The Friendly Giant Has Left the Building

The children of Bob Homme, the creator and star of the long-running CBC kid's show The Friendly Giant, are taking their toys and going home.

The progeny of Homme, whose show went off the air in 1984 after a 26-year run, are offended by the use of Rusty the Rooster and Jerome the Giraffe in a skit for this year's Gemini Awards. The puppets, who were the Friendly Giant's companions in his castle, were portrayed as retirees in an old age home for bored, randy puppets from cancelled TV shows. Gerome, who would poke his head around the edge of a castle window was shown poking his head around beer taps.

"The appearance of the puppets, alone, shocked me, as the CBC is required to get our permission to use them in any way... This is the last straw (a big one) and I feel I have to address it," Ann Homme, Bob's daughter, wrote to the Globe and Mail.

She wasn't kidding. Yesterday the CBC announced to staff that the puppets were being pulled from the CBC Museum in Toronto. "After a lengthy stay with us here in the Broadcasting Centre, these iconic creations and other Friendly artifacts, which have been on loan to the CBC Museum for many years, will be going home - at the request of the family of the man who made them famous," the memo said.

So who has done more of a disservice to a beloved childhood icon? The reason that the skit got laughs 22 years after the show went off the air is people still remember the characters fondly. You can't subvert the image of a character that nobody cares about. And it is doubtful that anyone whom the show is aimed, if were still being aired, would be watching a Canadian TV awards show.

The skit itself (see below) follows in a line of shows that show puppets have a life outside of their TV life - see Greg the Bunny, Puppets Who Kill, Robot Chicken and even The Muppets.

This humour was clearly lost on the Hommes' children who are pulling the puppets from anyone who wants to go wandering down memory lane.

Update: CBC Arts has further quotes from the family and the audio from the As It Happens interview. "I'm sorry this whole thing happened, but we felt we had no choice," Richard Homme told CBC Radio's As It Happens, saying the skit was "misrepresenting the puppets. They seemed like aliens to me with their different voices. It occurred to me that this is not anything we would have approved of, as far as the script goes."


  1. I suspect the family was incensed, not by the use of the puppets, but by the use of them in such a pathetically unfunny manner. I am reminded of why I do not watch the CBC anymore. They have no programming of any redeeming value that I can find. Most notably, our national awards shows, the Geminis and the Junos are tragic embarrassments to the television industry. Surely we in this country can do better than that. Why does all of our national programming look like it was created by a small, regional TV station located in Hicksville, West Saskatchewan?

  2. Perhaps they have stumbled upon a new promotional tool. The Geminis happened over a month ago, but until the family complained I doubt anyone had thought much about the skit.

    Since then a brand new YouTube account sprung into existence yesterday and the clip of the skit has had a couple of thousand views. The skit is going Lazy Sunday on us, albeit in a Canadian way. Viva controversy!

  3. I am a close family friend of the Hommes, and they plan to put the puppets in another museum so they can indeed be available for strolls on memory lane. Also, as they say on the memo that they have had the puppets for many years, this isn't true, as I have myself seen them at the house not too long ago. A breach of trust has indeed occurred on the part of the CBC, as Bob would have been upset by this. He took great pains not to commercialize his show, not releasing silly toys and belittling commercialistic attitudes. He wanted it to remain wholesome and non-sell-outish. It is just bad taste and the family wants to keep his memory alive in a more repsectful manner.

  4. and believe me, it has not been quiet around the Homme family the past few months. They have been quite upset by this. Maybe the public didn't care as much, but values vary from person to person. no one is depriving anyone of puppets, just holding their claim onto their family rights which had been breached.

  5. Living in the States, I have never seen The Friendly Giant. But I do know of the show and the status it occupies in Canada (roughly the same that Captain Kangaroo does here). I can honestly understand why the family would have been angry at the puppets being used in such a way. At any rate, I do hope the puppets are put on display in another museum.

    An interesting bit of trivia. I don't know if you remember the puppets Kukla and Ollie from the show Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, but it was specified in puppeteer Burr Tillstrom's will specified that the puppets were never to be put on display unless it could be done so that they could speak and move. Even after his death, he wanted to keep the illusion that Kukla and Ollie were alive.

  6. this is a Canadian tragedy, over a skit. Started a group on facebook, bring back the friendly giant puppets to the CBC museum. That museum was the proper place for them. It was a skit, anyone in the public eye including puppets, are open to these things. Imagine what Air Farce would have done to those puppets!

  7. Actually, Burr Tillstrom's will states that no one can perform with the puppets, not that they can't be put on display (which has been done).