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Degrassi Fact File

Once upon a time, far far away in the land of Canada, a man called Kit Hood -- and two women, named Linda Schuyler and Kate Taylor -- decided to continue on with a little show entitled The Kids of Degrassi Street. They thought, Lets keep some of the cast, but create new characters! Alas, they created a large variety of junior high school-aged children, and christened them with such monikers as "Joey Jeremiah" and "Caitlin Ryan." Their next step? Finding young people -- either professionals or non -- to bring their characters to life! They hung up signs, distributed flyers, and did whatever else they could to attract children. The kids came running, like hungry dogs to T-Bone steaks. Auditions were held ... and the children did their best to charm Kit, Kate, and Linda. 'Twas difficult, narrowing them down; however, the three Degrassi creators eventually made their choices. "You shall portray Joey Jeremiah," they told young Pat Mastroianni. "You shall portray Derek Wheeler. We will call him 'Wheels'," they informed young Neil Hope (a former Kids star.) Several writers and other various crew members jumped on board to help film the fictional students' first term. And on the eighteenth of January, nineteen-hundred and eighty-seven, the hard work of both cast and crew was shared with the world ... or Canada, at least ... for the first time. Slowly but surely, Degrassi Junior High climbed its way up the ladder of popularity! It moved to prime time after that first term. It became a nationwide phenomenon, and even spread to the United States (which shared the series via PBS.) For four-plus glorious years, Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High simultaneously taught and entertained their young viewers, while at the same time chalking up award after award. But ... everyone knows that all good things must come to an end. Degrassi High broadcast its final episode, "One Last Dance", in early 1991. A dramatic telefilm, School's Out, brought things to an official close. However, DJH and DH lived on in the minds of their loyal fans. Realizing this, the creators invented a NEW series -- Degrassi 2000, the Next Generation -- which is currently in the works. (A TV movie will introduce it.) May the new series find only success!

Okay, so the above passage might not be ENTIRELY factual, but it's close enough. You can read much more about each Degrassi show (including The Kids of Degrassi Street) on sites such as this one. I don't wish to ("Billy") parrot what those sites have already told you. However, here are some quick tidbits about Degrassi -- taken, of course, from such sites -- that I found particularly interesting.

A Family Thing: Several Degrassi members had family members working on the series. Stacie "Caitlin" Mistysyn's father, Robert, was the show's animation designer. Duncan "Arthur" Waugh and Annabelle "Dorothy" Waugh were siblings. Cathy Keenan, a/k/a "Liz", had a sister named Anna ... who played the extra "Rainbow" in Degrassi. Sarah Charlesworth, portrayer of "Susie", had a brother on the show, as well -- although I don't believe they appeared in any of the same seasons. His name is Christopher Charlesworth -- you probably know him better as "Scooter." Sheila Brogren, mother of Stefan "Snake" Brogren, acted out the role of Kathleen's alcoholic mother. Oh, and the twins were really twins. (Surprised?)

The same girl?: The girl in the wheelchair seen during term one was NOT Maya! She was an extra called "Avrianna." Both characters, though, were victims of spina bifida. Kyra Levy, Maya's real-life counterpart, does NOT have this disease in real life; she does have something called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. However, she was not wheelchair-bound like Maya.

I feel so shy and lonely!: So who sang the junior high and high school theme songs? A reject from The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking soundtrack? NO! Her name was Wendy Watson, and she initially played some character named Mrs. Gonzales in The Kids of Degrassi Street s.

Applause, applause!: The Degrassi shows won numerous awards, nonsurprisingly! Here are just a few: an International Emmy for the episode "It's Late" (you know, when Spike becomes pregnant); two Geminis for Best Dramatic Series; a Gemini for Best Children's Program; leading acting Geminis for both Pat Mastroianni and Stacie Mistysyn ("Joey" and "Caitlin"); a directing Gemini for Kit Hood; two different international awards for the episode "Bad Blood" (Dwayne gets AIDS); three Parent's Choice Awards; and several Awards of Excellence -- including one for School's Out! WHEW! *wiping brow*

A real school?: Nope. "Degrassi Junior High" was in fact some school called Vincent Massey Junior High School. "Degrassi High"'s actual building was an under-renovation venue called Centennial College. The schools weren't even located on the real Degrassi street! There is a real Degrassi street, but it was like an hour away.

That's it for now. Everything about Degrassi is very interesting, but as I said, you can read all about it on other wonderful sites (visit my links section, NEOW!) -- OR elsewhere on my own site. But if there's something you specifically want me to address here, make sure to let me know.=)

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