» » Read All About It!

Short summary

When three kids explore a coach house held by a missing uncle, they discover far more than they bargained for when two robots, Otto and Theta, appear to tell them about a conspiracy against the town. By accident, they also discover a teleport machine that can take them to the planet Trialveron controlled by the alien tyrant, Duneedon. Against this threat, the kids decide to use the coach-house as the base for a community newspaper both to keep the building and to investigate the conspiracy. Along the way, they learn about writing and its various practical uses as they fight the alien forces that oppose them.

The costume created for historical character General Brock was later donated to Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada.

Videos of the show were distributed to elementary schools across Canada and the United States, with a whole lesson plan built around the episodes and the teachings within them.

Portions of the show set in the Coach House, on Trialviron and various alien worlds were shot on videotape. Anytime that the actors ventured out on location, it was shot on film.

The show began airing on PBS in the United States soon after its TVO debut, and it was regularly rerun throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

In the second season premiere, Ann Blake sends the kids a giant crossword puzzle that they post on the wall of The Coach House. They add various words throughout the rest of the season (stretching from Spring until Christmas - which is long enough for Samantha to co-author and publish a book), but the puzzle still remains incomplete in the series finale.

The bookish Samantha character didn't test well with audiences in the beginning, so they gradually softened her over the course of the season. The real reason that she left the show, however, was because season two saw the introduction of black character Alex - which was a blatant attempt to appeal to a broader audience - and the producers quickly realized they didn't have enough money in the budget to pay all four kids every week. They rotated the characters throughout season 2 and eventually wrote Sam out because she was the least popular of the original trio, but they made it a point to bring her back for the series finale.

Barbara Wheeldon (Ann Blake) only appeared in three feature films in her lifetime, and each of them included other "Read All About It" guest stars: Cries in the Night (1980) with Kay Hawtrey (Dr. Crystal Couplet), Deadline (1984) with William Osler (the voice of Dr. Couplet's word machine) and Where the Spirit Lives (1989) with Graham Greene (John Norton).

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: ME

    This is the TV show that I'll credit for getting me into a career in journalism. I mean, growing up in a small Ontario town, it seemed obvious that being involved in a newspaper was a way to hang out with not one, but two (two!) brainy cute girls. Man, I had the biggest crushes on Lynne (whom I thought was short for Lyndsey for some reason -- it might come up in the show) and Sam. I mean, really, what more could a 10-year-old want other than two hot, brainy chicks with a penchant for gossip, a coach house, two robots and a desklamp that teleported you into another world full of psych-out flashing lights and an evil floating head -- and a damn creepy evil floating head at that? I mean, Cripes, there's enough imagery here to fill an entire album's worth of Meat Puppet songs.

    For starters, I do remember very well that the first six episodes were produced/broadcast in 1979, and the remainder hit the air in 1980 -- *not* 1981. It should say so in the copyright information at the very end of each episode. I remember seeing the fifth or sixth episode as a small kid when it first aired. But then, circa 1984-85, I remember that I came across the listing for this show in some teacher's handguide and managed to twist the arm of my fourth Grade teacher into obtaining video tapes of the show from the Ministry of Education. We got to see an episode every second day, or something like that. Anyhow, needless to say, I briefly went from being a geek to a cool-ass kid in my class simply for making the recommendation.

    There was, of course, a sequel. But we never got to see that. I think I'd given my teacher headaches from watching this weird little show.

    I don't really remember a lot of this -- except that the girls were cute and that the adult cast had doppelgangers in the other universe (Trialveron or something like that). I'd personally give my left arm to see this again. I can only worry that this show was actually better in the day, and wouldn't hold up now. Even though I haven't really thought about this show in 15 years, I can say this: if anyone involved in the show ever reads this, know that you're responsible for at least one journalist. And one who writes wacky fiction on the side. Thanks a bundle. The cult may be small, but this show really needs a nostalgic Web site.

