Camille Sullivan as Alice Landry, Shawn Doyle as Ben Landry, Jared Ager Foster as Peter Landry in CBC’s Unspeakable mini-series, which was partially filmed in the Comox Valley. Photo by CBC

Vancouver Island-filmed mini-series set to air Jan. 9

CBC production explores Canada’s tainted blood scandal

A CBC mini-series which spent more than a week shooting in two locations in the Comox Valley is set to hit airwaves next week.

Unspeakable, an eight part mini-series about the Canadian tainted blood scandal of the early 1980s, will premiere Jan. 9 on the network.

The Vancouver-based production filmed part of the series in May 2018 in two Valley locations — the Comox Valley Airport (which doubled as an airport in Sweden) and St. Joseph’s General Hospital, which served as hospitals in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver because of the look which changes from floor to floor.

“This is the first time shooting in the Valley,” said filmmaker Robert Cooper in May, whose is known for his work on the Stargate television franchise.

He explained there were logistical challenges around the production, “but it’s something we’ve been looking at since the opportunity was presented to us … our production team has done an amazing job making it an incredibly seamless process.”

RELATED: Canadian mini-series set to shoot in the Comox Valley

Cooper, who serves as a writer, director and executive producer of the series, is personally familiar with the storyline, as he was born with hemophilia and required blood products during the scandal.

“(Hemophilia) is a genetic disease that affects your blood clotting and you require a blood product in order to have your blood clot – it can affect you in minor or major ways,” he noted.

“In the ’80s when HIV and other infectious diseases like hepatitis were infiltrating and affecting the blood system, hemophiliacs – because they depend on blood, take a lot of it – were largely affected by that unfortunate situation.”

Joan Miller, film commissioner for the Vancouver Island North Film Commission said the production served as an opportunity for graduates from North Island College’s TV & Film Training Programs to gain work experience, as well as for many local services to be contracted, including restaurants, hotels and security firms.

“It’s the first production at the hospital (since it closed) and St. Joseph’s admin team and Providence Health has been very supportive … they realized that it will have a good community impact, as well as economic input to the area,” said Miller.

For more information on the mini-series, visit www.unspeakableseries.com

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