A trip to Toronto to compete in a television game show has special meaning for Atish Ram.
The Surrey man and his family won an audition to appear on the new Family Feud Canada.
The Ram team includes Atish, his wife Mandy, teen daughter Jasmine and adult sons Tyler and Ryan.
The Newton-area family is among up to 72 Canadian clans chosen to compete on the TV game show hosted by Gerry Dee, former star of the Mr. D sitcom.
For Atish, the whole experience reminds him of his departed father.
“He loved game shows, and that was his thing – he’d watch Jeopardy, Family Feud, Wheel of Fortune, anything – all of them,” Atish explained. “He would have been very proud about this.
“We lost him two years ago, and that makes this sentimental for me. In my eulogy for him, I said I would promise to put the Ram name up in lights one day, and then this happens. It’s kind of weird, and we’ll be on the show exactly two years to the day since we laid him to rest.”
In another twist of fate, Atish said he opened a fortune cookie on Aug. 27 – the day of his family’s audition for the game show – and the message said, “A television program will give you great impetus.” A second fortune cookie promised, “A refreshing change is in your future.”
The family’s trip to Toronto will be a special one, Atish said.
“Somehow it was all meant to happen,” he said. “It’s been a tough two years. I’ve battled health issues – I’ve been in and out of hospital with heart problems – and we haven’t gone on vacation together or anything for a long time, so it’ll be nice to get to go and have a little vacation all paid for. Win or lose, we’ve already won.”
On the show, families compete head-to-head by guessing the most popular answers to survey questions based on responses from a sample of Canadians.
“You can come back on the show up to three times, depending on the outcome, so we’ll see how we do,” Atish said. “You can win up to $10,000 per show.”
Atish expects his family’s show air date will be at the end of January.
“That’s my guess, and they’ll let us know,” he said.
“We want to have fun, but we also want to win,” Atish added. “I’ve been watching a lot of the shows and so have my kids, practicing, but there’s no right answers in a survey of 100 people – some of the answers are so bizarre, and sometimes it’s about how quickly you can answer.”
Family Feud Canada, to debut at 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16 on CBC, will air four nights a week, from Monday to Thursday.
First introduced in the U.S. in 1976, Family Feud is one of television’s longest-running and top-rated game shows. The title has been picked up in 71 international markets to date, including the U.K., Australia, France, India and Indonesia.
For the new Canadian edition, last summer close 2,000 families applied to appear on the show. From those applicants, 575 families were invited to audition in person at 15 sites across the country, including the Vancouver site for the Rams.
In November, Atish was named Volunteer of the Year during the Now-Leader’s 17th annual Community Leader Awards. He received top honour in the category for his work with Shaw TV to create, produce and host the “A Night of Miracles” telethon that would later be called “World of Smiles Telethon” and run for 15 years, raising more than $2.5 million.