    Yours, Zachary Houle
  • comment
    • Author: Jack
    i am on the look-out for anything and everything i can find on he subject of "read all about it". even if you are just someone else who watched the show. i loved this show when i watched it as a kid in atlanta, and in my whole life, have found only one person who watched it as well. feel free to e-mail me with any information you have. just title the email "read all about it"
  • comment
    • Author: Halloween
    A horror TV series that's completely educational? Lol. Only in Canada! Read All About It (1979 – 1983) is a science-fiction fantasy television series for children. It is a 2 season series and is placed in the town of Herbertville. It is about a coach house where a young boy, Chris' uncle mysteriously disappears leaving behind not only the coach house but two artificial intelligence robots including Theta and Otto. Theta is a computer that can communicate through talking via an integrated monitor and Otto is a device that can communicate by having his thoughts outputted on paper. A teleportation device is also discovered that can transport Chris and his friends to the planet Trialveron. Chris and his friends set up a newspaper called The Herbertville Chronicle and use the coach house as headquarters while unearthing an alien plot to destroy earth.

    Read All About it was produced by TV Ontario and is a Canadian Educational Film. Each episodes is about 13 minutes in length and the series focuses on the main theme of encouraging viewers to read and write and think for themselves. Cast includes Craig Collard, Lydia Zajc, Stacey Arnold and Sean Hewitt. Michael Dwyer came on crew for the second season. The series is scary, fun and highly educational. I've re-watched the entire series recently as an adult, and it's still just as delightful.
  • comment
    • Author: Burgas
    wow, this is great. i hadn't thought about this show in years and years when suddenly the word "intricacy" pops into my head and it all comes flooding back. i loved this show when i was a kid (and i completely agree with the dr. who analogy). the production values were cheap but effective (considering the age of the viewing audience), but the storytelling was the most important aspect. these folks really knew how to engage the viewer (i.e. the average 5 to 10 year-old) in a very adult way. i'll bet that if i had the chance to see these episodes again, they would still stand up. its good to see that such an obscure little show still has some fans more than twenty years later. perhaps there will be a DVD release someday...
  • comment
    • Author: Detenta
    I remember watching it in 8th grade; the year was 1989 and not in a reading class. My history class. We watched it because my teacher was just slack like that. But I really enjoyed the show.

    Out of the blue a few weeks ago, I thought about "Read All About It". It's interesting in the 80s that a lot of the educational shows on American PBS were Canadian shows. But I have to admit, they were cool.

    And there's this other sci-fi-type PBS show about reading that was American way. The main character is a librarian and something kind of catastrophe was about to happen, but a mysterious man puts her in some kind of deep sleep/suspended animation and then centuries later, she is awaken to a future Earth. It's kins like a strange mixture of "Escape from New York", "The Warriors" and a few other movies together. I can't think of the name of the show.
  • comment
    • Author: watching to future
    "Read all about it. Discover all the news. Read all about it. Track down all the clues. With interesting people there's a mystery to be solved. An adventure is unfolding so why not get involved? Come on and read all about it."

    This was just as great as Read All About It part 1. Again it was aimed at older kids but I would just sit around with my dad and watch it. It was an infinite part of my childhood and it's the kind of thing that doesn't really appeal to everyone.
  • comment
    • Author: ℓo√ﻉ
    It was a good show for kids. It involved three teens who start their own newspaper the "Herbertville Chronical" They discover that the coachhouse where they work in is able to transport people to different galaxies and the excitement starts.

    Although it was a cheezy TVO production, I remember being intrigued by it when it first came out when I was ten!
  • comment
    • Author: Gio

    No plot summary necessary here, as the fine fellows below have already completed the task. Besides, if you're reading this, chances are that you've seen the show and know how great it is anyway!

    I deliciously anticipated the opening moments, in which a recap of the previous episode would be typed out s-l-o-w-l-y on the screen for what seemed to be forever. Sure I had a bad attention span, but it wasn't that hard to remember what happened in the last episode!

    I also distinctly remember the eerie analog music and sound effects as the teleporter/tabletop thing was switched on, and those hypnotic strobe lights and the dry-ice smoking action. Crazy.

    Yes indeed, Dunedin (sp?) was quite the instrument of evil. And I always knew there was something fishy going on with mayor Don Eden, although I'm not sure what gave it away, was it the guy's name or that he looked exactly like Dunedin (minus the make-up and lack of body)

    My favourite is the first season, though the second does incorporate the ability to travel through space and time involving olde Fort York (located

    in the middle of busy downtown Toronto). In the end, the gang finally visits Mr. Evil Floating Head's intergalactic home, travel around in a spacecar (which reuses the identical set over and over, kind of shamelessly but economically it works!). Then they answer some grammar questions and save the world.

