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History of Reach for the Top

In the beginning, Reach for the Top was a program on CBC from 1965 to 1985. Alex Trebek was even the host at one time! The following is the official press release from CBC in 1965 prior to Reach for the Top's television premiere.


September 24, 1965

Number 220

Reach for the Top, and high school quiz program designed as entertainment for young people and adults, makes its debut on CBLT, Monday, Oct. 4, at 6 p.m. EDT.

The series, produced by Neil Andrews in co-operation with the Metropolitan Toronto boards of education, will feature CBC announcer Warren Davis as host.

In describing the new series, producer Andrews points out that Reach for the Top is not strictly an educational program.

“It’s a quiz program in which participants have an opportunity to demonstrate their capacity for quick recall of general information.

“We intend to provide the students with experience in a TV studio and an opportunity to develop poise and self-confidence in performance. It will be a community enterprise designed for wholesome entertainment,” says the producer.

Each week the program will feature eight, high-calibre students representing two Metro high schools. The students, four from each school, are selected by their principals.

Warren Davis will pose questions to the two teams, based on information derived from encyclopedias, which cover such topics as world affairs, ancient history, art, medicine, literature, geography, sport, modern history, general knowledge, religion, music, mathematics, Canadiana, science and people.

“Each question and answer will be carefully checked by our program research personnel,” says Andrews. “In addition we will have as an off-camera adjudicator, Dr. Charles Booth, formerly deputy minister of education for the province of Ontario.”

At the end of each program students will receive certificates for their participation and the winning school will receive prizes such as dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Grand Champion Team for the Metro area at the end of the season will be the recipient of the Reach for the Top trophy and a scholarship of $1,000, donated by CBLT.