“I don’t know if we can do it again, but we can give it a good try. The reason it took off then was that there was a big recession in the 1980s. People couldn’t afford to go to the movies and get a babysitter, so they stayed at home and watched Dallas.”
The spectacle of rich people behaving badly might strike a chord once more, then, in austere times. Hagman assures me that JR hasn’t changed a bit. “He hasn’t mellowed at all. He’s got a little slower, but he is still a son-of-a-bitch," he cackles.
For Gray, by contrast, it was vital to know that Sue Ellen had changed. Brace yourselves, Dallas fans - there’ll be no sign of a sozzled Sue Ellen any time soon. “I feel Sue Ellen has been there, done that and finished that chapter. I got bored of it. And when an actor gets bored, it translates onto the screen. So 20 years later, I didn’t want her to be drinking, and I was going to be very verbal about it if she was.” Luckily, the producers agreed.
“There were a few women on the original show, but no one at executive producer level. I was excited our business had changed. It’s still a male industry, but there are many more women executives bringing strong female characters to the screen - though we still have a long way to go."
Gray identifies Britain as leading the way in employing older actresses. “I applaud the UK because you embrace older women much more than we do, and there’s such a life-force energy that comes when you keep on working.”
For Gray – as for Duffy and Hagman – returning to Dallas was akin to returning home. And Gray had an added incentive, as, for the first time ever, Sue Ellen gets to hit JR.
“It was supposed to be a secret,” Gray says giddily, “but Larry let it slip. It was wonderful, but they had to teach me how to do it properly because I had no idea. So that’s really good fun because, you know, JR certainly deserves it.”