuring some of the world’s top actors.