A Matter of Time: Background notes


Background notes on A Matter of Time

CBC Information Services
Box 500, Terminal A, Toronto 1

CBC Television Network

October, 1967


On the CBC-TV production for Intertel

A Matter of Time


Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto has earned a reputation as one of the world’s leading institutions for the study and treatment of cancer since it was officially opened in September of 1958.

At the hospital, a large international staff of research and medical specialists pool their knowledge and skill in a relentless search to learn all they can about cancer and, simultaneously, to provide effective control of the disease for the thousands of outpatients from many parts of the world who come to the hospital for treatment.

Extensive files are kept on each patient referred to Princess Margaret Hospital, adding to the overall knowledge available on all forms of cancer.

The hospital is affiliated with the University of Toronto. Treatment is mostly radiotherapy, or, in some cases, chemotherapy.

It is primarily an out-patient hospital and has opened its doors to more than 35,000 cancer sufferers during the past 10 years.

At PMH, research personnel are not isolated from the daily treatment of patients but are in regular communication with doctors and patients. The result is an intellectually stimulating atmosphere and a constant interchange of data, to the ultimate benefit of the patients themselves.

CBC public affairs producer Vincent Tovell gratefully acknowledged the assistance and co-operation he and his production crew received from the executive and staff of Princess Margaret Hospital and Ontario Cancer Institute prior to and during the filming of A Matter of Time, a CBC-TV dramatized documentary for Intertel that dramatizes typical experiences of cancer patients undergoing diagnosis and treatment.

Many of the hospital’s doctors, laboratory clinicians, nurses and other staff appear in the film production which attempts to illustrate – in a completely frank and honest way – what it’s like to be a patient at the hospital.



Producer-director Vincent Tovell was delighted to obtain the services of Lee Patterson, international star of stage, films and television, to play the lead role in A Matter of Time, a CBC-TV production for Intertel.

The role required an actor of extreme sensitivity, plus the ability to improvise dialogue. Patterson portrays a young man undergoing diagnosis and treatment for cancer at Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto.

Patterson, 39, was born in Vancouver and raised in Toronto.

He never took acting lessons, but aspired to be an artist or a professional athlete. Patterson’s artistic career got sidetracked after he completed studies at the Ontario College of Art when he became a production assistant at BBC. Fate took a hand when a London theatrical agent spotted Patterson and offered him a role in a West End production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

From that time Patterson went on to roles in more than 32 British-produced movies and 20 plays, and important parts in many Canadian and American television programs, including a starring role in the highly-rated adventure series Surfside Six. He has also performed on the stage in Canada and the United States.



Vincent Toyell producer-director of A Matter of Time, has an impressive academic and production background. The 45-year-old public affairs producer at CBC Toronto received an MA degree from the University of Toronto in 1946 and remained there as a lecturer in the English department following graduation. During his university days, Tovell acted on radio and directed and produced campus shows.

He then took a two-year, post-graduate course in drama and theatre at Columbia University, and in 1950 joined the staff of United Nations Radio in New York where he worked three years as writer-producer, announcer and film interviewer and narrator.

Tovell joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1953 at the corporation’s United Nations headquarters in New York. In May of 1957 he was appointed a television producer at the CBC’s English-language production centre, Toronto.

His CBC credits include many live and film programs of the public affairs, music, and arts and sciences genre. They include film profiles of Shakespeare, Picasso and Shaw; a musical special featuring pianist Glenn Gould; a one-hour telecast of words and music on the theme of love featuring British-born actor Barry Morse (star of the popular U.S. series The Fugitive and of many CBC dramas) and Australian-born actress Zoe Caldwell; and such public affairs series as Viewpoint, The Lively Arts, Explorations (winner of several Ohio Awards) and A Sense of Place. An episode on the latter series – about Canadian architecture – recently received the Czechoslovak Television Prize (Le prix de la télévision tchécoslovaque) at the Second International Festival of Architectural Films, in Prague.

A Matter of Time is the third CBC Intertel production by Tovello The previous two were Three Men, a study of United Nations Secretaries-General Trygve Lee, Dag Hammarskjold and U Thant; and Men for Others, a study of the churches’s [sic] role in today’s changing society.




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