2012 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Broadcasting)
Mary Walsh has made an unparalleled contribution to broadcasting in Canada as a writer, performer, director, comedian, and political satirist. She is best known for her work on the hit CBC TV comedy series This Hour Has 22 Minutes (which she created), portraying such memorable characters as Dakey Dunn, Connie Bloor, and the legendary “Princess Warrior” Marg Delahunty, notorious for her ambush interviews with Canadian public figures. In a career spanning close to 40 years, Ms. Walsh has deftly lampooned our national icons and raised our political awareness, and her work has garnered numerous awards.
Born in 1952 in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Ms. Walsh is a founding member (1973) of CODCO, Newfoundland’s award-winning comedy troupe. “We were going to turn St. John’s into the theatrical centre of North America,” she recalls. “We haven’t done it yet, but it’s only been 40 years, so we still have a chance.” The company’s first production, Cod on a Stick (launched with $300 from 2011 GGPAA recipient Paul Thompson, then artistic director of Theatre Passe Muraille), was a smash hit and led to a CBC TV comedy series that ran for six seasons.
For CBC TV, she developed (1993) the multiple Gemini Award-winning satirical news show This Hour Has 22 Minutes, still going strong and one of Canada’s most successful television ventures. She created and hosted the literary talk show Mary Walsh: Open Book (2003), and wrote, produced and starred in the sitcom Hatching, Matching and Dispatching (2006, two Gemini Awards).
Film appearances include Mambo Italiano, Geraldine’s Fortune, Buried on Sunday, The Divine Ryans, and Young Triffie (which she also wrote, produced and directed). She made her opera debut in April 2012 with the Manitoba Opera as the (non-singing) Duchess of Krakenthorp in Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment, and is working on her first novel.
A committed activist, Ms. Walsh supports the St. John’s Resource Centre for the Arts, Oxfam Canada, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. and the Make Poverty History movement. She was profiled in the 1999 CBC TV documentary Princess Warrior: The Life and Times of Mary Walsh.
Awards and honours include Member of the Order of Canada (2000), 25 Gemini Awards, and honorary doctorates from five Canadian universities.