5×5 With The Hook: Debi Drennan.

The next time you’re watching Murdoch Mysteries, Dragons’ Den or any number of television series as far back as the Seventies and you think, “Wow, Yannick Bisson looks yummy!”, you can thank today’s guest.

(And yes, my wife and many of you out there have had that very thought, you know you have.)

But back to Debi Drennan. TV make-up artists aren’t just about making the talent look good, not by a long shot. No, make-up artists are just that… artists. They’re as vital to the special effects team – and for that matter, the whole production – as whatever they make fake blood out of. Debi and her team are the unsung heroes of film and television production.

It’s easy to overlook the contributions of masterful crew members like Debi but the truth is, if you took Debi out of the MM equation Yannick Bisson would look like… well, me.

Okay, so maybe not that bad, but you get the picture right? Debi Drennan is a true unsung hero; a show like Murdoch Mysteries demands excellence from every moving part – of which there are a seemingly endless number – and so everyone has to be at the top of their game. I am truly honored to have Debi today, especially when I think about all this great Canadian’s accomplished in her time on this planet.

 Debi is the co-creator of the horribly-underrated series, Bomb Girls, which was based on her grandmothers story from World War Two. As the grandson of a German immigrant who served as a nurse for the Reich and a Polish resistance fighter (quite the pairing, right?) this makes me admire Debi even more.

Her excellence in her field hasn’t gone unacknowledged: Debi has an Emmy award, a Canadian Screen Award from the CSA and seven (!) Gemini nominations for makeup. She also has a Gracie and a CSA for best drama for Bomb Girls. In other words, Debi Drennan is the real deal, kids.

And now, on with the show!

 g7pc5ea9Shh… Debi is working….

ONE)  You’ve worked on over 104 episodes of Murdoch Mysteries. (Kudos!). What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a make-up artist working on a period piece? 

Ha ha ha OK, so I obviously need to update my IMDb.

NOTE TO SELF:  Get a research team – when I can afford one.

Very funny. We just finished shooting our 150th episode as well we have done 2 two-hour Christmas Specials.

In 2014 my husband became terminally ill and passed. I missed three months of shooting that year. What’s nice is our 150th episode of a period show is going to air in Canada’s 150 birthday. My biggest challenge was the Circus Episode. I had the ivy to do, all the hair on the male guy, a torn throat and all of the other circus people as well as our regular cast.


I can’t imagine drawing a single line on another human being, much less pulling off a work of art like this.


TWO)  You were in the Dragons’ Den for a lucky thirteen episodes; is Jim Treliving as much of a diva as he appears to be? (Have you guessed I’m a scamp, Debi?)

Again your numbers are way off.

NOTE TO SELF:  Arrgh!!

I have done nine of the twelve years of Dragons’ Den. The Dragons are kind and wonderful people. Jim is a sweetheart.

Sorry if that disappoints.

(Not at all. I was merely indulging my inner-scamp, which incidentally, also my outer-scamp. I do that.)


THREE)  As an industry vet, you’ve spent most of your life behind-the-scenes, but what sort of movies/TV shows appeal to you as a “Regular Jane”?

This is s good question for me; it shows the freak I am. Lol.

For a living I crest death and causality but I can’t stand watching violent movies. I love a good romance and romantic comedy. I love clever writing. My favorite movie for many reasons, is Cloud Atlas.

img_7562Debi wasn’t kidding; her work is amazing – but not exactly sunshine and rainbows…


FOUR)  Do your friends ever ask you to apply your considerable talents to their special events? (Who better to do a bride’s make -up than the gal who makes Hélène Joy look so scrumptious, right?)

I get tons of requests for weddings but I pick and choose carefully who I say yes to. The thing I hear the most is, Your kids must of loved it at Halloween!”, but the truth is I work very long hours and I am never home for Halloween.

(You hear that kids? Avoid Debi’s home at all costs.)


FIVE)  I was impressed to read that you worked on The Littlest Hobo, Debi.  (So many people have just opened a new window to type “The Littlest Hobo” into Google.)  But back to business: Was that series not the sweetest and simultaneously, the saddest TV series of all time? Every week that poor pooch took off to find a new home!

Well, I guess I am dating myself but yes, I was key makeup on the first three seasons (1979-1981).

It went rep years after that but I had moved on. Littlest Hobo launched awesome drama careers for so many of us. A large percentage of the crew are in enviable careers today.

Funny that you mentioned it, as we just had a dinner with twenty-two of the old Hobo Folks and we are planning a bigger reunion for March 2017 in Toronto. There will be about 100 of us attending.

Not bad for 35 years later.

(I’d say so! Hobo is a series that has touched the hearts of all Canadians in some way. Debi can be proud of her legacy, that’s for certain.)



Longevity is a sign of excellence, especially in the entertainment field, and so I want to thank Debi for virtually being here today. I love to shine the 5×5 spotlight on the geniuses behind-the-scenes and Debi certainly qualifies. Once again, my thanks to all ten of you for being here today as I completely dropped the ball recounting Debi’s career stats.

See you in the lobby and on Canadian TV, kids…



About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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6 Responses to 5×5 With The Hook: Debi Drennan.

  1. Pingback: Link: 5×5 With The Hook: Debi Drennan | TV, eh?

  2. Fabulous interview, Hook. I’m really enjoying these behind the scenes discussions with some of the craft folks. 🙂

  3. shimoniac says:

    I remember watching The Littlest Hobo, it was sad and awesome at the same time.

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