The icon talks with THR about returning to filming in front of a live audience and his two problems for taking on the function of Professor Proton.

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Comedy legend Bob Newhart top to CBS’ The big Bang theory on Thursday with a function that was a lengthy time coming. Co-creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre had been courting the Newhart icon for years, constantly going after ~ the six-time Emmy nominee for a role on among his shows before coming up through the to win role: Professor Proton, an influential character indigenous Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and also Sheldon’s (Jim Parsons) childhood.

Before accepting the role, Newhart laid the end two problems that would bring him come his first half-hour comedy gig in year — it had to it is in for much more than a one-off and also his scenes had to it is in performed in former of a live audience, the only way Newhart states he operates.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up v Newhart to discuss his comedic return, the very nice of TV’s No. 1 scripted comedy and also what the future holds for the great professor.

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The Hollywood Reporter: The large Bang Theory point out your first half-hour comedy illustration in part time. Why this show?Bob Newhart: I’ve to be approached for various other projects — some pilots — and that’s as well much. Emotionally, i couldn’t go through another pilot to series, it takes too lot out that you and also it’s because that the younger people today. As soon as I look in ~ a show, ns look in ~ it from a writing standpoint. I’ve claimed all follow me that ns stumbled top top the formula of an incredible cast and great writing, and also then take all the credit transaction myself — it’s worked in three various permutations. I know Chuck Lorre personally and also am familiar with his work­­ going back to Roseanne and Cybil. The huge Bang theory is well written and it has actually an significant cast. It’s intelligent, which is a noodles commodity. It’s setup joke, setup joke, setup joke. As soon as we were doing The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart, we’d take it a minute to collection up a joke, however it paid off because the reaction was huge. However there appears to be a rhythm now in sitcoms — setup joke, setup joke, setup joke. As a result, the audience doesn’t understand what the joke is however they know it’s coming due to the fact that that’s wherein it always goes. There’s an interior rhythm. That’s among the reasons I took The huge Bang Theory.

THR: Lorre has said he’s been pursuing girlfriend to appear on one of his shows for a lengthy time. Exactly how did this guest gig involved pass?Newhart: Chuck to be on the lot when we were doing The Bob Newhart Show and also at lunch, he’d pertained to our stage and also sit there. We’ve to be going ago and forth, and also we never can find a project that we might both agree on until The big Bang Theory. He stated to me fairly recently, “What would it take for you come do one of my shows?” over there aren’t too plenty of producers who can use that phrase. He suggested Big Bang concept and I had actually only two points that were paramount: No. 1, mine scenes had to be videotaped live. There’s a tendency to pre-tape a lot of stuff and put a laugh monitor on it and also you lose something. Through Newhart, Lucy, Honeymooners, Mary Tyler Moore, and also All in the Family that was constantly done in former of live audience. I constantly felt the the live audience provides it adrenaline. That’s the only method I function. No. 2, I wanted it to it is in a semi-recurring role. He to be fine through both and also later referred to as me through the story of Professor Proton. In my era, it to be Don Herbert — he to be Mr. Wizard and also he did every these experiments for youngsters with common things about the house. It transforms out that Sheldon and Leonard flourished up on that show, and also that do them desire to end up being scientists. They found out that Professor Proton tho does children’s shows and also they rental him come come and also do what he thinks is a children’s show, but it transforms out to be a display for these two grown people. They’re both very enthusiastic and also Penny is amazed by among the points he does.

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THR: walk us v your work on the set. What was it like?Newhart: I inquiry Chuck, the writers and our director if they to be going to announce I’m in the show before the taping. Ns was a little nervous that the live audience wouldn’t identify me and there would simply be silence. They said, “We’ll come increase on you,” and also thankfully they well-known me; they applauded and stood up. That was really nice. It’s amazing how close the set resembled phase 17 at Radford, where we did The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart. The was favor going earlier in time. It was a relief. You never presume anything. At the very least in comedy, you gain that beaten the end of you. Friend may have done 20 an excellent shows in a row and also come come one, and it doesn’t work. You never ever presume anything. ~ the taping, they had actually me come the end last and the audience all stood up and applauded. The was it till I go in later to ice cream a various end tag. It to be a an excellent experience and took me ago in time. Ns don’t know what’s happening because us old codgers — Betty White, Mary Tyler Moore, Cloris Leachman and Valerie Harper — we’re having actually a revival, i guess!

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THR: Did girlfriend realize exactly how much girlfriend missed it? Did you feel comparable pressure?Newhart: I’m realistic. I have actually no desire to go earlier on a weekly basis. It’s for young people. Emotionally, it’s really tough. I’ve constantly said human being say on a dramatic show, “I to be crying. It to be so emotional once he went and also grabbed that little girl indigenous a burn building and handed she over to her mother.” In comedy, the finest thing you have the right to say is, “I think it’s funny.” There’s a tension and also adrenaline rush when you’re doing the in prior of a live audience.

THR: How has actually comedy readjusted since The Bob Newhart Show?Newhart: There’s a valuation with setting up jokes, i beg your pardon the audience wanted. Ns don’t understand which came an initial — if the producers and also writers chose that was method to go and also audience went along with it or if audience want it to walk that method and producers and writers establish it. Obviously, it’s changed in terms of the product you deserve to deal with. I loved Everybody Loves Raymond. It to be a beautifully cast show. They encountered material that Standards and also Practices would have actually said, “This is a joke. You’re no really walk to perform that, space you?” That’s the nature that comedy. This day there space fewer and fewer spiritual cows. In fact, ns don’t that the fear cows room anymore or if over there are any type of because the networks have to complete with cable and cable doesn’t have actually those restrictions.

THR: when ratings are down across the board, Big Bang Theory continues to flourish — a rarely feat today. What is it around this show that works?Newhart: It’s beautifully cast, has good writing and it’s intelligent. There to be a longing because that something intelligent — to credit transaction the audience gift intelligent. That doesn’t talk down to the audience in ~ all. As soon as we were on — together with Mary Tyler Moore and the murderer’s row of All in the Family, M*A*S*H and Carol Burnett — we’d get almost Super key numbers and also there were just three of us. We’d obtain 44-45 shares, yet there was part competition native cable. Now I look in ~ the ratings and also it’s the first time I experienced that No. 6 was The bible on the background Channel. I’ve never ever seen a cable display that high in the nationwide ratings. And people uncover the mirrors they like.

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THR: You’ve earned 6 Emmy nominations in her illustrious career. Is it your hope the Big Bang be the lucky seven that you finish up winning?Newhart: (Laughs) They desire me to placed my figure in the show up for a guest performance and they feel strongly around this certain episode. Ns will.

THR: will certainly you go back to Big Bang?Newhart: It’s a recurring part. I’ll probably do two episodes next year.

THR: would you desire to do an ext than that?Newhart: I don’t know how numerous legs this personality has. That’s as much as them. We’ll talk around it if they feel they want more. That’s strictly up to them. Ns didn’t simply want to perform a one-shot. I want to make it semi-recurring. In ~ this point, that’s what it was. That was an extremely enjoyable. Ns loved it.

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The huge Bang concept airs Thursdays in ~ 8 p.m. Top top CBS. Are you looking forward to seeing more of Professor Proton? hit the comments below with your thoughts. Check out a promo because that his appearance, below.