Keeping the show on the air.

SCTV's Executive Producers

While the creative side of the show was largely run by the cast with the writers, behind the scenes, SCTV's executive producers Andrew Alexander and Len Stuart managed the business side to keep the show solvent and on the air.

Andrew Alexander

Andrew kept the whole thing going. That season in Edmonton saved us. We never would have gone on network, we never would have done those hour-and-a-half shows which got so good, without his effort.

Joe Flaherty, SCTV Behind the Scenes

When the Chicago-based Second City first established a theatre in Toronto in the early 70s, it floundered. Andrew Alexander knew Second City co-founder and owner Bernie Sahlins, and offered to pick up the Toronto debts, take over the operation and, crucially, get a liquor license. With his business partners Len Stuart and Scott Baker, he got the theatre into profitability and it is now, without a doubt, a Toronto institution.

At the same time as they were building up the Toronto theatre, with the popularity of Saturday Night Live and the fact that show was poaching Second City cast members, and after much prompting from Sahlins, Alexander agreed to try and mount a TV show. Starting a production company with his theatre partners, they did a deal with Global Television in Toronto for seven episodes. Their production company financed the show, and Global provided the studio and production facilities. They then did a deal with Jack Rhodes to syndicate the show in the states, allowing them to produce the rest of the first series along with a second.

In 1978, Global bowed out, and the show went down for a year while Alexander looked for another deal. Alexander's persistence eventually paid off when he found Charles Allard, who owned ITV, a TV station in Edmonton - which is how the show ended up moving to Edmonton for shooting. That third series would also be licensed to CBC in Canada, and continued to be syndicated in the states, where many stations found a slot for it after SNL on Saturday nights. The numbers apparently got good enough to be noticed by the network, and the Network 90 deal with NBC followed.

When the show was cancelled by NBC, Alexander and his partners did another deal, this time on the relatively new pay-TV network Cinemax, for another series. In the end, the show racked up 135-odd episodes over six series over 8 years on multiple networks. With the final demise of the show, the producers arranged further syndication by cutting the shows into half-hour episodes, ensuring SCTV would stay on the air into the next century.

Ottawa Citizen: A day in the life of a young station

Len Stuart

As Andrew Alexander's business partner in the Second City Toronto theatre, Len Stuart provided crucial financing early on to get the first shows made, and went on to become a co-owner of The Second City in 1978. He is credited by Alexander with providing much of the business savvy that allowed them to keep the show on the air.

Len Stuart 1942-2016

Chicago Tribune: Second City co-owner Len Stuart has died