During its six-season run starting in 1957, Leave It to Beaver became one of the country’s most beloved and successful comedy series.
Focused on family life in the U.S. from a kid’s viewpoint, the show was beloved by both young and old alike.
It also enjoyed acclaim globally once the series was distributed worldwide. One country, however, passed on the program, according to the Beaver himself, Jerry Mathers.
‘Beaver’ was canceled by 1 network and picked up by another
Leave It to Beaver did not enjoy success right away. CBS premiered the family program in 1957 and canceled it because of its low ratings. The following year, ABC gave the series a go and that network became Beaver‘s home until it ended its run in 1963.
According to Mathers, in his conversation with the Archive of American Television, the show was originally called “‘It’s A Small World’. We went in, we did the pilot, and there was a totally different cast except for Barbara Billingsley and myself.
“It took a long time for the show to sell,” he said. “Because you have to remember, at that time, television was really in its infancy and most of the shows that were on were variety shows, cowboy shows, and gangster shows.”
The show’s popularity worldwide
Mathers explained that the series’ writers wrote the show for American audiences, but also for international ones, and wanted to present the American family in a positive light.
“[Writers Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher] were very aware that Leave It to Beaver was one of the first shows about an American family and, especially, from a child’s point of view, to go around the world,” he said.
“Some of the shows that were family shows showed the United States but they didn’t have worldwide recognition. And so [the writers] were very, very conscious of presenting the United States in a very good light.
“Leave It to Beaver has played, and still plays, in 91 different languages in like 127 countries.”
The country that passed on ‘Beaver’
Surprisingly, the nation that decided not to allow the show on its airwaves was England. And it’s also the country where Mathers says he can enjoy being out in public without fans recognizing him.
“One of the kind of interesting things, and it’s not that it really bothers me, is that sometimes when you’re eating, someone will come up to you,” he said. “It’s not really annoying, but it can get old after a while.
“If I want to go someplace and be totally unrecognizable, and know that no one will know that I was ever an actor, I can go to England. Leave It to Beaver, although it plays in Farsi, Swahili, and Japanese, for some reason, the BBC would never show Leave It to Beaver.
“Of course, as soon as the English didn’t show it, it showed on Irish TV.”
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