WARNING: THIS COLUMN CONTAINS NAME-DROPPING FROM THE START
Larry Hagman has just bumped fists with me. I’m introduced as being from the BBC.
Larry: Oh, they used to broadcast our show.
Me: I know. I’m here to tempt you back.
Larry: How much money do you have on you?
I’m joking around with Larry Hagman.
FLASHBACK: SPRING 1982
It’s 30 years ago, like it says. A slim, hirsute young man is lying on the floor in the family living room, transfixed by Dallas on the Sony Trinitron. At the tender age of 16 (get that look off your face, I was born in 1965 and, anyway, this is my flashback), he has little idea that his life will take him into the world of broadcasting, and that one day his house will be full of Sonys. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist that. It’s unforgivable. Just awful.)
On the screen, the big hair, big cars and big storylines that will become a staple of Dallas clip shows for decades are playing out in that blurry American TV colour we put up with because we didn’t know better. I love this show and I vow there and then that one day I will meet its stars.
Obviously, I made no such vow, but I feel the flashback calls for a cliffhanger.
THREE WEEKS AGO
A friend who is an even bigger fan of the show than I am emails me with exciting news. He’s involved in the launch party for the re-cowboy-booted version of Dallas, coming to Channel 5. Would I like to go along as one of his guests? My fingers hover over the reply button.
TWO WEEKS AGO
Not too sure about that last cliffhanger, either. I would have climbed Everest in clogs to go to that launch. I would have kissed Piers Morgan. I would have bathed in my own urine for the rest of my life just to see my heroes in person.
Upon reflection, I should apologise for the overwrought imagery in the previous paragraph. Of course I would never kiss Piers Morgan.
The night of the launch arrives at a swanky venue on the banks of the Thames across from that new shard-like building. Sir Richard Desmond (as he will surely be known in future, having brought Dallas back to these shores) had thrown a cheque at the event. There were real horses and cattle outside, and inside, more free drinks than at the Oil Baron’s Ball.
Moments before the cast of the new Dallas are due onstage, my friend who got me in ushers me to a roped-off area. And there, suddenly, is Patrick Duffy. I’m unexpectedly making small talk with Bobby Ewing. He is charming, handsome and far too polite to ask who this dork is. He tells me he’s in town until the day after tomorrow, but Larry is off first thing in the morning. I’m aware that Larry is standing next to him. He’s wearing JR’s stetson and he looks like Larry Hagman. Writing this, I’m suddenly worried that I may also have been wearing a stetson, which a woman from Channel 5 handed me earlier.
Larry – perhaps because he doesn’t like to shake hands? – offers me a fist bump and well, that’s where you came in.
I didn’t buy the show back for the BBC, but I did have the night of my life. Linda Gray looked fabulous, and they all seemed as pleased as I was to be back. Sometimes you just have to be a fan.
Eddie Mair co-presentes iPM on Saturday at 5:45am and hosts PM from Monday to Friday at 5:00pm, both on Radio 4