By Amanda-Marie Quintino
CBC’s new entrepreneurially inspired reality show has developed quite a viewership since it premiered at the beginning of October. Host Dianne Buckner, a former Ryerson journalism student, admits that she too has been bit by the biz bug.
Before Dianne Buckner was hosting financial television shows alongside world-renown business elites, she was walking up and down Gould Street in search of a story.
Buckner, who graduated from the three-year journalism program in 1982, thought she was headed for a career in newspapers. But after she spent a summer interning at Citytv, she fell in love with television.
“I never expected to find a career in TV, I always just expected to be a newspaper reporter,” she says.
But after graduating, Buckner became a television personality almost instantly, serving as a general news reporter for CTV NationalNews in Toronto. During her five years at CTV, Buckner got her first taste of business television—as host of Live It Up!, a program targeted to consumers.
When she made the move to Canada’s other major broadcasting network, Buckner became a newsie, hosting CBC News: Sunday, Saturday Report, CBC News at Six, Newsworld Morning, Midday and CBC Radio’s As It Happens.
After spending over a decade hosting Canada’s most popular business program, Venture, CBC has now given Buckner another responsibility. She’s currently the host of CBC’s new reality show, Dragons’ Den, which has entrepreneurs pitching their businesses ideas to a panel of wealthy Canadian investment moguls.
Now with a growing number of fans, Buckner has become the token face for CBC’s popular business-oriented shows.
“The hair stylists, makeup artists, lighting technicians, cameramen, everyone who was on the set of the first episode, were riveted,” she says over the phone from the show’s set. “So am I. I’ve watched everyone get into the show. I think it’s becoming a TV phenomenon.”
A phenomenon she’s more than happy to have a hand in.
“The crew was the original audience, they were like the first focus group. I’m always being stopped in the CBC building by people who tell me they’re addicted to the show.”
And the show’s fan base has been growing rapidly past the studio. Dragons’ Den, which is shot in the Distillery District, premiered in early October. Since last week, 150,000 more viewers tuned in to watch it.
Although she has interviewed many high-profile business people, including Chris and Larry of Clodhoppers’ fame, former prime minister Paul Martin, and celebrity CEO Jack Welch, Buckner wouldn’t say she has a beat for business.
“Everything’s just kind of fallen into place. It was sort of a natural connection to put me as host of Dragons’ Den since I’ve acquired the business experience while hosting Venture,” she explains.
“But this show is definitely a lot different. It’s a reality show that challenges people to come up with a proper pitch, a pitch that will be prosperous. Venture is about telling people’s stories. We go out into the field with people, see their homes and offices, and chronicle their lives as they attempt to make a business.”
Despite the time she has spent watching people make good, bad and sometimes mediocre business decisions, Buckner insists she still hasn’t found her own pot of gold.
“I’m still waiting to come up with my big idea,” she says, chuckling. “After all this time, I still haven’t come up with anything.”
Dragons’ Den airs every Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CBC. Visit cbc.ca/dragonsden for more program information.