Global BC’s Deb Hope Shares Her Favourite PNE Moments

Deborra Hope shares her fondest (and not-so-fond) fair memories

Credit: Peter Holst

Deb Hope let’s out her inner child at one of the many PNE games

Global BC news anchor Deb Hope shares her favourite PNE summertime moments – plus a few she’d rather forget

On hot summer nights at the PNE, who can resist those competing cries of, “Win a house! Win a car!” or the mingled aromas of grilled onions, popcorn and deep-fried doughnuts? Certainly not Global BC’s Deborra Hope, who will be broadcasting the Early News live on location at the 103rd annual exhibition this summer.

She’s happy to meet and greet you, but just don’t expect to spot this self-proclaimed “scaredy-cat” whizzing around on any rides — she’s much more likely to be found at the mini-doughnut and corndog stands instead. Here, in an exclusive TVW interview, the Vancouver news anchor opens up about her most memorable PNE moments (both good and bad), how she feels about filming at the Fair and why she’ll never set foot on a Ferris wheel again. 

So you’re going to be broadcasting from the PNE this year?

Yeah, I’ll be there for eight days, Tuesdays through Fridays. For the first time in its history, the PNE is closed on Mondays this year.

What’s the best part of shooting at the Fair?

It’s always fun to do a broadcast with actual people watching you. It’s really, really lovely to be able to see and talk to our fans. It’s funny, because when people see us, they’re like, “Deb! How are you!” [Laughing] And I’m like, “Hi! How are you?” It’s lots of fun.

You don’t find it distracting having all those eyes on you, or seeing people making faces at the camera?

I suppose there will always be people sticking out their tongues and being silly, but I feel super-focused when there’s an audience watching.

Is it because you feed off their energy?

Yeah, I really do. Normally we’re in a green room, and it’s usually me and Brian Smalley, who’s the floor director. And of course we’re talking to a lot of people, but we can’t see them. So it’s kind of cool to actually see them.

Will you be checking out the PNE during your breaks?

I don’t really get a lot of time to wander around and do the PNE because, of course, we have to write the stories and that sort of thing. But it’s nice when I do get a tiny bit of time to wander around and see everything.

Do many fans approach you?

People definitely recognize us, and they always like to have a nice chat. It’s really nice; it’s heartwarming because, again, we [normally] don’t see them. They see us, but we don’t see them, unfortunately.

I hear there’s going to be a meet-and-greet booth where people can chat with their favourite Global personalities.

Yes, people just sort of line up and usually each of us goes [there] at a different time. I’m doing the broadcast at 5 p.m. for the Early News, so that’s probably what I’ll mostly be doing.

Deb Hope PNE

Judging by the types of people who approach you, who is your main fan base?

Mine, personally? Oh, everybody. [Laughing] It’s really true for all of us, actually. We’re just a team. And everybody loves everybody, as it were. I think everybody who watches Global likes to see the people who do the broadcast.

What’s your most memorable PNE moment, past or present?

Well, the one thing that stands out for me very much is my first ride on the big coaster. I was 13 years old at that point. I grew up in Trail and came down for a swim meet in Vancouver, and you know, I just jumped into that roller coaster thinking it’s going to be great. I was laughing hysterically throughout the whole thing, and I couldn’t stop laughing even after I got off. I think I just didn’t realize how big that roller coaster was. It’s a little bit frightening!

I think the scariest part is that slow chug up the first big hill. It really builds up the anticipation.

Oh yeah, then when you get to the top and look down it’s like, “OMG!”

When was the last time you went on it?

My boyfriend Roger, who’s now my husband of a long time, he dragged me on it, ’cause after that first time, I was so petrified. He dragged me on to it, and I was like, ‘Okay, here I go . . .’ I haven’t gone back [since]. I’m still a little bit scared of it. 

So you’ve only been on it twice in your life. Think you’ll ever attempt a three-peat?

I probably should. And that is gonna be the last time! [Laughing] No, I’m kidding. I might go again. You know, it’s one of the top-10 roller coasters in the world, eh? I’m pretty sure it is. Because it’s all made of wood and that doesn’t really happen anymore. 

Do you have any must-do rides?

You know what? I have a problem with my centre of gravity. I have to be very careful or I’ll get sick. This is really lame, but I actually got sick — didn’t throw up — but I felt really horrible and had to sit down and stay still for about 20 minutes, on the Ferris wheel! How can that be? That’s just really lame.

I can relate. I used to go on every spinning ride imaginable and then, when I was 26, I went on the Scrambler and nearly freaked out.

That was absolutely what was happening [with me]. I was exactly like you, I could do everything, then all of a sudden I couldn’t do anything. Are you kidding me? The Ferris wheel? You can’t get sick on the Ferris wheel! I don’t know, I guess I’m a wuss.

So if you’re not big on the rides, what are your must-eat treats?

Well, I love the mini-doughnuts and I love the corndogs. Oh, yeah: love the corndogs! 

Candy apple or candy floss?

I have always loved the candy floss, I have to say. Pink candy floss.

The PNE is such an iconic part of Vancouver history, entertaining generation after generation of Vancouverites. Is it one of your own personal summertime traditions?

We went for years and years because of our kids, but they’re grown up now, so they go on their own. If you’ve got kids, you’ve got to go to the PNE.

Otherwise you’re just the worst parent going.

That’s for sure!

Deb Hope PNE

How do you think the PNE has evolved over the years?

I do believe it has changed a bit, but it’s also exactly the same as it’s always been: everyone is having fun.

Did you go to any of the PNE’s iconic concerts — The Beatles, The Stones, The Doors? I guess that’s before your time . . .

Oh god, yes. I have seen The Stones, though — just not at the PNE.

So no Elvis then, either?

No, I never saw Elvis — I’m not that old! I’m actually looking really forward to the acts this year: Colin James, The Beach Boys and others as well. I think we’re going to get the chance to sit down with them.

Do you have any childhood memories of going to the PNE with your parents?

No, because we lived in Trail. I’m not a Vancouver girl!

Do you ever try your hand at the midway games? 

Yes, and I always think, ‘Hey, maybe I could do that . . . ’ but of course I can’t. I never win, but it’s fun. I remember [my daughter] Catherine won a yellow elephant that was as tall as I am, and it’s still in my basement; it’s huge.

Are you a fan of the Marketplace? The fortune tellers? The petting zoo?

I love the petting zoo. [And] I should go to the fortune teller, shouldn’t I? I actually think I will do that. Because I can get there a little bit early and I would love to see what my fortune holds.

Do you ever buy tickets for the PNE Prize Home?

“Win a house, win a car!” [Laughing] I have done that in the past, but I haven’t for a while. I’m going to take advantage of [broadcasting there] and do some stuff this year.

Have you ever gone to Fright Nights?

No. I’m a chicken.

At the media preview last year they made us climb into a coffin, then they closed the lid and kept us in there for what felt like five minutes.

That would have freaked me out. I don’t think I would have gotten in.

I’m a scaredy-cat.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.