Games O' Canada - Just Like Mom


CTV: 1980 - 1985

Hello there game show fans and welcome to the Games O’Canada a brand new feature on Game Show Garbage saluting the game shows from North of the border: the good, the bad and the ugly. I’m your special correspondent Marc Power. Before we get started, I would like to say thank you to Cyndi Seidelman for allowing me to do this. I am very grateful for the opportunity Cyndi, I won’t let you down. After watching the games of ’90 I noticed there were quite a few U.S. shows that aired that were actually produced in Canada and subjected to the CANCON regulations. It got me thinking, there’s been a lot of shows produced in Canada and intended solely for Canada. So ergo:  The Games O’ Canada.

Let me clarify, the Games O’ Canada will not include shows that were already covered on this site either as an induction or during said games of ’90. So shows like Talk About, The Last Word, Baloney and Hold Everything....we really don’t need to talk about them again and much like the games of ’90. This feature won’t just be dedicated to bad shows but good shows as well. Furthermore as I do speak French we will even be able to get into French-speaking shows produced in Quebec in what has actually become a hotbed for game shows including many foreign imports.

With all that said, I decided a good place to start would be a long running kid’s show, It ran 5 years and was very popular, But there is one element to it in particular that when you watch it now you wonder how no parent ever knocked the host out or how the host wasn’t labelled a child predator......ladies and gentlemen I give you: Just Like Mom.


Just Like Mom was a game show for children and their moms. Wikipedia claims dads occasionally appeared on it, but I’ve yet to see an episode with a dad. The show premiered in 1980 and ran in syndication until 1985 and aired in reruns on GameTv and was taped at the CFTO-TV studios in Toronto.The show was originally hosted by actor Stephen Young,  The announcer was sports broadcaster Fergie Olver and the hostess and creator was former Miss Canada (and then Mrs. Fergie Olver): Catherine Swing.


By the 2nd season Fergie moved in front of the camera and co-hosted with his wife.   Stephen’s hosting seemed okay to me, A bit hokey but that kinda works for a kid’s show. Catherine did fine with what little she was given to do during the first season so I’m glad they eventually gave her more camera time. Fergie well.....we’ll get into that later.

Looking at the set, the theme music and the presentation, it becomes clear very quickly that its a low budget show, and honestly it’s something we’ll talk about a lot on this feature. Many Canadian game shows especially in the 70s and 80s and even some more current ones have limited budgets. I think the reason is very simply Canada is a smaller Country than the U.S. (approximately 1/10th) so there aren’t as many TV viewers, ergo less advertising revenue, less money to spend. Many shows can piggy back on U.S. syndication but often suffer from limited clearance.

The show features 3 teams made up of kids and their moms and essentially plays like a newlywed game clone. While the moms are secluded off stage, the kids are asked a personal question and answer as they think their mom would. The moms are later brought back on stage and try to match answers. A match on the first question is worth 10 points, the 2nd is worth 15 points.

Before the 2nd round, the kids participate in the bake-off. The kids are given a dish (usually a dessert) to prepare they are given 90 seconds (reduced to 60 seconds starting in the 2nd season) to mix the ingredients together, the catch is, they are not given the recipe and in addition to the necessary ingredients, they are given some that are not in the recipe.

While the kids get cleaned up, the moms play the 2nd round which is just like the first round except the questions are worth 20 and 25 points if the kids later match their answers.

The final round is the taste test, the moms are each given a sample of the kids cooking from earlier and have 30 seconds to taste each of them and then try to guess which one was made by their child.

Originally the moms wrote down a number on a card, but the cards were later replaced with paddles. If they choose correctly they earned 50 points. I guess there was supposed to be some humor here with the moms eating unpleasant dishes (which did happen man times) but fact is, You can only see a kid put mustard in peanut butter balls so many times and still find it funny. Plus the point structure is flawed because the rest of the game is nearly pointless with the bulk of their points earned here but what is essentially a guess.  The team with the highest score won the game.

Originally, the team won a prize package and that was it. The prizes were typical fare for game shows in Canada for the time: Cheap.....rally cheap. But later on, a bonus game was added called carousel corner.

The child would simply spin a 16-wedge wheel and win the prize they landed on.

Again the prizes were largely cheap but on 4 of the wedges was the grand prize: a trip for two to Disneyworld. If two or more teams tied, they each got to spin. On some episodes twins played with their moms, on these shows each of the two kids got a spin, but if they won the trip to Disneyworld on the first spin, the 2nd spin would be negated. Kinda weird though how the prize is a trip for TWO to Disneyworld when there’s at least a dad and maybe more kids in the family. It would pretty much force the family to ether buy more tickets themselves, sell them or face the difficult decision of who goes and who doesn’t get to go.

This “twins” team won the trip to Disneyworld. (Bet it was awkward deciding who gets to go)

So I put off talking about this, But here’s what makes the show really cringeworthy when you watch it now. When hosting a kid’s show. The host has the additional challenge of appealing to the kids, Some hosts are able to do this naturally like Marc Summers on double dare, Greg Lee on Carmen Sandiego and J.D. Roth on Fun House.  Others try to act hip and fall flat on their face like Phill Moore and Robb Edward Morris. Co-host Catherine Swing, I thought had it down pat, She seemed natural with the kids and made them comfortable in a very mother-like nurturing way.


But I can’t say the same for her now ex-husband Fergie Olver. Fergie decided he was going to try to appeal to the young girls by being a flirt......yeah you read that right. HE WAS FLIRTING WITH LITTLE GIRLS! It’s nothing short of a miracle how nothing ever became of it.  I could look past Fergie calling a little girl “pretty” but it got cringe worthy when Fergie would ask a girl for a kiss. There have been cases of girls who said no and he continued to push it resorting to sneaking a kiss on some girls who clearly hated it and telling one girl that if she gave him a kiss, she could “win the show” and when she still said no he said “well I guess you can’t win the show”.......


Thank you Daniel Bryan! THAT IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE! First of all, Standards and Practices alarms should have been going off since that would imply he’s willing to fix the show for sexual favors. Remember, he is also the producer of this show and married to the show’s creator. Second of all, these are little girls: 12 AND UNDER!!!. Does Fergie not realize it’s making him look like a huge pervert and a child predator? Third, Fergie is doing this in front of his then-wife (they are now divorced incidentally). There is even one episode as Fergie goes into his “schtick”, Catherine can clearly be heard calling him a “dirty old man”. I am in shock that this went on for so long and no action ever happened. Personally, If I had a daughter and saw Fergie acting like that to her I’d be willing to risk getting arrested, charge the stage and knock his ass out!  Furthermore, where was a network executive or a sponsor to tell Fergie to knock it off?   

For more on this just look it up on youtube there are tons of videos with proof of Fergie’s actions. I guess Fergie thought it was cute and funny and it was a way to relate to the kids, but it was just wrong!  I would like to think Stephen Young was dropped as host to cut costs on the show or he left for whatever reason, but if that was the case, I would have preferred if Catherine had just hosted the show herself for the rest of the run and we wouldn’t be talking about this.

And that was Just Like Mom, the show was a newlywed game clone with cheap prizes and a cringe worthy host, but somehow the cheese factor and cutesiness made the show memorable and kept it running  5 years and over 600 episodes.


Incredibly, despite the horrible image this leaves the show. The format rights were purchased by Toronto based production company Marblemedia in 2009 and after years of development, a revival called “Just Like Mom and Dad” premiered recently on the YEStv network in Canada and BYUtv in the US. The revival is hosted by husband and wife Kylee Evans and Sandy Jorbin-Bevans. Cyndi recently reviewed this and apparently after 9 years of development they didn’t change a damn thing, except the host manages to refrain from Fergie’s perv-like tactics.

Next time, we’ll celebrate the arrival of Supermarket Sweep on Buzzr by talking about the Canadian version of Sweep. It just goes to prove that even a good franchise can be bad when it’s placed in the wrong hands. I’m Marc Power, Au revoir...

Just Like Mom is produced by Just Like Mom Productions and Fergie Oliver Productions,
Just Like Mom and Dad is produc
ed by Marblemedia.

No challenge to ownership is implied.


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