Friday, 1 July 2016

431 When Terry Met J.R.

First  viewed : 25  April  1980

We've  already  touched  on  this  in  the  post  on  Dallas   but  it's  worth  re-emphasising  just  how  big  the  series  was  at  this  point  in  time.  That  wasn't  all  down  to  Terry  Wogan's  running  commentary  on   Radio  Two  but  he  certainly  drew  more  viewers   to  the  show   which  in  turn  attracted  its  undoubted  star  over  to  the  UK.  It  was  obvious  that  he  should  meet  the  show's  greatest  publicist.

This  was  a  re-broadcast  of  the  interview  which  had  taken  place   a  month  earlier  on  BBC2's  late  night  chat  show  Friday  Night.....Saturday  Morning , previously  best  known  for  the  notorious  couple  of  episodes  hosted  by  ex-Prime  Minister  Harold  Wilson  who  ran  out  of  things  to  say  in  an  early  intimation  of  his  Alzheimer's  condition.  That  show, the  first  Wogan  had  hosted, went  out  at  23.55 pm  so  there  was  a  big  clamour  for  a  repeat  at  a  more  godly  hour.

The  interview  was  an  amiable  encounter. Both  guys  clearly  liked  each  other  and  Hagman , though  clearly  still  a  bit  bemused  by  his  stardom  at  48  after  three  decades as  a  solid supporting  player, proved  to  have  a  sense  of  humour. He  had  brought  along  a  gift  for  Terry in the  form  of  a  jar  of  "genuine  Texas  bullshit "  which  stayed  in  the  repeat  despite  the  pre-9pm time  slot.  He  did  have  another  agenda  though  ; his  visit  to  Britain  was  part  of  a  lengthy contract  re-negotiation  strategy  to  prove  he  was  indispensable  and  his   successful   brinkmanship  made  him  one  of  the  highest-paid  stars  on  television.

The  encounter  worked  out  well  for  Wogan  too  as  it  marked  the  start  of  his  career  as  a  chat  show  host   which   lasting   for   over  a  decade. That  was  a  mixed  blessing  as  it's  generally  acknowledged  that  his  TV   stint   temporarily   neutered  one  of  the  most  slyly  subversive  voices  on  radio. We'll  come  back  to  that  of  course.

One  other  thing  to  mention  here  is  that  Wogan's  Dallas  fixation  did  popularise   watching  television  with  a  sense  of  irony.  No  doubt  Oxbridge  undergraduates  had  been  doing  that  for  years  but  now  everyone  cottoned  on  to  the  fact  that  you  could  justify  watching  the  most  lowbrow  trash  if  you  could  come  up  with  some  intelligent  quips  about  it. People  have  made  a  living  out  of  doing  little  more  than  that  ever  since.

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