International Appeal of Road to Avonlea

By November 23, 2011Essays

Road to Avonlea is set in a small town on Prince Edward Island, on the East Coast of Canada. The reach of the show, however, spans the entire globe! The series has substantial international appeal, and it has been broadcast around the world in dozens of languages. In French, it is known as “Les contes d’Avonlea”; in Spanish, it is “Camino a Avonlea”; it is “Tie Avonleaan” in Finland, and “Váratlan utazás” in Hungary.

Since the first season aired in 1990, Road to Avonlea did far more than just follow up from Anne of Green Gables. Kevin Sullivan and his team created a whole world that extended from Anne and L.M. Montgomery’s books, with new characters and new adventures.

Sullivan knew that if he were to build a series from the Anne films, he would have to create something that was rooted in L.M. Montgomery’s work, but also new and unique. The actress Colleen Dewhurst spurred Sullivan in this project, asking him to consider a series. Using several of Montgomery’s titles, plus ideas stemming from what he decided would be his ‘ultimate’ cast of actors, Sullivan created a series that he believed would engage audiences both young and old.

The setting of Prince Edward Island is a considerable part of Avonlea’s charm. Sullivan endeavoured to craft the most beautiful setting possible, and to convey all the magic of PEI, using a painstakingly created representation of the town that readers and Anne of Green Gables fans loved so dearly. The spectacular landscape is captured as the seasons change, using great attention to detail, over a total of 91 episodes.

In turn, the series actually brought about a renaissance of sorts—all of this talent spawned a revival of interest into the works of L.M. Montgomery, mass tourism to picturesque P.E. Island, over 50 international television awards, including 3 Emmy Awards and 4 Cable Ace Awards, including Best Television Series.

Sullivan explains why audiences around the world are so moved by Road to Avonlea and its characters, and he believes that the show’s appeal is that it deals with “Why family, community, and traditions are important to every culture; and most particularly how the foibles of the human condition shape and change all of us…Rich or poor, cruel or kind; all our lives are intertwined because of our humanity.” These universal stories form the foundation of Avonlea. It’s no wonder, then, that this show continues to be broadcast in the homes of families throughout the world!


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