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As Patrick Duffy turns 70 - Looking back at what we learned from Dallas

PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 March 2019

Jordana Brewster, Jesse Metcalfe, Patrick Duffy and Larry Hagman in Dallas. Picture: Warner Bros

Jordana Brewster, Jesse Metcalfe, Patrick Duffy and Larry Hagman in Dallas. Picture: Warner Bros

(C) WARNER BROS

It's hard to believe that Patrick Duffy, who played Dallas heart-throb Bobby, is now 70. It's time to look back at the glossy soap and the lessons it taught us.

Patrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing. Picture: Channel 5/Warner BrosPatrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing. Picture: Channel 5/Warner Bros

Patrick Duffy is 70 tomorrow. How did that happen? That man has such a lot to answer for.

It was he who taught us not to believe anything you see on TV after we spent an entire series thinking he was dead, only for him to reappear in the shower with the ludicrous explanation that everything we had just watched for the last year had all been a dream.

The fact that we swallowed this, that I swallowed this, probably accounts for my gullibility with men in later life.

But that’s another story.

Dallas was a seminal experience of my childhood.

I clearly remember the ‘Who Shot JR?’ furore in 1980 being such a talking point that they even featured it on the evening news - I was so disappointed in the BBC for failing to reveal the answer!

Larry Hagman in his days as JR Ewing.  Picture: PA Photo/Pictorial PressLarry Hagman in his days as JR Ewing. Picture: PA Photo/Pictorial Press

Dallas was a master of the cliffhanger which was soon adopted by other soaps as a way to hook us all in.

Again, it works just as clever men do when they want to keep a woman interested – leave them hanging and they’ll adore you forever; give them everything they want all in one go and they will go and watch something else.

Discovering that Kristin, JR’s sister in law, was the shooter was such a huge relief to me though. I’d feared it was Bobby (Patrick) and that he’d be leaving the series and off to jail – or worse still, Death Row – this is Texas after all.

I did have rather a crush on Bobby aged nine as he was always so sweet and kindly – although in later life I tended to go more for the JR variety of man, so completely understand where Kristin was coming from.

JR was great at insults. Remember when he said to Lucy, “Why don’t you have that junior plastic surgeon you married design you a new face? One without a mouth!” and when he told his ex-wife, “Sue Ellen, you’re a drunk, a tramp and an unfit mother.” There’s not much recovery from that.

All the Dallas characters have stayed with me. Miss Ellen was very like my grandmother, stoic, calm and always putting everyone else before herself. I could never be like her, but I admired her immensely.

Jesse Metcalfe and Josh Henderson in the Dallas remake that ran from 2012 to 2014. Photo: Cyntax Productions/IMDBJesse Metcalfe and Josh Henderson in the Dallas remake that ran from 2012 to 2014. Photo: Cyntax Productions/IMDB

Sue Ellen, with her penchant for gin, surplus of emotion and determination that ‘Everything’s going to be just fine’ even though it never was has been absorbed by me entirely. I think I may actually be her now. Certainly more so than Pam, who was a wet week really, wasn’t she? – although she certainly had the looks for it.

Great excitement occurred when MGM musicals’ star Howard Keel joined the cast as Clayton Farlow (though he sadly never burst into song) and of course Ray and Donna and little Lucy and Afton and Cliff and even Jock (though he didn’t last long) were so familiar to us, we felt we knew them.

I even learned about sex from Dallas. As we never saw more than a bit of kissing, I felt sure that in sex what happened was that you woke up the next morning with a sheet tightly wrapped around your chest with only your bare shoulders showing. That’s right, isn’t it? Or have I missed something?

I certainly never missed an episode of Dallas so it taught me loyalty as well, even in the face of ever more ludicrous plotlines and dodgy occurrences – remember how Ray turned out to be Jock’s illegimate son, which meant that in the first series he’d had an incestuous affair with his own niece, Lucy, daughter of the rarely seen other Ewing brother, Gary?

The show also taught me not to be judgemental. Anything went in Dallas and they all still managed to turn up for dinner at Southfork and just carry on. I wouldn’t want to watch them now – the big hair and shoulder pads are long gone and the 80s obsession with making money regardless of who gets hurt doesn’t feel so amusing in this day and age, but I do miss the Ewings and all they taught me. They were family.

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