When you are a European TV station broadcasting to a large audience, the only thing that limits programming is imagination.
Other factors, such as a "huge" Swiss expatriate community in B.C. and a venue of the same name as the one used previously, all add up to a special visit from Swiss TV to AlpenRock House in Whistler Village.
For most of December and a few weeks last summer, Swiss TV has been shooting television footage of Whistler-Blackcomb, Whistler Village and, last week, at least three days in AlpenRock House. The Paperboys, Victoria fiddlers The Carsons and Vancouver guitar and fiddle duo Zubot & Dawson performed as Canadian "folk singers" for the musical variety show Gruezi Canada, Welcome Schweiz.
Deb Wainright, a freelance Canadian television producer, is working with Swiss TV to produce 100 minutes of variety-type television for viewers in Switzerland and Germany.
"I was here when ZDF did that huge thing in the village two summers ago," Wainwright said. "And this is nothing like that. This is a low-profile thing for Whistler. But a lot of European viewers will see it so its also a good thing for Whistler."
ZDF TV, a national German television network came to Whistler Village two summers ago to film a musical variety show. The crew set up in the Town Plaza to shoot an episode of its successful show, Lustige Musikanten. At least 600 audience members came directly from Germany to see the show. Another 700 German-Canadians and expatriates also came from all over North America.
Wainwright explained there is a large contingent of Swiss expatriates in B.C., all of whom live much like the Swiss do in their homeland, celebrating Swiss holidays and following Swiss customs. Swiss TV producers knew this and Wainwright said it was no stretch to bring the show on the road to Whistler.
"They usually shoot these things at the AlpenRock House in Zurich," she said. "But when they found out there was another one in Whistler they decided to come here. Especially because its Whistler; because everybody there knows about Whistler and they love to hear about it."
Coverage will include scenes on both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, which will feature mountain vistas and singers such as The Grouse Mountain Boys, an adult mens choir, and the Edmonton Mens Choir.
"This whole thing got started from the folk music department at Swiss TV," Wainwright added. "So they wanted Canadian folk singers and its not as if we really have any Canadian folk. So we asked the bands in, like The Paperboys, because theyre Celtic and do have a folk rock sound. They really wanted some Canadian musicians in this."
The 100-minute Gruezi Canada, Welcome Schweiz show will air in Switzerland Saturday, Dec. 30 th with subsequent airings in Austria and Germany in Spring 2001. Its expected to reach an audience of more than 1 million people in German-speaking Europe.