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Late Night With.......... Ross Leslie

Scotland's own Ross Leslie gets to grip with American and British divide re late night chat shows. Warning: contains "mild" humour.

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I stopped putting dangerous substances into my body in April 2002, sans a silly night recently odorising my "room of a nose" – a really long story, not exciting and slightly litigious.

I mention this as I turned on one of my new favourite television shows on the British version of NBC, and that was Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. And on this particular episode I watched the musical guest was none other than, Cher Lloyd. Yes, her from these parts. She was on doing a duet with Skee-Lo, doing a sample backing track from his 1995 smash hit (hey, I liked it!), I Wish (I Was A Baller). I thought I must be on drugs again – what am I like?

It's a show I really enjoy now as its got a little bit of everything – he delivers a bit of pure stand up at the top of the show (some of it hits, others not so much, especially if it relates to American pop culture that hasn't travelled here yet), silly and fun games, good quality guests and the coolest band since Aha, in The Roots.

There are so many late night shows on American television that they have to resort to Cher Lloyd to pad them out. Or at least that is how it seems. You see there are eight regular Monday-Thursday offerings for Americans to watch starring Messrs Leno, Letterman, Ferguson, O'Brien, Kimmel, Daly, as well as the aforementioned Fallon and this is before we even consider Colbert, Stewart et al.

And they all have a slightly different way of naming their show as we can't have any copyright claims in such a litigious society as the Americans have. It must be tough for them as they are limited to a variation of essentially two words – late and night. Too many more shows and someone will have to resort to "talkie-talkie-face-man-after-dark" to be a little different.

Fascination with late night television chat shows appears to be a solely American thing, I say solely, as I have only compared the two countries that matter – the UK and the US – sorry Andorra and Zimbabwe.

In this country we have two real chat shows, three if you include Alan Carr, which I am not because despite the title Chatty Man, nothing of any consequence is ever spoken. Save the obligatory "what's your tipple chat at the start?"

The two I do think that are worth mentioning are Jonathan Ross and Graham Norton – both distinctly different. Ross, for me, is trying too hard to be a Letterman or a Leno with his style and his matey ways and it is very formulaic – nothing that exciting ever happens.

Whereas with Norton it's almost guaranteed to be entertaining due to its format. A format, which never changes – three/four guests on couch at same time, musical guest, red chair nonsense – although admittedly the "stand up" at the start can be a bit hack and contrived. The guests on couch at the same time is what makes it so interesting as there is always a real eclectic mixture of guests, which I think some praise must be due to the person making the decision on who to sit with each other each week (I assume Norton doesn't) as they always seem to click and there are never many awkward social irritancies, which I suppose could be in part due to Norton's jovial manner and his quick wit, harking back to his stand up days.

And we Brits love to chat so it's not through a lack of desire for chatting. People are ALWAYS talking in this country. They never stop. Sometimes I hear them when I try to sleep. The Brits love to talk. A lot of our shows involve talking but it's more of a negative style about bad products, bad people and bad things in general.

What we don't like to talk about is success, and that my friend(s) is what it all boils down to. If we had more shows like the American's we could conceivably have simultaneous talk shows on Channel 4, Five, BBC1, ITV, Sky One and Comedy Central all with people talking with their happy wee faces about their happy wee lives and it would sicken every single one of us. We would be flooded with bile on the streets of towns from Inverness to Yeovil, as you would have a footballer, latest winner of a gratuitous cake making competition, a member of parliament, a member of Ant and Dec, and Brian Blessed – all of whom are on to tell you how happy they are in their lives.

We would not handle that well. Why should we? We still have the guilt of producing and exporting Cher Lloyd overseas to deal with, so have enough on our plate.

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