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.