Jerry Springer aims to move from brawn to brain

JERRY SPRINGER, America's "Titan of Trash", is turning his hand to becoming British television's next Michael Parkinson. He is, according to Carlton Television, coming to the UK to host a chat show devoid of almost constant physical violence and confessional outpourings of sexual deviance.

Mr Springer's guests on the celebrity-based show will not be expected to scream insults at each other, and are unlikely to need to be restrained by burly former policemen.

"Springer is fantastically well known in Britain," Carlton's director of programmes, Steve Hewlett, said. "He is also genuinely intelligent, thoughtful and really good with people." The company is making a pilot show in which Mr Springer will interview two or three celebrity guests and do a stand-up commentary on the week's events. "It will be in the mould of Parkinson or Aspel," Mr Hewlett said.

Christine Hamilton, wife of the disgraced Tory MP Neil Hamilton, confirmed that the couple will appear in a video clip in the show. "Jerry is going upmarket," she says. "We would not have got involved in the Jerry Springer Show that everybody knows."

Mr Springer's attempts to woo British audiences also include a Jerry Springer in Britain series for ITV, which will be a copy-cat version of the traditional Springer show, using British guests and British audiences. Blazing rows and sexual revelations are to be expected, but United, which will make the programmes, said: "We are not expecting violence."

The building of the Springer brand in Britain is set against raging controversy over his shows in America. Earlier this year the violence was denounced by Chicago city councillors who insisted that, if the on-screen brawls were real, then the perpetrators should be arrested, and if not, then the public had a right to know.

After a spate of high school killings Springer vowed to cut out the violence, while Barry Diller, Springer's US distributor, said he also wanted the show "cleaned up". A brawl-free Jerry Springer Show is now engaged in a fierce ratings battle with Oprah Winfrey, with the two jostling for top position in the national ratings. Overall, the toned down version has led to the fall of a full point in the show's ratings compared with last year - a decline that some US industry executives regard as disastrous.

The Parky Wannabes

TERRY WOGAN

Wogan went out three nights a week for an astonishing seven years before being axed in 1991. Described at its height as "serviceable candyfloss," it deteriorated as Hollywood stars rather than their interrogator started to call the shots over what they were prepared to talk about.

JONATHAN ROSS

Rose from Channel 4 researcher to Parky wannabee. Secured his own show, The Last Resort, but began looking out of date and ill at ease. Went from being everyone's favourite host to obscurity. In 1993 his Channel 4 show Saturday Zoo flopped. Now in better form, he hosts Film 99.

DAVID LETTERMAN

In 1995 brought his hugely successful, five-times-a-week Late Show to the UK.

In the States he was exciting and innovative, but he was a flop in Britain, where he failed to relate to the audience and hit wrong notes trying to be funny. His British interviews were deemed unchallenging.

MRS MERTON

The leader in a new wave of "ironic Parkies", and perhaps better adapted to the 1990s than the real Parky. Like Graham Norton, her interviews are riven with comedy and a hint of real danger for the interviewee.

Chris Eubank seemed suspicious of Mrs M, and sat mute, declining to flirt.

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