Monday 22 January 2018

9 best chat show moments from Parkinson to Graham Norton to the Late Late Show

Bill Murray on Letterman
Bill Murray on Letterman

There's no thrill like the thrill of live TV and it's particularly heightened within in the framework of the chat show where the chemistry between host and guest can make or break an interview.

As David Letterman wraps up his 33 year chat show career this week, we've assembled some of the most memorable chat show moments from the sweet magic of a brilliant guest to the horror of an encounter gone wrong...

Bill Murray, Matt Damon and Hugh Bonneville on The Graham Norton Show

This was one of those rare moments  in TV chat show land where, as a viewer, you felt entirely at ease with the host and the guests who were all, within seconds, clearly having a ball. 

There was a distinct lack of ego, banal questions, and filler. This was just four guys on a mission for banter and for viewers it felt like actually being down the pub with them.

The trio - Bill Murray, Matt Damon, and Downton's Hugh Bonneville - were promoting their new movie The Monuments Men together although when the film got a cursory mention it almost felt as though the guests were disappointed to have to stop messing around for long enough to address a question.

They tucked into champagne, Norton talked about Matt Damon sitting on his lap and playing with his nipples, and Hugh Bonneville was lambasted for his Top Gear appearance that week in which he appeared to be wearing lipstick.

And then Bill Murray hugged Graham because he was Irish.

Why did it have to end?

Bill Murray on David Letterman in 1982

It was Letterman's first interview and Bill Murray did not disappoint, with an interview that went down in television history.

Murray, who was pre-Ghostbusters superstardom, told Letterman during the interview: “Do I miss Saturday Night Live?  You've never missed anything or anyone in your entire life!  You got out of Indianapolis and didn’t look back. I’m just waiting for the other shoe to fall on you, man, and I want to be there when it hits the floor! I had a chance to strangle Richard Nixon and I didn’t - and I regret it!”

He also played with balls of lint from inside his cardigan pocket and when Letterman questioned him on it, he said. "I wish you would quit trying to run my life."

Nicolas Cage on Wogan

Long before Bill Murray was diving out of giant cakes on Letterman as he did last night, Nicolas Cage was making interesting arrivals on chat shows, specifically Terry Wogan's usually pretty sedate chat show.

Back in 1992 Cage somersaulted in like an action star, karate kicking and posing and throwing cash into the studio audience before tearing off his Wild at Heart t-shirt and conducting the subsequent interview with a bare chest and a leather jacket.

Rod Hull and Emu on Parkinson

It's the chat show interview (not that there was much actual interviewing) to beat all chat show interviews.

Rod Hull and Emu, the aggressive bird known for his penchant for pecking anyone within reach of his snarly beak, appeared on Parkinson in 1976 and there was only one way it could unfold.

Emu attacked Parky, pecking him repeatedly and relentlessly in the head before knocking him off his perch and attacking a clearly terrified Parky on the floor of the studio.

The legendary host even lost a shoe during the attack, which is probably one of the most hilariously awkward chat show incidents of all time.

Russell Crowe on The Late Late Show with Ryan Tubridy

Hollywood star Russell Crowe was in town recently to promote his epic new movie The Water Diviner (which he both starred in and directed) and the Aussie star swung by the Late Late Show where a top notch interview with Ryan Tubridy ensued.

Crowe was slated to appear after Ryan O'Neal who had called his daughter the "devil" during his interview, something which Crowe addressed within seconds of arriving on set, "I’m a bit uncomfortable. Let’s not discuss it any further but how f***ed up was that?"

After an interesting interview Ryan asked Russell if he'd play a tune on the guitar he happened to have right there. But Russell doesn't do anything by halves so he spent several minutes climbing up to the band's stage, giving them directions, and fixing the 'midget mic' which would all have been fine if it hadn't been live TV.

Ryan loitered, ostensibly delighted, but clearly slightly worried about where this was all going. Russell eventually started singing but the craic wasn't over yet  - when the audience started clapping they were reprimanded for their pathetic efforts, "If you can't clap in time don't clap at all".

Brilliant TV.

Tom Cruise on Oprah

Tom Cruise's appearance on Oprah back in 2005 featured a predominantly female, extremely excitable audience.  And then Tom arrived and the maniacal quotient went off the chart.

He had just started dating Dawson Creek's Katie Holmes and was apparently very happy to be doing so.  So happy, in fact, that he couldn't remain seated, repeatedly punched the air, and the floor, and then dragged poor Katie on set for all to see.

It was a cringe-inducing watch at the time, and perhaps even more so now, three years after their divorce.

Meg Ryan on Parkinson

Emu had nothing on Meg.  She may not have physically pecked Parky in the head but her verbal jousts were undoubtedly just as painful.  Whether it was down to Parkinson's probing questions or her prickliness, this interview was almost unbearable to watch, and culminated in the obviously uncomfortable actress to tell the host to "just wrap it up".

Bono on the Late Late Show with Gay Byrne in 1983

The 80s were a pretty bleak time in Ireland but Bono's bleached mullet brightened things up no end.  This interview, conducted by the legendary Gay Byrne, is a fascinating flashback in time. Extra points for the nostalgia factor.

Boyzone on the Late Late Show with Gay Byrne

The band's big introduction was classic TV for so many reasons, not least Gaybo's obvious disdain for these dancing monkeys who didn't even play any instruments, but also because of the dancing itself.  Oh, and the assortment of costumes...

Online Editors

Promoted Links

Entertainment Newsletter

Going out? Staying in? From great gigs to film reviews and listings, entertainment has you covered.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment