Behind the scenes at CBC’s new National: Four hosts, one big risk

The hosts of the revamped CBC flagship debut alongside lots of fresh ideas on Monday, and as one of them says, “That’s pretty cool if it works.”

Adrienne Arsenault and Ian Hanomansing go through their paces on recently the new set of The National in Toronto, with the other national hosts, Rosemary Barton and Andrew Chang joining them virtually. (RICHARD LAUTENS / TORONTO STAR)

Who’s on first?

Inside the frosty fourth-floor Toronto studios of the newly revamped The National, hosts Ian Hanomansing and Adrienne Arsenault say they have absolutely no clue.

“Actually, no one’s even contemplated who’s going to kick off the first show,” says Hanomansing, sitting at the Lucite-and-steel desk that will debut when the CBC’s flagship news show airs Monday (Nov. 6th) at 10 p.m. with a historic four hosts.

They include Rosemary Barton, 41, in Ottawa; Andrew Chang, 33, in Vancouver; and Arsenault, 50, and Hanomansing, 55, in Toronto.

“I have to be honest, I don’t care,” says Arsenault, looking over at her co-anchor.

“We haven’t talked about it. But that tells you a lot. There is no question in my mind that other shows would have figured this out long in advance,” says Hanomansing. “But that has not been the issue.”

“I think it will be dictated by the story,” says Arsenault, arriving at a decidedly Canadian solution. “The story should be the boss of us. It’s really not about us.”

Less than a week away from the premiere, the tiniest of details have yet to be worked out — but it’s clear there’s a lot at stake. Following the retirement of anchor Peter Mansbridge, it’s the first time in 29 years that The National will have new permanent hosts.