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18 August 2023

Michael Parkinson: One of the top ten UK and US chat show hosts ever - who were the others?

18 August 2023

The legacy of late-night TV chat shows has spanned more than half a century, providing hours of laughter, engaging conversation and some truly memorable moments.

So, as the world sadly says farewell to the 'king of the chat show hosts' Michael Parkinson, we look at who else, on both sides of the pond, is in with a shout at making the all-time top ten.

Let's start with the United States hosts

1. Johnny Carson: With a reign spanning three decades, Carson defined what it means to be a great chat show host with "The Tonight Show." His innate comedic edge, charisma, and riveting interviews made him loved by many, securing great ratings throughout his career.

Johnny Carson


2. David Letterman: Letterman's career of over 33 years hosting the "Late Night" and "The Late Show" has left a distinctive mark. His unconventional style and sharp wit produced consistently high ratings.

The now infamous interview between Madonna and David Letterman has become part of US television folklore (Credit: Worldwide Pants)


3. Oprah Winfrey: An undisputed queen of daytime television, Winfrey's empathetic character, thoughtful interviews, and appealing stories brought impressive audience ratings throughout her career with "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Host, media mogul and author Oprah Winfrey has a reported net worth of $3.5 billion


4. Ellen DeGeneres: Known for her feel-good interviews and warm approach, DeGeneres's long-running "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" has gathered a loyal following, reflecting in the consistently high ratings.

Ellen DeGeneres


5. Jay Leno: Taking over from Carson, Leno successfully carried on his legacy for 22 years in "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," his down-to-earth persona resonating with viewers.

Jay Leno

(Video Elephant)

Now, let's move over to the United Kingdom

1. Michael Parkinson (of course!!): Parkinson's easy-going style on "Parkinson" made him and his show a UK staple for more than three decades. His candid interviews with high-profile guests from various fields contributed to the show's impressive ratings.

The late Michael Parkinson


2. Jonathan Ross: Known for his humour and edginess, Ross continuously impressed viewers of the "Jonathan Ross Show," consistently delivering high rating figures.

3. Graham Norton: Norton's spontaneous and hilarious nature on "The Graham Norton Show' has brought him a colossal international viewership, catapulting his ratings.

Graham Norton


4. David Frost: Frost’s legacy remains unmatched. His relentless interviewing technique earned high viewership figures for "The Frost Interview."

David Frost (left) was an English broadcaster and journalist who is perhaps most famously known for his hard-hitting interview with President Richard Nixon (right) following the Watergate scandal


5. Jeremy Paxman: Paxman's hard-hitting interviews and confrontational style made him popular during his time on "Newsnight."

Jeremy Paxman


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