As they headed for bed sometime in the wee hours of Wednesday, late-night TV fans across the US will have been asking themselves the same question: who exactly is James Corden?
The 35-year-old actor and comedy star, familiar to anyone in the UK with a television set, has emerged as the likely replacement for Craig Ferguson, departing host of The Late Late Show on CBS.
Hollywood news site The Wrap was the first to report that Corden is circling the host’s chair. The Scottish-born Ferguson, 52, announced in April that he intended to step down at the end of this year. The news that his replacement looks set to be another straight, white male Brit was greeted with disappointment from many on social media, where there had been some speculation that a late-night gig on one of the major US networks might finally go to a woman.
The job would raise Corden’s profile exponentially in the US, where he remains all but unknown, despite winning a Tony Award in 2012 for his performance in the acclaimed play One Man, Two Guvnors on Broadway. He recently appeared on the big screen alongside Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo in Begin Again, but is expected to reach a wider audience with his leading role in the Disney adaptation of Steven Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods, due for release at Christmas.
Ferguson has hosted The Late Late Show, which is broadcast after the Late Show with David Letterman every weeknight at 12.35am, since 2005. He too was an unknown in the US when he took the job, but has since become a role model for British comics chasing success across the pond, such as John Oliver, whose weekly HBO programme, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, has already become a must-watch after just three months on the air.
Ferguson’s departure was prompted in large part by Letterman’s recent announcement that he planned to retire. Though the Scot was named as a potential replacement for Letterman, that job will go instead to Stephen Colbert, the American host of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central.