(Link to the interview here—– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgT_D5xC3kM )
I think Terry Wogan is hilarious.
He’s got this dry wit about him that makes my sides split. He’s not afraid to take a crack at his guests, but at the same time can handle himself if said guests fire one back at him.
Guests like Morten Harket.
January 1986 was a big time for A-ha. They were reeling from their #1 status, had just embarked on their world tour and were busy recording their sophomore album.
Now, I’m sure Wogan had seen his fair share of musicians and celebrities come and go from his show’s set, and probably didn’t remember most of them after they’d gone. But I’d be willing to bet that Morten is one that stuck with him. The lads came back to visit again near the end of the year (that’ll be discussed at a later date, don’t worry…) and Morten was a guest on Terry’s radio program in 2014 to talk about old times and the “Brother” album.
This appearance is what I consider to be one of Morten’s finest in his entire career. Thirty years of morning talk shows, radio appearances and silly MTV-like interviews—and this one is the one I keep going back to over and over again. Even as a young lad of twenty-six, he showed that he had a great intelligence and insight behind that handsome face, and was so much more than a pinup.
Terry greeted him with a wonderful spread of Norwegian foods to make him feel more at home, even though he had been living in London for several years. Morten seemed excited to see what had been laid out for him, commenting that he hadn’t seen most of it in quite a while. They always say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and I would have to guess that his tummy was reminiscing of home right about then.
But then he smelled a bowl of what looked like thick spoiled milk, and his reaction was priceless. You can tell that he was trying to be polite, but his wrinkled nose said it all. He knew it hadn’t been prepared properly from the very beginning. The dish was rØmmegrØt, a boiled sour-cream porridge reserved for special occasions in Norwegian families. No doubt Terry ruined it for Morten for life, and I just hope that the next time he went home and his mother made it for him, he was able to stomach it.
Wogan put his neck on the line testing the fish balls (fiskeboller), which I wouldn’t have ever touched in a million years. Now, *I* know that they’re made of minced fish, but Morten—ever the joker—decided to take Terry for a ride.
As a student of two foreign languages, I can tell you that understanding the nuances of humor in another tongue is one of the most difficult things to get down. They can teach you grammar in school, but they can’t teach you how to make a joke.
And let me say that Morten nailed it.
“You may not believe it, but Norwegian fish…have balls…”
To make it even sweeter, Morten seemed to take extreme pleasure in watching Terry partake. I have to admit, I was actually quite astonished when Wogan didn’t seem to mind the taste, or question whether or not they were actually testicles. I’d like to think that Morten was probably hoping he’d gag. I know I would have.
Morten’s cheeky sense of humor pops up throughout the interview, whether he’s zinging Terry about the preparation and consumption of goat’s cheese or schooling Wogan in Norwegian customs and manners. It’s obvious that Terry figured out very early on that he had met his match. He even called Morten out on his sass at one point, telling him there was no reason to “keep showin’ him up.”
Clearly, they were having a ball with one another.
I think one of the most poignant parts of the interview comes with a more serious question, when Wogan talks about Morten being a conventional-type of guy, and asks about why he listens to his parents. Morten’s reply is one of the best I’ve ever heard from anyone, and his answer has always stuck with me.
“Because they make sense.”
Now that’s a stand-up young man.
Not only does Morten show a wisdom that is way beyond his years in talking about Norwegian upbringings and respect for his elders, but he does it without even a hint of snobbishness or entitlement. This is a guy who loves his parents and siblings and is grateful for everything that they have done for him in his life…and it’s very evident.
Once again, leave it to Terry Wogan to lighten a somewhat ‘heavy’ conversation by taking a crack at Morten’s (almost nonexistent) Norwegian accent. I’m actually disappointed that Wogan didn’t demand a language lesson right there, because let’s face it—Morten speaking Norwegian is like listening to angels sing. He could be reading the newspaper classifieds out loud or telling a dirty joke. I would have absolutely no idea what he was talking about and frankly, I wouldn’t care. Plus, it would have been a perfect arena for Morten to pick on Terry. Oh well.
Another serious line of questions followed, and it definitely showed that even though Wogan could be a goofball, he also knew how to get his guests to talk about real subjects. When asked about how he and the other guys were idolized around the world, once again, Morten shows a sort of clear-headed wisdom that most guys his age rarely demonstrate.
His response, after he tries to avoid the question by distracting Terry with the food, is very straightforward and honest.
He hates “that” question. He doesn’t like to be labeled as an idol. He doesn’t enjoy how people’s attitudes have changed towards him.
We see this all through their careers when they say there were reluctant pop stars and were much more about the music than being plastered on teenage girls’ walls as giant posters.
I’m so impressed by the way Morten handled this question, which he could have answered very curtly with a generic answer. But instead, we see the “real” Morten: one who is educated, sincere, emotionally present and not for one moment an air-headed pop star.
He understands that the fans have fun with their fame and, in admitting that he even enjoys it to a degree, shows that he is very normal in his personal life. It’s interesting to see him in this light, talking with almost an air of nostalgia in his voice when he speaks about how people have changed towards him. It’s obvious that even though he’s loving riding this incredible wave of fame and has made the leap to stardom that he always knew he would, he’s missing his old life.
In speaking about how people now treat him differently, Wogan assumes that it’s an artificial thing and that those around Morten are treating him differently because they just don’t know how to react.
And again, Morten impresses us with an answer that will become a trend throughout his entire life.
“It isn’t artificial, it’s very real.”
He gets it. He understands that his life will never be the same again. He realizes that, from now on, people will never again see him in the same light—and that he needs to accept it.
I can’t imagine being thrust into the situation that the lads were: not being able to walk down the street in their own hometowns without being mobbed, when seemingly mundane things like maybe going to the market for your mom or putting gas in your car suddenly become a game of cat-and-mouse trying to avoid photographers and fans alike. I can only surmise that it’s very frightening, in an exciting sort of way, to have your whole life turned upside-down in the matter of a couple months.
Terry puts it very succinctly. “It’s fame…you’ve got to get used to it.”
And Morten’s response, again, shows that he’s an intelligent guy and understands exactly what’s going on. “It’s fame…and that part of it [fame] is not very healthy.”
Thanks for sticking with it, Hakke. We all still love you the same as we did that day…maybe even more.