When Corner Gas creator and star Brent Butt decided he wanted to end the beloved Canadian comedy series on a high note, he was 100 per cent sure of the move.
But one fear remained.
“I was thinking, ‘OK, two years from now, how am I going to feel about this?”’ says the actor-comedian, referring to next week’s series finale.
“Well, we’re close to the two-year mark — a year and a half, two years, whatever — since I’ve made that decision, and I’m as sure today that it was the right thing as I’ve ever been, and that’s what makes me sleep at night,”
Butt said recently from his home in Vancouver.
“That’s what allows me to sit back and enjoy this moment for all it is.”
After six seasons, six Gemini Awards, 107 episodes and an average audience of 1.4 million viewers (1.73 million last week), the heralded CTV series will turn off the pumps for good on Monday after a full day of programming.
It all starts with a morning special with the entire cast on Canada AM. In the evening, the cast heads to Live at ETalk and is featured in the It’s Been a Gas special, followed by the closing episode, entitled Good Night, You’ve Been Great (also airing on A channel).
“I’m kind of a sentimental yutz … so that sad, nostalgic part of this is very palpable,” said Butt, whose character Brent Leroy ran the gas station where the quirky residents of the fictional town of Dog River, Sask., bonded.
The cast is rounded out by Butt’s wife, Nancy Robertson, who plays retail assistant Wanda; Gabrielle Miller as Lacey, owner of the Ruby cafe; Eric Peterson and Janet Wright in the roles of Oscar and Emma Leroy; Fred Ewanuick as best friend Hank; and Lorne Cardinal and Tara Spencer-Nairn as police officers Davis and Karen.
“I’m also proud of what we did,” added Butt, who co-wrote the series and based a lot of his character on himself.
“I’m excited about what might come down the road, because it’s all unknown and it’s kind of every emotion at once.
“You kind of look back at it and go, ‘Gee, that was really something.”’
And something it was.
With solid ratings, cameos from celebrities and politicians and broadcasts in over two dozen countries, Corner Gas — which debuted on Jan. 22, 2004 — was said to be the most successful Canadian sitcom ever made.
“I think we’ve made a good Canadian show that’s not afraid to be Canadian,” said executive producer/director David Storey.
Miller chalks up the show’s success to a formula of top-notch writers, actors and producers, and solid promotion.
“It was pretty magical,” Miller said from Vancouver. “There was a lot of things that went right there.”
Shooting the finale last September “was sad and exciting and euphoric and nostalgic and terrifying,” said Butt, noting cast and crew hung around the set for hours after the cameras stopped rolling.