- The Bold and the Beautiful is celebrating its 8000th episode.
- John McCook, who plays Eric Forrester, is one of only two actors who has been there from the beginning. Here he shares some memories with us.
- There's a reason the show has been around for so long. "It's good. It's fun to watch," says John.
- Episode 8000 airs Tuesday, 16 February at 17:30 on Eva (DStv 141).
The 8000th episode of The Bold and the Beautiful is a huge event in the show's history – and it's going to be an episode to remember. According to Bradley P. Bell, executive producer and head writer, the notable episode is classic Bold and Beautiful drama. "The story centres around an event so profound, it sends shockwaves throughout the lives of the Forresters, Spencers, Avants, Spectras and Logans for years to come," he says.
For longstanding cast member John McCook, who plays the patriarch of the Forrester family, the number of episodes or years the show has been going isn't what's important. "We actors count the shows in storyline beats, which go three and four months at a time," he says. "It's always surprising to me when someone says we're celebrating 7000 or 8000 episodes because I don't keep track of the numbers."
He does agree, however, that there's a reason the show has been around for so long. "It's good. It's fun to watch," he explains. "The stories move quickly. And even when they don't, it's always fun to watch the characters you know so well."
John's involvement in the show started when its creator, the late Bill Bell, asked him if he would be interested in doing a new soap. "I'd been working on The Young and the Restless prior to that and had left to pursue other projects," John says. "I said no at first, but he convinced me. He said he needed Susan Flannery and me to form the main couple of the show and then he could build the cast from there."
He was convinced the show had a good chance of surviving, seeing it had been ordered by CBS. He wasn't wrong!
The veteran actor reminisces about how excited he was on his very first day. "I loved the first scenes, which were backstage at a fashion show, with Ridge, Thorne, Eric and a bunch of models," he remembers. "The most exciting thing though, was walking through a stage that, the last time I had seen it, had been completely empty. I walked onto Stage 31, and I saw the Forrester living room set for the first time. It was big and gorgeous and exciting. I said to myself, 'That's my house. Let's get going.'"
Over the years, John and Eric have been through some major adventures together, and John is protective of his character.
"Being in an unhealthy marriage with Stephanie, and how difficult that was. How he stepped outside the marriage to get his needs met. But my feelings for him are still the same. He hasn't changed a lot. He's happy with Quinn right now."
Throughout the years, the head of the Forrester clan has seen many actors come and go, including Susan Flannery, who was by his side for many years. "She was a great co-star," he says, "And now I'm very happy to have Thorsten Kaye and the beautiful Rena Sofer as strong co-stars."
There are also those he's worked with for decades, including Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke) who was there from the beginning. "People always ask if the cast are close friends outside the studio too. The answer is no," he says straightforwardly. "It's because we spend so much time together on set and we need time away. But it's nice to have a whole other set of people to be close to, who are not your family. We develop strong feelings for each other. That's because we are sharing strong emotions every day in our work."
One of his funniest and fondest memories of the show was the time Betty White (of The Golden Girls fame) made a guest appearance. "I really enjoyed working with her. Her character, Ann, was the best written character for a guest that we ever had. Betty has a lovely sense of humour, yet she was playing a dramatic role," he remembers. He had agreed that she could use his dressing room while filming, because it was close to the stage. The first morning she was in, he stuck his head into the dressing room to say hello. "She was sitting at my desk. She said, "Thanks for the room. You know, we could share it," and she gave me a wonderful wink. I really enjoyed working with her."
Part of John's responsibilities involve travelling around the world to promote the show, and he's visited many places, including Italy, France, Australia and even South Africa. "I'm most proud when we go someplace and see how enthusiastic the fans are to see us," he says. Visiting the country isn't John's only link to South Africa. He was once married to the late South African dancer and movie star Juliet Prowse. They had a son together called Seth, who is also an actor.
If there's one thing The Bold and the Beautiful excels at, it's weddings. There have been 90 on the show to date! "I'm pretty wedding-ed out," says John. "Plus they are a pain to shoot. They are very laborious shows technically, and they entail a lot of sitting around waiting and a lot of patience. A couple of years ago, my daughter, Molly, actually got married in real life, and it was a beautiful wedding. Now that was the time of my life!"
One thing's for sure; we'll be seeing lots more of John in The Bold and the Beautiful in the years to come. "It waxes and wanes how much Eric is in the story," he says. "But I'm just happy that Eric is still there." And so are we.
Watch The Bold and the Beautiful Monday to Friday at 17:30 on Eva (DStv 141) with Episode 8000 on Tuesday, 16 February.