The air was immediately electric as I walked into the Studio 40 at CBC headquarters in Toronto. Anyone who’s ever watched an episode of Family Feud knows exactly what the show’s about, whether it was the Richard Dawson era, the more comical years hosted by the late Ray Combs, or the current version with Steve Harvey at the helm. And Family Feud Canadaâ€”debuting Monday at 8 p.m. on CBCâ€”doesn’t disappoint; it’s impressive right from the start. From the iconic name tags to those oh-so-familiar sights and sounds, it’s exactly how you remember itâ€”with a Canadian spin.
“We might have a French-Canadian question, you might hear the word ‘hockey’ a bit more, you might get a poutine reference. But it’s not forced,” host Gerry Dee told us during the show’s recent media day. “We had a family from Winnipeg here and they were pumping up the Grey Cup. So there are some very proud Canadians on set because it is our version.”
And because of its Canadian-ness, expect it to be pretty darn nice. “It’s ironic, it’s called Family Feud but there’s no feuding,” laughed Dee. “They really love each other. One team feels bad to beat a team. So far, so Canadian.”
Literally. Nearly 2,000 families across the country applied and the show has received 10,000 emails from those who want to be in the studio audience. All who are surveyed are Canadian, and the questions range from Canadian to more Canadian to super-Canadian. And they’re all vyingâ€”albeit, politelyâ€”for that $10,000 prize.
Family Feud may be a game show at heart, but because of all the comedy that comes with it, it’s pretty perfect for the actor-comedian. Dee found out that Family Feud Canada was in the works about five months after Mr. D, which ran for eight seasons on the broadcaster, wrapped. “When Mr. D was done, there was nothing. Then this came along and it was perfect.”
Luckily for Dee, he didn’t have to audition as the broadcaster knew what a good thing it had with him. He joked that CBC asked five other people before turning to him but acknowledged, “I think that they probably were looking at all the great choices Canada has and I’m very lucky that they thought of me. It was a pretty cool call to get but it was never on my radar.”
But as far as Dee is concerned, he was never not going to do this. “This is right in my wheelhouse. I’m not saying I’m perfect for it but it’s a perfect fit as far as for me, it is.”
The only difference between Canada’s version and the U.S., Dee points out is, well, him. “Obviously it’s going to be very different with me as the host. Some people will like it, some won’t, and that’s a given. There always is in entertainment.
“The only thing that could be worse is me,” he continued. “That’s the only thing that could be worse. But it might not be. Not sure yet. We’ll find out.”
Family Feud Canada airs Monday to Thursday at 8 p.m. on CBC before moving to its regular timeslot of 7:30 p.m. the following week.
Image courtesy of CBC.