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The first word that comes to mind when describing Harding Lemay is legendary. Because, that is exactly what he is...a legend. For over two decades, Harding brought supercouples, social issues, and great characters to the small screen. The writer is most known for his work on NBC’s Another World. However, he also wrote for As The World Turns, The Doctors, Guiding Light, Lovers and Friends (For Richer, For Poorer), and One Life To Live. In this rare interview, Harding tells all about his experience in soaps. It was a true honor and privilege to interview this amazing man.

DAYTIME INDULGENCE: What was your time on Another World like?

HARDING: I, without a question, had the best time at Another World. I spent my best years at that show. And, if I could, I would do it all again. I also would’ve fought for my stories a little more. But, that is beside the point. When it came to Another World, my whole heart was with that show. Everyday, for nine years, including that stupid 90 minute expansion, I lived through the eyes of Mac, and Rachel, and Iris, and Ada, and so many more characters that I still love. And, I think that in order to do television, especially a soap opera, you have to live through your characters. Do not write want you want to see. Write what you think your characters and fans would want to see. And, I cannot stress that enough. In fact, I cannot also stress it enough that, that is the main problem with daytime today. That is why it is a sinking ship. No one cares about their characters anymore it seems. Now, I talked about my first stint on the show. Now, I want to discuss my second stint. And, I want everyone to know that when I returned to the show, it was completely different. Time had moved on. Characters I had created came and went...and some even came back. Anyway, the point I want to make is that Another World didn’t have a very steady hand after I departed. Therefore, the show started to go downhill. But, in terms of how the show was going, it was much better in the hands of Donna Swajeski. I think that if she wouldn’t have been fired, the show would still be on. Regardless of how we clashed back in the day, there is no denying the fact that she is a great writer. After her, I could tell Another World was really done. The next writers after her...and the producers...one producer in particular that I won’t get into, who still to this day has black hair, were becoming increasingly injudicious. And, after the whole serial killer of the 1990s mess, it was really over. I’m surprised it lasted for another three seasons or so. Oh, and on a side note, I was delighted when I won an Emmy Award for the series in 1975. That was quite the treat.

DISOAPS: What was your time on As The World Turns like?

HARDING: I wish my time at World Turns would’ve lasted longer. You know, Irna was the queen of this genre. She was the creator of the whole thing. And, getting to write or consult on a show she built is magnificent. I just wish I could’ve done it longer. Thank Heavens I got to be at Guiding Light for a touch longer.

DISOAPS: What was your time on Guiding Light like?

HARDING: My time at Guiding Light was wonderful. I was at Guiding Light at a great time...it was the height of soaps still. Now, to tell you the truth, I enjoyed writing for the show more than consulting for it in 1995 (I believe it was). That is because soaps in the 1990s had really changed and they were scrambling to snatch audience members, and they didn’t have a lot of the same great writers. Anyway, back to when I wrote for the show. In the 1980s, there was still a realness about the series. And, Irna’s legacy had still been injected in the show. I think that’s where Guiding Light went wrong. They got rid of Irna’s legacy. That’s part of why they aren’t here today. If you do not create the show you are writing for, the least you could do is keep the legacy of the creator in the show. That is what (Doug) Marland, myself, and everyone else intended to do with Guiding Light. And, I hope we succeeded at that. At that point, the show was still watched by over seven million people. And, I took home a Daytime Emmy award for that show. So, yes, I think we did a mighty fine job at Guiding Light.

DISOAPS: What was your time on The Doctors like?

HARDING: If I’m being honest, I didn’t like doing The Doctors. I came in at the tail end of the series. And, it was my job to make the show enjoyable for the viewers to close it out. However, by the end, that show became something it was not. And, I didn’t have time to clean up two to three years worth of a soap opera mess. I would need at least two years to do that. The Doctors had great actors...a great production team...but it had been trashed by the time I got there. And, honestly, because of that, I’m glad it didn’t last past me being there.

DISOAPS: Did you like doing your own soap opera?

HARDING: Doing Lovers and Friends/For Richer, For Poorer with the incomparable Paul Rauch was a dream come true. However, we were doomed. I thought we told really good stories. However, by the time we went on the air, the landscape of the genre was changing. It was becoming an entirely different setting. And, we weren’t given a true chance. NBC took us off the air for almost a year to retool our stories. And, by the time we came back on, viewers were too confused and too lost. But, I had a true friend in Paul. And, I am grateful we got the chance to do this show. He is still a friend...even though he is in Heaven now. And, frankly, I can’t wait to see him again one day.

DISOAPS: What was your time on One Life To Live like?

HARDING: I loved consulting on One Life for the year I did. With One Life To Live, I really went back to the basics. I really wanted to do something different. But, it didn’t work out. By the time One Life rolled around, I was getting burnt out with the genre. But, I still took the job, because I had always wanted to be with the series in some capacity. And, because of that one year with the series, I made some great friendships and renewed some old friendships.

DISOAPS: What is your favorite part about living your life right now?

HARDING: My favorite part about living my life right now is simply living. You know, I’m at a very old age. And, when you get to my age, you realize how precious life is. And, I am just very lucky to still be surrounded by precious people.




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