    I am attempting to track down and locate the cast members of this show for a film project of my own, which pays great tribute to this show. I haven't been able to get in touch with them, but then again I haven't really tried. If you know them, or actually are one of them, please send me a message. Especially Lynne.
  • comment
    • Author: Aiata
    Read All About It! is one of the great low budget Canadian television series to emerge in the early 80s. What You Can't Do That On Televison was to sketch comedy, this show was to sci-fi suspense. Plus, you learned something about grammer with each show. Simply remarkable, it was a show that was ahead of its time.

    However the standout in this ground-breaking series was the character of Dundeedon, a villain that ranks up there with Hannibal Lector, Darth Vader and Macauly Culkin in Getting Even with Dad as one of the all time perfect villains. His free floating head is quite a creepy image to be sure and (SPOILER WARNING) when he appears on earth as Mayor Don Eden, I have to admit I jumped about three feet out of my seat. There's a moment at the end of episode seven in which "Don Eden" gains the upper hand, rolling his eyes and letting one of the show's heroes know that(SPOILER WARNING) he has her keys! chills man, chills. Sean Hewitt, the actor who played this wonderful character that audiences all over Ottowa loved to hate deserves the superstardom he is sure to one day receive.

    All in all, Read All About It! is one of those classics you can watch again and again. Until about the seventh time, then you get a little tired with it. Luckily there's Read All About It! Part 2 when that happens. Enjoy!
  • comment
    • Author: Modar
    The show really sticks out in my memories. That creepy clown with the organ?! I hope somebody can remind me what she had to do with the show. I do remember one episode where someone was sucking all the words out of books and it was in some creepy cave. Duneedon's head floating above that table/desk thing, Theta's creepy voice.

    I'm glad someone reminded me about Sam, because Lynn and the boy are all I remembered, I think there was another kid in the second season, too. I think he was black and he was in the episodes at Fort York where some time travelling was involved. Dont forget that crossword they had in the clubhouse, and at the end of each episode they would write in another word with a black magic marker. Where do you get crosswords that large, anyway
  • comment
    • Author: Cordanara
    "Read all about it! Discover all the news. Read all about it! Track down all the clues. With interesting people there's a mystery to be solved. An adventure is unfolding so why not get involved? Come on and read all about it!"

    I don't know I was never really scared by this show. Nothing really seemed to scare me when I was a kid. It was a low budget TVOntario production aimed at older kids but I used sit on the floor with my dad after a pretty rough day in JK and watch this show. I remember my brother being freaked out by this show but I was never scared by it. Not even a little bit. :)
  • comment
    • Author: Leyl
    Man oh man, I can't believe I'm actually gonna comment of this! Welp, here it goes. I remember one summer day during 1979 that the first pilot aired for Read All about It! The original cast was much older with the exception of the boy and possibly the girl too who carried over into the eventual series itself. I recall a young teen being trapped in time, always on the run and not exactly sure of his whereabouts. This was where his friends would haplessly look through the monitor of him running for his life, trying to deduce where geographically and which era historically he was trapped in.

    It was captivating! It had all the makings of a cool detective show and sure enough, the final product hit the airwaves a short time after. There must be a list of all the TV Ontario programming and cast lists to their incredible array of educational shows. All us Generation X'ers would be interested to read a possible 'Where are they now?' section just for fun. Too bad kids nowadays don't have half the quality shows we had back in the late 70's/early 80's. They're missing out on some of the most insightful educational shows in quite a while.
  • comment
    • Author: Hono
    So many years on, the show has managed to hold a tiny space in my memory. It really was a good show, but sorry to say, nothing like it will ever be produced again. It was a show even too brainy for the time, and in today's cracked-out kid's programming, no TV executive would give it a second look. As I remember it, the three kids in the show seemed like everyday kids off the street rather than real actors, and the computer "technology" of the show seemed amazing back then. I just remember thinking the size of the dot matrix printer (aka "Otto") was cutting edge! Anyway, you can still find lots of information about it on the net under classic TVO kids shows. It's worth a look just for the memories.
  • comment
    • Author: Not-the-Same
    I first caught this series back in 1980 on PBS, way back when most Americans only had four TV networks to choose from. I was a wee lad who couldn't yet read, and I don't know if the educational aspect sunk in at the time, but I consistently found myself engrossed in the story. The main thing that stuck with me throughout my entire life was the image of the evil, silver, disembodied head that belonged to the show's resident villain, Duneedon. As a little kid, he sent shivers up my spine, and seeing the series now, it's easy to see why. Sean Hewitt's menacing glare, eerie voice and maniacal laugh still haunt my nightmares!

