Fans of the hit series ‘Ice Pilots NWT’, which follows the adventures of maverick airline Buffalo Airways, will be delighted to hear the show has been picked up for a fifth season on History, a specialty television channel in Canada.
Mikey McBryan, the general manager of the airline, heard the news three weeks ago and said it’s a “constant surprise” when he gets word the show has been renewed for another season.
In October, Vancouver-based Omnifilm Entertainment began shooting footage for the fifth season on spec, meaning there was no guarantee of renewal.
“We do that every year because they don’t want to miss a thing,” McBryan said. “For a lot of shows, it doesn’t matter when they’re produced, but we’re winter-focused and they simply can’t wait to start shooting.”
History is currently airing season five of the show and McBryan said the numbers are comparable to season one, the show’s best in terms of ratings.
Chances of the series continuing beyond a fifth season are high.
“The funny thing is while season four is airing, History Canada had to make a decision whether or not to renew the show based on season three ratings,” he said. “If they want to do season six, they will be looking at season four numbers, which are really high right now.”
McBryan said the show’s popularity – it airs in more than 60 countries – can be attributed to its gung-ho nature, and the support it receives from History.
“We don’t hold anything back,” he said. “Shows today are being increasingly set up. Because the filming crew is here with us every day, from October to July, they don’t need to set up a scenario.”
McBryan also praised History’s support for the show.
“Many Canadian shows don’t receive a lot of funding, but History Canada does spend a lot on this show,” he said. “It would be very easy for them to produce a cheaper American show such as ‘Swamp People’, but they have really gotten behind our show.”
The show’s fourth season sees Buffalo Airways host a variety of guests such as Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson and ‘Ice Road Truckers’ star Alex Debogorski, among others.
“Our biggest fan base outside of North America is Australia,” McBryan said. “In fact, just the other day this Aussie guy showed up. He’d bought a one-way ticket from Brisbane to Yellowknife – going from 42 C to -35 C in the process – because he’s an avid pilot, a big fan of the show and he wanted to work for us.”
McBryan said the support from his hometown of Hay River has been phenomenal thus far, which is why the town hosts the show’s premiere every year.
“From the merchandise to the airline to the show, the support from the community is amazing,” he noted.
The fifth season of ‘Ice Pilots NWT’ is in production until early summer. It is scheduled to air on History in the fall.