Kit Hood, co-creator of beloved Canadian TV series ‘Degrassi,’ dies

The cast of 'Degrassi Junior High' poses for a photo. File / The Canadian Press

Christopher (Kit) Hood, co-creator of the beloved Canadian teen Degrassi TV series, has died.

An obituary on the website of the Cole Harbour Funeral Home and Crematorium in Nova Scotia says Hood died suddenly at his home in West Lawrencetown, N.S., on Monday.

Born in England, Hood emigrated to Canada in his mid-20s and made a career as a writer, director, editor and producer.

In 1976, he and former teacher Linda Schuyler founded the Toronto-based Playing With Time Inc., which produced the Canadian TV series The Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High.

The three drama series became cult sensations with their look at the fictional lives of youth in downtown Toronto, from the light-hearted antics to the deeper issues that weren’t featured in many other youth-focused programs.

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In a statement, Schuyler says Hood had a “trademark impish charm, and a kid’s-eye view” and never let “the camera look down on” their young protagonists.

“Kit’s intimate and respectful style of directing, small of scale and richly layered, was integral to the success of the series through Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High,” Schuyler said.

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“To this day, his style is deeply imbedded in ‘Degrassi’s DNA. My love and support goes to his whole family. Kit’s devotion to his family was always steadfast and strong.”

The Kids of Degrassi Street, which ran from 1979 to 1986 and aired on CBC TV, won an International Emmy Award.

Degrassi Junior High, which ran from ’87 to ’89 on CBC and also won an International Emmy, was heralded for portraying the complex issues facing teens — from teen pregnancy to shoplifting and relationships.

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And Degrassi High, which ran from ’89 to ’91, also tackled heavy topics including abortion and suicide.

Those series spawned other internationally acclaimed incarnations produced by Schuyler’s Epitome Pictures Inc., including Degrassi: The Next Generation, which helped launch the careers of rapper Drake (nee Aubrey Graham) and Hollywood star Nina Dobrev.

Other titles in the franchise include Degrassi: Next Class and the made-for-TV movie School’s Out!

Hood’s obituary says while he stepped away from professional video production in his later years, he would still film things that caught his interest. It says he loved the ocean and nature, and spent the last two decades of his life living on Nova Scotia’s Atlantic coast.

“He also shared this love with his two daughters, Georgia and Fenella, and his grandson, Sylvester,” says the obituary.

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“He is survived by his wife Agnes Malouf and her daughter July, and his sister Nicola and her husband and two sons in Australia.”

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Schuyler noted that Hood was attracted to character-rich dramas with their naturalistic and intimate style.

His “contribution to Degrassi has been invaluable and enduring,” she said.

“Kit’s quick wit, easy charm and ‘no b.s.’ attitude will be greatly missed.”

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