Reading Travis Andrews’ look back at an iconic sitcom which aired its finale episode 40 years ago this month, “The Bob Newhart Show,” I couldn’t help but remember my favorite story about that series, as Newhart himself told me on January 5, 1988 (you’ll have to imagine his stammering delivery):
Harris: Every show you’ve ever been on has been well written. Do you have a say in who writes the show?
Newhart: Well, you sit down with them and see if there is a chemistry and see what direction they see the show going and who they see me as. On the first show, The Bob Newhart Show, one of the conditions I made was that we don’t have children and that I be a psychologist rather than a psychiatrist. The reason being that a I know a psychiatrist would deal more seriously with people. I didn’t want to be making fun of really serious people.
Newhart: I didn’t want to have children because I didn’t want to be the dumb husband/father who keeps getting in trouble and then the precocious children bail him out at the last minute.
Harris: Which is the plot of every major sitcom on television today, by the way.
Newhart: Exactly! So, in the sixth year of The Bob Newhart Show, I got a script to come home with on Friday night. I was reading it Sunday afternoon and noticed that it said that Emily was pregnant. So I called the producer. I said, “I read the script.” He said, “What did you think of it?” I said, “Oh, it’s a very funny story. It is great.” He said, “We were a little concerned, you know.” I said, “It was very funny. [pause] Who are you going to get to play Bob??”