The Gemini Awards were presented annually from 1986 to 2011 by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television to honour achievement in Canada’s English-language television industry. The Gemini Awards succeeded the ACTRA Awards and were merged with the Genie Awards in 2013 to form the Canadian Screen Awards. The Gemini’s French-language counterpart, the Prix Gémeaux, were founded in 1987 and continue to honour the television industry in Québec.
In 1986, the original ACTRA Awards were absorbed into the Academy of Canadian Cinema, the governing body of the Genie Awards, which then changed its named to the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. The name Gemini was chosen for the award because it reflects the “complementary nature of creativity and technology, fiction and reality, artists and craftsmen,” as well as the work of industry professionals both in front of and behind the camera. The trophy statuette, a bronze outline of a face in profile, was designed by award-winning designer and artist Scott Thornley.
The first Gemini Awards celebrated the achievements of television members of the Academy and were held on 21 April 1986; awards were given out in 87 categories. By 2011, awards were given out in 114 categories. The Gemini Awards also included several special awards, such as the Earle Grey Award, presented to an individual or group for lifetime achievement in Canadian television. Awards in digital media categories were introduced in 2003.
In 2012, following “extensive industry consultation and outreach,” the Academy announced that it would merge the Gemini and Genie Awards into the Canadian Screen Awards, which were first held in Toronto on 3 March 2013 and broadcast on CBC Television. Academy CEO Helga Stephenson explained that merging the awards for television and film was part of an effort “to put a much bigger spotlight on those industries.”
Shows and individuals were submitted for nominations by their production company or the show’s producer. All entries were subject to the rules and regulations of the Gemini Awards, which were reviewed annually by a committee comprised of industry professionals. Nominations were then determined by a peer jury in each category. Juries were comprised of between five and seven Academy members, as well as other industry professionals with expertise in the field related to the category in question. Jury members were selected by a jury chair and screened by the Academy for any possible biases.
Jury members reviewed all of the submissions in their designated category according to a set of criteria and selected a maximum of five nominations per category. Votes for the nominations were cast by secret ballot. The balloting process was audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Awards were determined much in the same way as the nominations — votes for performance and craft categories were cast by Academy members with expertise in that particular field (e.g., actors vote for acting categories and writers vote for writing categories). However, every voting member was eligible to vote for the program categories (e.g., Best Dramatic Series and Best Comedy Program or Series).
List of 25 Best TV Shows
In celebration of the Gemini Awards’ 25th anniversary in 2010, the Academy asked a panel of experts to determine the 25 best English-language Canadian television shows of all time, and then opened the voting to fans in an online poll. The final results were:
1. Degrassi (all four series, 1980–Present)
2. Flashpoint (2008–12)
3. Mr. Dressup (1967–96) (see Ernest Coombs)
4. Anne of Green Gables (mini-series, 1995)
5. Durham County (2007–10)
6. Holmes on Holmes (2001–09)
7. Due South (1994–99)
8. Being Erica (2009–11)
9. Corner Gas (2004–09)
10. The Friendly Giant (1958–85) (see Robert Homme)
11. The Beachcombers (1972–90)
12. Trailer Park Boys (2001–08)
13. The Kids in the Hall (1988–94)
14. The Rick Mercer Report (2004 –Present)
15. North of 60 (1992–98)
16. This Hour Has 22 Minutes (1992–Present)
17. Wayne and Shuster (1954–89)
18. Made in Canada (1998–2002)
19. Slings and Arrows (2003–06)
20. Da Vinci’s Inquest (1998–2005)
21. CODCO (1986–92)
22. The Nature of Things (1960–Present)
23. Traders (1996–2000)
24. The New Music (1979–2008)
25. The Newsroom (1996–97, 2004–05)