HE started his comedy career in a band with actor Peter Capaldi, where he found fame with the controversial character “Bing Hitler” before moving across the Atlantic to pursue fame and fortune in the US.
Now Scots-born comedian Craig Ferguson has ditched his decade-long role as host of one of America’s best-loved chat shows.
Ferguson’s final stint at the helm of the Late Late Show took place last night, to be replaced in the New Year by Gavin and Stacey star James Corden.
His departure was announced in April, when he told fans that he was “unconsciously uncoupling” from network CBS, in a tongue-in-cheek reference to the words of estranged celebrity couple Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin when they announced their separation.
Weeks earlier, David Letterman had announced he was retiring from the “Late Show,” whereupon CBS tapped Stephen Colbert to replace him.
Once upon a time, Ferguson had been thought a strong contender for that job.
But “The Late Late Show” began fading in the ratings, particularly with the arrival of Seth Meyers last February as his NBC competition.
In an interview with The New York Observer, Ferguson said: “Part of me is excited to be done, but it’s also like if you live in an apartment or house for a long time. You’re happy or you’re sad there and life goes its course over ten years, but when you leave that place, you get nostalgic about it. Even the bad stuff...you get sweet about it.”
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He added: “But, the thing is, I think I’ve reached all of the corners of this box and I need to change boxes.”
Ferguson came to “The Late Late Show” in January 2005 with a varied resume including punk-rock drummer, author, stand-up comic and actor.
He had appeared in several films, and written and starred in three, including the 2003 comedy “I’ll Be There,” which he also directed. He was best known in America as Nigel Wick, the imperious British boss on ABC sitcom the Drew Carey Show, a role he landed after his arrival in Los Angeles in 1995.
As “Late Late Show” host, Ferguson steadily redefined late-night talk in his own image, a performance that earned him a coveted Peabody Award for his 2009 interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and at its peak, boasted national viewing figures of over two million.
While most late-night hosts do not say much about their personal life, Ferguson was heroically self-disclosive, mining humour from tough times including two divorces, career setbacks, and his past drug and alcohol abuse. He spent one entire show paying tribute to his dad, who had died the day before.
The Glasgow-born Ferguson, who spent much of his childhood in Cumbernauld, also talked up his new homeland, adopting as a frequent catchphrase, “It’s a great day for America,” followed by a wisecrack.
In 2008 he was officially sworn in as a US citizen, proudly sharing video from the ceremony with his audience.
He is expected to continue in his role on weekday syndicated game show “Celebrity Name Game”.
Corden is due to debut in the role on 9 March - while the slot will be filled by a string of guest hosts - including Drew Carey, Will Arnett, Wayne Brady, Jim Gaffigan, Billy Gardell and Sean Hayes.
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