    Watching the show today, it's extraordinarily dated but no less entertaining than it was all those decades ago. The show's resident Artificial Intelligence - talking computer Theta and her printer sidekick, Otto - seem ridiculously obsolete in this modern computer age, but they have a kitschy charm. It's sort of funny that the printer, who doesn't actually speak, has all of the best one-liners in the series! As for the other effects, some are quite obviously blue screen and cheap which, combined with the shot-on-video look, is very reminiscent of the old "Doctor Who."

    The characters are each distinctive, though a few of the cast members had a pretty limited acting range (it's easy to see why Lynne went from just a member of the ensemble to the lead - and it's strange that she never went on to bigger things). Guest characters like The Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook, and the clown haired Dr. Crystal Couplet were a perfect blend of kiddie show whimsy and over-the-top adult camp.

    The second season is entertaining too, but it completely lacks the focus of the first. The initial batch of episodes center on time travel to The War of 1812 (arguably the weakest part of the series - with the dumbest explanation and resolution), then there's a fun trip to fairy tale land, a drawn-out goodbye to a lead character, an off-the-wall 2-episode haunting, and finally Duneedon and Dr. Couplet return for a multi-episode-arc leading to the series finale. For a season that's split into book chapters, it doesn't feel especially cohesive, and most of the newly-introduced characters are forgettable (or instantly forgotten, like The Book Destroyer, whose storyline doesn't have a proper resolution). It's certainly not bad, but obviously they didn't have a clear vision of the season's overall arc, so it's not nearly as engaging as the first season... until they get back on track near the end.

    As a kid, I don't think I realized how much they were pushing the educational content in the show, and there are times when they really beat viewers over the head with it. Most episodes feature lengthy plot points where the kids have to solve riddles or learn the meanings of words for either the newspaper or to escape one of Duneedon's traps. There were a few times when it was tedious as an adult -- I instantly deciphered the puzzle while they spent five minutes of screen time on it -- but I have to give props to Clive Endersby for his clever way of blending the education and the sci-fi story.

    Perhaps it's only nostalgia, but if I were to have seen the series for the first time today, I think I'd still enjoy it. In our modern ADD society, youngsters would probably be bored with it (or at least find the effects laughable), but it holds a very special place in my heart - and it's clear to see that I'm not alone in my sentiments.
  • comment
    • Author: Wnex
    This is crazy! I was looking at a map of the Tampa FL area, saw the town of Dunedin and thought, in the fuzzy reaches of my memory there was that show I loved in grade school that made such an impression on me that no one else since has ever seemed to know anything about (I moved a lot). I just knew that name Dunedin had something to do with the show but couldn't remember much else. I googled something random I thought would be a long shot to find it, and here it is! Reading all the reviews, it has all come back to me, why I loved the show in school (in Bolivia no less!) and I'm pretty sure it had a lot to do with why I love sci-fi and adventure and mysteries and grammar! Would be SO much fun to watch it again. That had to be my 5th grade year, in 83 or 84. Wow, thanks everyone for a delightful trip down memory lane!
  • comment
    • Author: Armin
    What was with people trying to scare children so much in the late 70s, early 80s?? I couldn't wrap my head around a lot of what was going on with this show at the time, I just liked the computer/robot thing. The fax machine dealy.... The music was the worst- it had a dreamy, mysterious quality that didn't belong on a kids show. Natch, it's from Canada. I can still remember the music and the title song after 20 years. Should be on the same tape as old Dr. Who episodes.
  • Series cast summary:
    Lydia Zajc Lydia Zajc - Lynne Davis 37 episodes, 1979-1982
    David Collard David Collard - Chris Anderson 33 episodes, 1979-1982
    Stacey Arnold Stacey Arnold - Samantha Nikos 29 episodes, 1979-1982
    Angela Fusco Angela Fusco - Theta / - 29 episodes, 1979-1982
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