Angela Mombourquette’s new book 25 Years of 22 Minutes An Unauthorized Oral History of 22 Minutes as Told by Cast Members, Staff and Guests is set to hit the shelves this fall.
Mombourquette is a filmmaker, editor, and writer who worked at CBC in Halifax from the early 1990s to the mid 2000s. During her stint at CBC, she sometimes replaced 22 Minutes’ regular floor-director, so she began work on the book with an understanding of what goes on behind the scenes of the show, and a connection to the people involved in making it happen.
“My goal all along has been simply to tell the story of how the show came about, to share some interesting stories from behind the scenes, and to give Canadians a bit of insight into what goes into the making of a show like 22 Minutes — through the words of the writers, producers, and cast members who were there,” Mombourquette writes in the book’s preface.
Mombourquette wrote the book in five short months, racing the launch of the show’s 25th anniversary season. In that time, she conducted 27 interviews and wove them into a large conversation about the show’s inception, the challenge of changing cast members, and how the show has re-invented itself over the past quarter of a century.
“When you’re writing about a lot of strong personalities and you’re talking to people who have very distinct opinions it’s hard for a writer to pin down a true narrative of what happened,” Mombourquette explained.
“An oral history is a great format in the sense that it gives everybody an opportunity to give their version of the truth … I don’t say here’s the absolute truth of how this all went down, instead I present it in their voices.”
From the beginning, Mombourquette knew she wanted to talk about how the show has evolved since the first episode aired 1993. While writing the book, she went back and watched episodes from that first pre-internet, pre-digital video production season and was shocked by how different it looked and felt. She believes the show’s ability to adapt with the changing times is part of the secret to its longevity.
“As producers, cast members, and writers have changed, the show has gone through periods of being very political, and then less political, and then looped around again, and I think that’s healthy for a show like that,” Mombourquette said.
However, she says what hasn’t changed about the show is that it tackles issues from an “outsider” perspective. Mombourquette believes it’s really the show’s persistence when it comes to not letting people in power off the hook that continues to endear audiences.
“I think a lot of Canadians relate to the show because it looks toward the centers of power from the fringes, and most Canadians live in the fringes. The show has always been a kind of advocate for the underdog who’s not represented in the power structure,” Mombourquette said.