People / Philip Keatley

Producer, director. Philip Keatley received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia, majoring in English and History. While an undergraduate student, Keatley developed a passion for the theatre and became actively involved in the Player’s Club theatre group. After graduating, he studied English acting styles and major theatre movements at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. While abroad, Keatley picked up parts in radio plays and repertory theatre. He also met and married his wife, Elizabeth. Shortlly after their wedding in 1956, the new Vancouver production facility of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation offered Keatley a position and the young couple returned to Canada.

Keatley significantly developed the production industry on the West Coast. For example, Keatley’s most ambitious project, Caribou Country (1959-1967), was the first program to be shot on film in British Columbia. Caribou Country, shot in the Chilcotin plateau west of the Fraser River, told the stories of contemporary First Nations, blending documentary and fiction. Acclaimed by critics and viewers, the show had a special distinction: every First Nations character in the show was played by an aboriginal person, among them Chief Dan George. Keatley is also remembered for The Beachcomers (1971-1990), the longest-running drama series on Canadian television which, at its peak, was watched by 1.9 million viewers per week. By 1975, the new Vancouver production studios of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation—wth Keatley at its helm—was producing close to forty percent of all English-language television drama. Keatley retired from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1990 to start a private production company with his daughter, Julia. Together they produced the television series Cold Squad (1998-2005) for seven seasons, though he retired for good after three. He passed away in 2007.