Did we like it?
Justin Lee Collins takes on his biggest challenge yet – trying to reunite the cast of one of the biggest soap operas ever for his very own Oil Barons’ Ball. Excessive plastic surgery, huge egos, and a baby that vanished into thin air all stand in his way. We loved it. Rock on!
What brought back good memories?
• JLC’s usual frank and funny voiceover. Particular gems included: “I’m so nervous about this, I’m literally touching cloth!”; “Back in the 1970’s, living in Britain was rubbish. People were skint and everyone was on the dole. If that wasn’t bad enough, there was sod all on the telly!”; “People say Cliff Barnes is a loser. Rubbish! He’s a winner. How do I know this? ‘Cos he’s in panto in Southampton. If we can sort out the trains we can hit him during a matinee performance!”
• Targetting Linda Gray (aka Sue Ellen), JLC’s rallying call to his troops was inspired. “Let’s get the pisshead!”
• Some of the clips were so cheesy it just wasn’t true; including Sue Ellen clad only in a bathing suit, singing in front of the whole Ewing family while they were all held at gunpoint. Trust us, it makes no more sense even if you saw the clip.
Larry Hagman revealed how his trips to Britain during the ‘Who Shot JR?’ storyline and appearances on Wogan being bullish about his contract negotiations eventually made him all-powerful on set, with the power to hire and fire.
• JLC bumped into Larry King on a LA street. And he’s turned into a doppelganger for the Simpsons’ Montgomery Burns.
• Justin’s interview with Patrick Duffy had some great lines, mostly revolving around working opposite Victoria’s chest. “He had the greatest job on TV – romping with the Principal and her magnificent puppies!”; “She had the most amazing set of cans I think I’ve ever seen!”
• The clip of Sue-Ellen in a black teddy showed what fantastic legs Linda Gray had.
Mary Crosby (aka Kristin) was still a very attractive (if slightly plastic-looking) woman. When she asked JLC if he’d seen the ‘No Trespassing’ sign on her six foot gate, he claimed he was dyslexic. “I thought it said .Come on in!’”
• JLC’s search (including home-made poster) for ‘Ugly Baby Christopher’ was inspired, and proved the show’s saving grace, as the 27-year-old Eric Farlow (now a perfectly good-looking guy) turned up for the ball.
What brought back bad memories?
• We’d forgotten how bloody annoying Sue-Ellen’s ever quivering lip and rimming of a glass of vodka were.
• Victoria Principal wanted nothing to do with the show and her lawyers had warned off Channel 4.
• JLC correctly identified how Duffy’s departure from the series and debacle of his return marked the moment when Dallas jumped the shark.
• A lot of people lost their jobs (and great storylines) when the whole season when Duffy was absent was written off as a dream – and it caused a lot of resentment.
Susan Howard (aka Donna Krebbs) was still angry that the Downs syndrome storyline – that still brought her to tears today when she thought of the letters she received from the parents if children with Down’s syndrome– was canned because it was in the ‘dream season’.
• The appalling treatment of Donna Reed. She was Miss Ellie for one season, and was unceremoniously fired when previous contractual problems with Barbara Bel-Geddes (the original Miss Ellie) had been ironed out. Sadly, she died the following year. We also suspect from Susan Howard’s version of events that Larry Hagman wasn’t as innocent as he appeared.
• Charlene Tilton (aka Lucy Ewing, the Poison Dwarf) despite being the youngest of the actresses tracked down, had probably aged the worst. Sack her plastic surgeon!
• The Oil Baron’s Ball was a disaster. Despite five of the cast promising to be there, only Ugly Baby Christopher showed up. And to his credit he neither cried nor scoffed all the cheese and pineapple…