Editor’s note and trigger warning: This article contains mentions of sexual assault.
CBC’s Diggstown struggled against the COVID-19 pandemic before it could bring Atlantic Canada to the world stage for its third season.
But main character Marcie Diggs, a legal aid lawyer born in North Preston, Nova Scotia, was back on screens for the season premiere on Oct. 6.
Shooting during the pandemic
The show’s creator Floyd Kane says production of the third season was only two weeks in when the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit Nova Scotia.
“It was pretty brutal,” Kane says of his experience filming during the province-wide lockdown.
The crew faced new challenges in the production of the third season. Kane says the biggest challenge was bringing in actors from outside of the province. The crew worked tirelessly with the government to get actors approved to come into Nova Scotia.
The original plan for Diggstown’s third season was not to address COVID-19 at all, but with the progression of the pandemic, Kane decided to write it into the storyline. The third season takes a look at possible legal cases that could be born amid the pandemic; the first case focused on issues surrounding long-term care homes.
Kane also wanted to discuss the issue of landlords, tenants and rent release, which will appear in later episodes.
Owen Thomas, who appears in the seventh episode of the third season, says the biggest challenge he faced was the pre-production process. The writing room took place entirely online, making the writers feel disconnected during the brainstorming process.
Thomas plays a survivor of sexual assault in the third season and has been working on the show as Kane’s assistant since October 2020.
Bringing Atlantic Canada to the world stage
Not only is Diggstown filmed right here in Halifax, but its storyline is also based in Halifax. A lover of the east coast, Kane wanted to paint a picture of Nova Scotia the world doesn’t normally see.
“When people think about Nova Scotia . . . they think about sailing, they think about fishing, they think about lobster and about the tattoo,” Kane says. Kane ditched the New Scotland heritage and the quaint reputation of South Shore for the opportunity to share the beauties of the east coast with the world.
Actress Tori Divine, who plays Elina Smith in episodes three and six, says she enjoys that Diggstown is based in Halifax because there is no need to hide any famous landmarks that identify the city.
“You can see the Halifax ferry in the background sometimes, and the waterfront, and parts of Africville and all of these places that are significant to Nova Scotia,” Divine says.
Born and raised in Halifax, Divine says she didn’t have to worry about her Nova Scotian accent coming through while she was filming.
Kane also chose to base Diggstown in Halifax so he could create representation for the Black and Indigenous Nova Scotians that don’t often see themselves on television.
What’s new in the third season
The third season begins to expand on Marcie’s personal life. Thomas says the show has a newfound identity to it.
Divine also looks forward to sharing the shows development into Marcie’s life and says despite the first two seasons being extremely personal for Marcie, this season hits even closer to home.
Diggstown has always focused on racism in Nova Scotia. Divine believes that during the pandemic, people began to realize how badly racism affects Canadians.
“I think this season is going to resonate with a lot of people,” Divine says.
Thomas says there are many topics they’ve left uncovered. He hopes the third season will educate viewers on things they may not know about the legal system.
Born in East Preston, Kane attended law school at Dalhousie University and graduated in 1996. Kane says going to law school taught him to think like a lawyer, which helped him throughout his career and the production of Diggstown.
“I mean it was great,” Kane says. “It was a very formative experience.”
Divine also studied in Dal’s acting program with a minor in French language.
“It was good and it was weird and it was exhausting just like everybody’s university experience,” Divine says when discussing her years at Dal.
Also once a Dal student, Thomas majored in cinema and media and minored in creative writing. Thomas graduated in May 2020.
Diggstown season three premiered on CBC beginning Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 9pm ADT and is available to stream on CBC Gem.