Sophie Grégoire has done her homework. She confirms that she has prepared six pages of questions for Janette Bertrand, whom she will interview in a few moments, for a total of 20 minutes. Excessive ? Maybe. But the former first lady of Canada loves her subject. “Yes, I am passionate. Yes, I would like more time with her, but I am also someone who knows how to respect a countdown,” she explains, while receiving a few makeup touch-ups.
Sophie Grégoire is not the only personality who will enjoy a moment alone with Janette Bertrand on the evening of our recording of a new For Once. Ricardo Larrivee, Élise Guilbault and Véronique Cloutier will also parade in front of the 98-year-old writer. And the latter has no idea of the surprises that await her.
Produced by Urbania (L’air d’aller, La fin des weak), this weekly meeting offers “reverse” interviews. Each week, a guest answers questions in turn from four surprise hosts, whom he knows a lot, a little or… not at all.
“Maybe she doesn’t know who I am!” “, exclaims Sophie Grégoire when we arrive at the Bakus, a reception room in the Sud-Ouest borough of Montreal, around 4 p.m., while the show’s team is giving the final instructions to the interviewers secrets.
Only Véronique Cloutier, on air as usual at Rouge FM until 6 p.m., misses this meeting which brings together around ten people. Nobody seems to care too much. It seems that she is used to television sets.
The cameras no longer hold any secrets for Élise Guilbault either, but unlike the others, she has never been the one asking the questions. Reviewing her notes, while we hear the crowd taking over the studio, the actress nevertheless seems relaxed.
For his part, Ricardo admits to being “a little” nervous. We understand that he knows the interviewee well – and personally. Despite everything, he feels the stress mounting. “I find it worse when it’s someone you really like. I was repeating my questions while taking a shower this morning! »
For Once officially went on air last September, after being the subject of a test episode in January. Télé-Québec tested the water temperature by presenting a program during which Martin Matte was surprised by Lydia Bouchard, Dany Laferrière, Patrice Robitaille and Arnaud Soly.
“We wanted to test a new format, something we had never seen elsewhere,” explains Nadine Dufour, vice-president of content for the broadcaster. At Télé-Québec, we like to be bold. And this formula, which reverses the roles, allows us to show aspects of people that we have not often seen. »
Nadine Dufour salutes the generosity of the participants in For Once. Not only because many of them have never conducted an interview, but also because they prepare seriously for it, weeks in advance. “They have to read a research paper, make up their minds, choose their angle… It’s a lot of work. But when they finish, they are won over. »
The content producer of For Once, Mireille Blouin, confirms these statements.
The Télé-Québec audience is also satisfied. In its original Saturday night 8 p.m. time slot, For Once is the network’s most popular regular show, averaging 230,000 viewers, for a 9.7% market share, confirmed data from Digitize. This is why the channel recently ordered a second season.
“I get talked about it a lot,” says producer Annie Bourdeau. People are getting on board. »
6:10 p.m. Check-in should start soon. Janette Bertrand enters the studio and takes a seat in one of the two armchairs arranged in the center of the audience. “I can’t wait for it to start! “, she says, while we adjust the lighting.
Janette Bertrand insists: she doesn’t know who will sit in front of her. With humor, she lists some possibilities… “A crazy idea occurred to me: they dug up Macaire! » (Macaire was his dog in Quelle famille!, a series broadcast from 1969 to 1974 on Radio-Canada.)
The first to do so is Élise Guilbault, whom Janette Bertrand welcomes, as usual, with a kiss on the mouth and a few pats on the buttocks. Despite the slightly disjointed interview, the complicity between the two women is palpable.
Sophie Grégoire follows the actress with a series of questions that challenge her interlocutor, while Ricardo chooses to go with a more intimate discussion. After the interview during which you could hear a pin drop, a spectator not far away said: “I was scared the whole time! »
The last interviewer of the evening, Véronique Cloutier kicks off the conversation with one of the best questions of the show: “You denied Quebec, but who denied you? » Janette Bertrand opens up without shame to someone who had never interviewed her, even going so far as to describe her sexual appetite at the dawn of being a hundred years old.
9:10 p.m. Recording is complete. Behind the scenes, we loudly discuss the last hours. Véronique Cloutier says she really enjoyed her experience. While waiting for her turn, she and her fellow interviewers could follow the other interviews in front of a huge television. “It’s like watching TV with a gang and making comments! I love that ! »
The host obviously knew the format of the show. “It takes us away from traditional interviews, where it’s just a person who comes to talk about their business. »
As for Janette Bertrand, she recalls her previous appearance on the show, a few months earlier, as an interviewer for Éric Bruneau. Her time as a guest seems to have fulfilled her… and somewhat tired her, given the bombardment of questions she has just undergone. “I thought it was extraordinary! It’s a fantastic concept,” she emphasizes before disappearing.