Piers Morgan confirmed as the new face of CNN

One of the worst-kept secrets in broadcasting has been made official with the announcement by CNN that it is to replace Larry King with Piers Morgan.

The former editor of the Daily Mirror newspaper, who was sacked for running faked pictures of an Iraqi being abused by British troops, is reputed to have signed a contract worth more than £5.5m.

Mr Morgan said it was a dream come true to take Mr King's place: "I have watched Larry King Live for much of the last 25 years, and dreamed of one day filling the legendary suspenders of the man I consider to be the greatest TV interviewer of them all," he said.

It remains unclear whether he will be allowed to continue as a judge in Britain's Got Talent and America's Got Talent, especially as the US version is broadcast by rival channel NBC.

Mr Morgan is mainly known in the US for reality television, but CNN said he was also a hugely experienced journalist. "Piers has made his name posing tough questions to public figures, holding them accountable for their words and deeds," said Jon Klein, CNN's president.

Mr Morgan made his name as a showbiz reporter for The Sun, where he ran the Bizarre column. He left to be editor of the News of the World at the age of 28.

He is scheduled to go on air in January as part of a shake-up at CNN, designed to regain ground lost to Fox News and MSNBC. Mr King announced he is to leave after his show suffered a 36 per cent slump in viewers. During his career he is thought to have conducted more than 40,000 interviews.