Toledo family ready for Family Feud spotlight

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A Toledo family will be appearing on CBC Gem’s Family Feud Thursday evening, to come up with popular answers to fun, family-friendly survey questions with host Gerry Dee.

The Nichols family travelled down to Toronto in early November to film the episode(s) under strict COVID protocols.

“It was awesome; we had a ball,” said Charles Nichols, one of the family members who took part in the show.

The episode airs at 7:30.

There are 13 siblings in the Nichols family, and five participated – Charles (ninth of the 13), Michelle Jordan (13th), Kathy Leggett (seventh), Susan Perkins (eighth) and Barb Irish (12th).

“We were bored with the lockdown and someone posted on Facebook that Family Feud was accepting applications,” said Jordan.

This family is close. As Jordan explains, if she doesn’t see one or two of her sisters in a week then something is very wrong. Throughout lockdown the siblings Zoom and Skype one another regularly so when they found out that Family Feud was accepting applications they jumped at the chance to do something together.

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“We had to fill out a form with who would be taking part. They ask for five players and one alternate; we had to identify our hometown and explain what our hometown means to us; and why we wanted to represent it on the show,” said Jordan

They also had to produce and send in a two-and-a-half-minute video introducing themselves to the contest organizers.

“We ended up doing a Charlie’s Angels theme – with Charles sending us on a mission to infiltrate the CBC and impress the organizers to bring us onto the show,” chuckled Jordan.

Next they were interviewed as a group through Zoom and then waited. They had put in their application at the end of September or early October.

They got the call saying they’d been accepted on a Wednesday in early November, and were told to show up in Toronto the following Friday.

The five siblings drove down together and had to take a COVID test as soon as they arrived.  They then had to stay locked up in a hotel at their own expense until Monday when they got their COVID-negative results back and started filming right away.

The pandemic made the whole experience as wonderful as it was a bit surreal, according to Nichols and Jordan. One of the sisters who wanted to participate lives in Yellowknife but when it came time to travel to Toronto for the filming she was unable to join in because of travel restrictions.

“They really made you feel at ease, but it was still nerve-wracking. Then there were a lot of things that were different, like they couldn’t do our hair and makeup, and all the interviews they did with each of us were done outdoors,” said Jordan.

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Normally there would have been a live audience during the taping, but because of the pandemic there was no audience and although the two feuding families were in one room they were quite a distance apart.

“Gerry Dee was great; he’s an amazing person. On commercial breaks he would come as close as he safely could and chat and make us all feel at ease,” said Jordan.

It took two-and-a-half hours to film the half-hour show that the Nichols siblings can talk about. They absolutely refuse to say if they filmed more than one episode or just the one, whether they won or not.

“We can’t say anything. We were sworn to secrecy. You’ll just have to watch,” said Nichols.

These 13 siblings are not just a close family; they’re a Toledo family with very deep roots.  There have been seven generations of Nichols raised on the same 100-acre farm since 1827.

They still camp together in the summer and enjoy numerous family gathering throughout the year.

“We’re a family that sticks together. There are usually about 50 people around the Christmas turkeys,” said Nichols.

“He’s got that wrong,” said Jordan. “Actually it’s more like 70 people, when you count 13 of us, all our spouses, children and now grandchildren – it takes two 25-pound turkeys and a ham to feed us all.”

Most of the 13 siblings have settled close to home and live between Kingston, Crosby and Toledo. The girls (the youngest is 50+) still get together once a week for craft night, or did before the pandemic disrupted their world.

Brockville Recorder & Times is part of the Local Journalism Initiative and reporters are funded by the Government of Canada to produce civic journalism for underserved communities. Learn more about the initiative

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