AMONG THE DOZENS OF TV SHOWS that make it to the small screen, few have the staying power to return year after year. Fewer still transcend fiction and take on a life of their own, engrossing much of the nation in their plots and characters—and not only are the characters and the stories larger than life but also the filming locations. On April 7, The Travel Channel will air a two-hour special entitled TV Road Trip, which features the sites where many of America’s favorite shows were filmed. Actors from a variety of classic programs will recount tales while viewers get a glimpse of behind-the-scenes action. One of TV Road Trip‘s stops is at the Southfork Ranch, the main location used for the Texas-based prime-time soap, Dallas. Ken Kercheval, who played J. R. Ewing’s archenemy, Cliff Barnes, and narrates the Southfork Ranch segment on TV Road Trip, talked recently with texasmonthly.com.
texasmonthly.com: What have you been doing since Cliff Barnes signed off the air?
Ken Kercheval: My work has been mainly episodic TV and stage. In as much as I started on the stage in New York for twenty-two years, that is where I feel most at home.
texasmonthly.com: What was your favorite moment or happening at the Southfork Ranch?
KK: I rarely was invited to Southfork and always wound up being thrown into the pool!
texasmonthly.com: What draws people to the ranch even today?
KK: I guess it’s like visiting their “Never Never Land” . . . ah, this actually was the dining room where they all had dinner, there is J.R. and Sue Ellen’s bed.
texasmonthly.com: Do you think Southfork made Dallas, or did Dallas make Southfork?
KK: Although Dallas wasn’t that interested in our coming to town originally—and I think primarily because of the association it had with Kennedy—the show’s success turned its image around.
texasmonthly.com: Will there be another Dallas reunion show anytime soon?
texasmonthly.com: How did it feel to go back to the ranch for the filming of the Travel Channel show after so many years off the air?
KK: It definitely brought back a lot of good memories, and I was amazed at the number of people visiting from all over the world!
texasmonthly.com: What are your plans for the future?
KK: Keep working.
texasmonthly.com: What is your favorite city or place to visit in Texas?
KK: Dallas. Where else?
texasmonthly.com: Finally, who is a better Texan? Ken Kercheval or Cliff Barnes?
KK: Being a Hoosier, of course my allegiance is to Indiana. I guess I’m an honorary Texan. As for Cliff? He came from a writer’s pen.