The talk of Tinseltown: Scots comic to host 'Late, Late Show'

In the film
Saving Grace he played a gardener who grows a marijuana crop in a widow's vegetable patch; in
Big Tease he played a Scottish hairdresser who tries to crimp his way to success in Los Angeles and in
I'll Be There he played a former pop star who discovers he has a teenage daughter.

In the film Saving Grace he played a gardener who grows a marijuana crop in a widow's vegetable patch; in Big Tease he played a Scottish hairdresser who tries to crimp his way to success in Los Angeles and in I'll Be There he played a former pop star who discovers he has a teenage daughter.

Now Craig Ferguson is about to take on what may be his most challenging role yet - playing himself and hosting a top American talk show. It may only be a matter of time before people start suggesting him as a possible successor to talkmeister David Letterman.

Glasgow-born Ferguson, 42, will begin hosting The Late, Late Show on CBS in January having been selected from a short-list of four. He will replace the current host Craig Kilborn, who said he wanted to focus on writing and producing different television projects.

"Two and a half months ago, I would never have thought in my life about hosting a talk show," Ferguson told the Reuters news agency. Ferguson, a former alcoholic who moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, has a reasonably high profile in the US, playing the character of Nigel Wick on ABC's The Drew Carey Show .

But it was his two stints as a stand-in on The Late, Late Show - two days in October and then a week in November - that impressed executives from CBS.

"It's funny that the hardest part of the last two months was not doing the show, it was not doing the show," he said. "I want to make the show my own." He added: "This is it for me right now; I don't want to look at anything else right now. This is an enormous undertaking. It's five hours of television a week."

The irreverent Ferguson began his showbusiness career as a drummer with the cult band James King & The Lone Wolves, though he is better known in Scotland for the creation of the character Bing Hitler and for writing the stand-up series The Ferguson Theory .

His problems with alcohol began after he moved to London. He was able to overcome his addiction once he moved to California. At the time he told reporters: "I used to think I was a real wild card until someone close pointed out that I was just another drunken Scottish entertainer with a weight problem."

Todd Allan Yasui, executive producer of The Late, Late Show , said: "Craig can take a wide fan base and appeal to a lot of different groups of people. People will get a real sense that this is something fresh and different." He added: "We were looking for something that would be considered an inspired choice, something a little bit different than you see on other shows."

Ferguson, who is married and has a son, beat MTV's Damien Fahey, the former Ed co-star Michael Ian Black and the comedian D L Hughley for the slot as host of the late night show. The show airs at 12.35am each weekday after David Letterman's Late Show and competes with NBC's Late Night With Conan O'Brien .

Insiders say late-night television is increasingly important for the US networks because it attracts the kind of young audience advertisers are trying to reach. Over the past year many of the major networks have been looking to tie down new talent.

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