The chat show can be a cruel mistress: the likes of Jonathan Ross and Graham Norton might make it look like all you need are a few poofs and a piano, a bit of banter and a celebrity shamelessly plugging their new book, but it can be a tricky formula to get right.
Davina McCall learnt this the hard way, with the ill-fated Davina axed after just one series, and while the lovely Ruth Jones may be a great writer and actress, there’s something just a little bit awkward about her seasonal show.
While the host has a tough job to keep conversation looking natural and draw entertaining responses from the most vacuous of guests, as well as those who simply appear to wish they were anywhere but sitting on that brightly coloured couch (Kristen Stewart, I’m looking at you), the success of a chat show ultimately comes down to the right combination of guests.
With my time at university coming to an end, and my youth slipping sadly away, I've become a convert to this minefield of middle aged entertainment. Which has got me thinking, what exactly would this perfect combination be?
If you’ve ever been subjected to the networking exercise, “Who would be your ideal dinner guest?”, then you’ll know just how impossible a task this can be. But after a bit of deliberation, if I were the next‘Parky’ Parkinson, here are a few of the TV stars you might expect to see me interview:
My latest all consuming ‘girl-crush’ (I'm not altogether sure how acceptable that term is), Dunham has written, directed and also happens to have starred in her very own indie film, Tiny Furniture, as well as hit HBO show Girls. At just 26, she has already found herself the topic of much stuffy critical debate, the latest of which is the video she made supporting Barack Obama’s campaign merging the concept of two adolescent experiences – losing your virginity and voting for the first time (which unsurprisingly had the Republicans out for her blood). Funny, articulate and outspoken, she is the stuff of chat show dreams.
Charming, handsome and a master of self-deprecating humour, I struggle to think of a better potential chat show guest. I would be happy to simply observe Hamm brooding moodily on the sofa – which I happen to have spent many a happy hour watching him do as star of the brilliant Mad Men. But it turns out that in real life he has the ability to have a studio audience in stitches – demonstrating the comic talent he displayed in (far too) small parts in comedies Bridesmaids and Friends with Kids.
My obsession with American spy thriller Homeland has transferred over to its affable, Emmy winning star, Damian Lewis. Americans are often shocked to find on hearing Lewis’s real life British accent that he is in fact every inch the Englishman, and it's still something of a novelty to hear his unmistakably Eton-honed accent. Given that his specialities as an actor are subtlety and restraint, it's also refreshing to see just how animated and charismatic he is in real life. Across the pond they are fully signed up to the Lewis fan club, but we need far more of him on British screens!
The correct chat show combination is clearly a matter of taste – and my choice of guest may not be your cup of tea. So who would you choose? Anything goes…just as long as your list doesn’t happen to include any one from Made in Chelsea...