Teddy Wilson and Ajay Fry Have the Right Stuff for Canadian Sci-Fi Fans

A chat with the men who won this year's Constellation Award for Outstanding Canadian Contribution to Science Fiction Film or Television.

By , Columnist

Bell Media 2011

Teddy Wilson (left) and Ajay Fry

The American cable channel Syfy has been getting a hammering on social networking sites since it declined to renew Stargate Universe late last year. That decision meant the end of the series and the Stargate franchise, and led to sometimes vitriolic criticisms that are still coming eight months later. North of the border, though, Canada's equivalent channel, SPACE, has continued to build a largely untarnished reputation among fans of the sci-fi, fantasy and horror genres.

Some of Syfy's disgruntled viewers have perceived a dilution of the station's commitment to what they consider to be true genre entertainment since it changed its name from "SCI FI Channel" two years ago. Regular SPACE watchers, however, extol the virtues of that station's diverse programming, even though a significant proportion of its output either comes from or also airs on Syfy. That praise often stems from SPACE's policy of bringing in highly regarded shows from other countries, (such as Doctor Who, Torchwood, Primeval, Being Human and Outcasts from Britain, and the Stargate franchise, Supernatural, Smallville and Eureka from the U.S.). SPACE also produces original programs of its own, including Sanctuary, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, Fanboy Confessional and InnerSPACE.

The last of these is the SPACE channel's magazine show hosted by the friendly faces of Canadian geekdom, Teddy Wilson and Ajay Fry. Each night that the show airs during its regular season, Teddy and Ajay, as they are affectionately known, discuss the latest episode of a primetime series and other happenings in the world of science fiction entertainment.

has grown in popularity since it debuted in 2009 with Teddy, Ajay and Natasha Eloi at the helm. Testimony to that growth was the trophy that Teddy and Ajay were presented with at last weekend's Constellation Awards. The Canadian event, which the pair also hosted, is intended to celebrate excellence in science fiction film and television. The winners are decided by Canadian viewers. Their votes determined that the presenters of InnerSPACE received the prestigious award for Outstanding Canadian Contribution to Science Fiction Film or Television in 2010.

I recently had the chance to chat with Wilson and Fry at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo to discuss their background in sci-fi, the state of the genre on television and what new shows they were looking forward to on SPACE. Here is what they had to say.

What was your introduction to sci-fi?

Ajay - Wow. Introduction to sci-fi? Probably early Doctor Who and Star Wars films when I was little. I remember playing around with lightsabers when I was like three or four years old.

Teddy - When Return of the Jedi came out I was seven so it's actually the first film I really remember seeing in a theater and falling in love with. Then I went back and rediscovered it. So for me it would be Return of the Jedi, Star Wars and then the original Doctor Who. Tom Baker, Doctor number four, was my first. I watched him on TVO back in Ontario in the early '80s.

How did you get involved with SPACE?

Teddy - I was a producer at MTV. I was a big fan of sci-fi and Battlestar Galactica. They asked me to be a panelist on a few panels to geek out and then they offered me a job.

Ajay - Prior to SPACE I was working as a host on YTV - on their Saturday morning block called Crunch - for two years. SPACE had a job posting looking for a new host for The Circuit, which was the show that preceded InnerSPACE. I saw the job posting and thought, ‘Hey, this is a great opportunity,' and made the jump. I've been loving it ever since.

Teddy - Ajay's an icon with the youth of Canada. They remember his hair.

What are the most disappointing cancellations in sci-fi TV for you in recent years?

Teddy - I was very disappointed by Stargate Universe, the fact that Syfy in the States didn't renew it. It's all about ratings but it was doing very, very well on SPACE in Canada so that was a big bummer because I loved Stargate Universe.

Ajay - I've got to echo that sentiment completely. I was so sad to see Stargate Universe not get picked up for a third season.

Teddy - I was upset that we didn't get to see where Caprica was going to go either. I think they were really finding their feet.

Ajay - Yeah. There was a lot of potential with that show. It was really gaining momentum in the second half of the first season.

How would you rate the state of TV sci-fi right now?

Ajay - I'd say in Canada it's actually quite promising. Specifically with SPACE Channel, with Bell buying CTV properties, they have a lot of faith in SPACE and I feel very reassured to see that. So I think SPACE is actually going to grow and get bigger and better as we go on. I can't really speak to the state of American sci-fi shows so much, though.

Teddy - I think it's in the best state it's ever been in. You've got shows that don't resonate and shows that do, like Being Human, that are raising the bar, and series like Supernatural that have been around for a number of seasons that I think are continuing to get better. And that's because sci-fi fans demand great content, more so than any other viewers out there. I think that's reflected in the quality of the shows.

What are you particularly looking forward to that is coming up on SPACE?

Teddy - Todd and the Book of Pure Evil Season Two; I'm very excited for that. This is a gutsy show that I think has changed the way some people view SPACE as a channel, which I think is a positive thing. I think it's brought in new viewers and I'm really excited to see how they're going to offend us in Season Two [laughs].

Ajay - I'm looking forward to watching more of Outcasts. Jamie Bamber [was] in the first episode. I loved the premise of this series so I'm looking forward to that.

SPACE airs Outcasts on Mondays at 8 pm ET and will begin new seasons of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil and InnerSPACE later this year.

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Michael Simpson is a freelance writer, editor, presenter, researcher, instructor, gadget freak and sci-tech consultant based in British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley. Formerly from the UK, he’s converted from tea to coffee and written and presented on film, TV, science, nature, technology,…

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