What on Earth... (partially lost animated shorts created for CBC/Canada Post Corporation; 1970s)

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Title card for the series.

Status: Partially Lost

What on Earth... was a series of approximately 60 animated vignettes featuring postage stamps from around the world. The shorts were produced for Canadian television by Crawley Films in around 1970 and originally aired on CBC between programs. In the late 1980s, the series was repurposed as filler content for Canadian channels YTV and TVOntario.[1]

Concept[edit | edit source]

In each 2-minute vignette, a narrator (possibly Chris Wiggins, according to some recollections) would recount a historic event or read through a poem over a musical background. The shorts were illustrated with postage stamps from around the world.

The vignettes' production was sponsored by the Canada Post Corporation.

Status[edit | edit source]

Only 4 episodes (What on earth is conservation; What on earth is music; What on earth is it worth; and What on earth is who we are) have surfaced online, uploaded by a private collector who claims to own 5 of the original 16mm reels. Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has entries for many of the episodes (including one for a series trailer), but the majority lack any sort of description of the content. The episodes listed in the LAC catalogue appear to be available for public viewing, but copies must either be purchased or viewed in-person at the Library in Ottawa.

No traces have been found of episodes 35, 37 - 42, 44, 45, 51 and 60. If these were indeed produced, they appear to be completely lost.

One episode, Who on earth is David, is mentioned in the 1968 publication Business screen magazine[2] under a list of films by Crawley, but no episode with that name exists in the LAC collection. Its episode number is unknown.

Episode List[edit | edit source]

Episode number Episode title Known information
1 What on earth is conservation Video link
2 What on earth is music Video link
3 Why on earth are you waiting, Emily
4 Where on earth is the hunter
5 What on earth is it worth Television vignette about the auctioning of a pair of one penny postage stamsps for the sum of $380,000. Item follows CBC public affairs program TUESDAY NIGHT, 12 January 1971. <2mn>[3] Video link
6 Where on earth have they gone
7 What on earth pussy cat
8 Where on earth is old MacDonald
9 Where on earth are the hearts of oak
10 What on earth will you do, my son
11 Where on earth have you been
12 When on earth will we, my love a 3min lyrical animation film illustrated with stamps from Austria, Chekoslovakia, Romania, USSR, San Marino and the Maldives. The soundtrack is a poem titled To His Coy Mistress written by Andrew Marvell (1621–1678) [4]. Video link.
13 What on earth makes this world go around
14 When on earth does the snow fall
15 What on earth is the feel of the autumn
16 What on earth is dripsody
17 How on earth will I know you
18 Where on earth is the Marakesh Express?
19 Who on earth will stay for breakfast
What on earth will make her sing
21 What on earth is the Chankley Bore
22 Where on earth do the birds fly
23 Why on earth does a dolphin smile
24 Who on earth shares our space
25 Who on earth is the prisoner
26 Who on earth was this dust
27 Where on earth is home
28 What on earth will wake the bears
29 Where on earth will you, bee
30 Who on earth is the pumpkin's midwife
31 What on earth is prayer
32 Unknown
33 Where on earth is the shampoo
34 Who on earth is a sovereign worth
35 Unknown
36 What on earth have you done, Mr. Christian The story of mutiny on HMS Bounty is told, illustrated with postage stamps from around the world.[5]
37 Unknown
38 Unknown
39 Unknown
40 Unknown
41 Unknown
42 Unknown
43 What on earth is going on
44 Unknown
45 Unknown
46 What on earth is Casey Jones Television vignette. A montage of postage stamps from around the world depicts the history of the railway train.[6]
47 What on earth is cornucopia
48 What on earth is happy
49 What on earth is three score and ten
50 What on earth does she want
51 Unknown
52 What on earth is a good sport
53 What on earth are other noises
54 What on earth is where you are
55 What on earth and in the sea
56 What on earth is out of her mind
57 Who on earth let this out of the bottle
58 What on earth goes bump in the night
59 Who on earth will share his table
60 Unknown
61 What on earth do you say Mr. Sun
Unknown Who on earth is David

References[edit | edit source]