If we talk about auteur television in Spain, the name of Fernando Garcia Tola must appear in the anthology of the greats of the medium. He may not have been one of the most popular icons for the masses, but the legacy he left on TVE demonstrates his quality and commitment as a creator.
The two-hour monograph dedicated last Thursday in Tesoros de la tele to Esta noche (1981-1982), presentedby Carmen Maura, made its quality patent. It was Maura herself who was in charge of presenting the compendium in an introduction and in a closing, to recognize the stroke of luck she had when she was chosen to put a face to Tola’s scripts in this program seen by twenty million Spaniards for a year on Thursday nights.
A space that received harsh criticism from the most conservative sectors for how it approached the interviews, how it selected the guests and the completely free treatment that it breathed into the contents, in a Spain that had just come out of 23-F. Forty years later, Maura is still told the ‘Baby, you’re worth a lot’ thing.
Fernando Garcia Tola would have turned 80 this year, but the damn cancer took him to 58. Despite this, his career was prolific. In 1977 he directed Dos por dos, a daring bet in which he mixed the most popular interviewer of the moment, Isabel Tenaille, with the self-confidence of a first-time Mercedes Mila.With very good results.
After the aforementioned Tonight of enormous media repercussion, Fernando Garcia Tola found refuge in the UHF to act as presenter in If I were president , a program that remained on the air for two seasons, in 1983 and 1984, and where there were some airs of freedom that would have been difficult to transfer in La 1, with the frequent performances of Joaquin Sabina, Javier Krahe or Patxinger Z. A first channel to which he returned, also as presenter, first in Querido Piruli (1988), a radio format in the television that had quite an impact due to the interventions of the popular Pirri as a film critic (and who died shortly after) and Corazon (1989), which had less popular success.
The project that would bring together Maura and Tola in 1992 on Antena 3 directed by Jesus Hermida and Campo Vidal had an unfortunate trajectory. The eighties duo fought and the actress went out alone on the air, breaking the professional relationship. The program Nice to meet you did not last long.
After seeing this week’s compilation of Tonight it is clear that 40 years ago it could be done, and in fact it was, very good television. And that someone should take good note to, adapting it to current times, resurrect it.

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