JAMES Corden introduced himself to American audiences as he admitted he was stunned to be making a star-packed debut with his late-night talk show.
The Gavin And Stacey actor was greeted by a whooping crowd including his wife, parents and celebrity friend Piers Morgan for his first outing as host of the Late Late Show on US network CBS.
Corden is relatively unknown in America and he immediately addressed that fact as he opened the programme, which airs at 12.35am.
“I feel I should tell you a little bit about myself,” he said.
“My name is James Corden and I’m 36 years old and I’m from a place called High Wycombe in Great Britain, which you almost certainly will never have heard of because most people in Great Britain haven’t heard of it so I don’t expect you to.”
He added: “I’m married, sorry ladies, this ship has sailed.”
Gesturing to his newly slimmed-down frame, he said: “This don’t stay on the shelf too long.”
Addressing the cameras in front of a studio audience at CBS studios in Los Angeles, he added: “We have two children - my son was four yesterday and my daughter is 16 weeks old - and I really couldn’t be more honoured to be stood here talking to you now and, believe me, however shocked you are that I am standing here doing this job, you will never be as shocked as I am.
“I promise you we will have fun on this show and I promise we will do everything we can to put a smile on your face before or, let’s be honest, more likely while you fall asleep at night.
“It really isn’t lost on me what a privilege it is to be given a show like this and I really will do my best not to let any of you down.”
The actor, who takes over from Scottish-born Craig Ferguson, taped the show the day before the broadcast and thanked his parents for flying over from the UK to watch his debut.
He said: “They have never been to Los Angeles before and they are already loving it, they are eating kale every day, my mum is getting a boob job next week.
He choked on his words and wiped away a tear as he added: “Thank you for being here, thank you for making the trip, I really appreciate it.”
The tone was quickly lightened when the actor presented a pre-recorded skit joking about how he got the coveted role as the host of a late-night American talk show.
“I’m sure lots of people are wondering how I ended up in this seat, and I include myself in that too, but rather than tell you we thought we would show you this,” he said, introducing a Charlie And The Chocolate Factory-themed sketch with a cameo from CBS chief Les Moonves announcing a golden ticket system to find the next host of the Late Late Show.
The sketch included appearances from Simon Cowell, Girls creator Lena Dunham, Billy Crystal, Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne and comedian Chris Rock all devastated or furious after opening chocolate bars without the golden ticket inside, before Corden found the winning ticket in the street.
Further cameos from late-night talk show host Jay Leno, Shia LaBeouf, Meryl Streep and Arnold Schwarznegger, who whipped him into physical shape while shouting “You don’t look like a talk show host, you look like two”, added to the star power on display before he brought out his guests, Tom Hanks and Ted actress Mila Kunis.
Kunis delivered an exclusive for his inaugural show by reluctantly revealing that she and partner Ashton Kutcher might have got married.
Asked by Corden if she had tied the knot, she replied: “I don’t know, maybe.”
Prompted by gestures from Hanks, the host inspected the huge ring on Kunis’s hand and declared “Oh, you got married! They got married, everyone! Oh my god, Mr and Mrs Kutcher!”
Other highlights of the show included Corden and Hanks performing a five-minute retrospective of Hanks’ many films, complete with wigs and green screen backdrops, as well as Corden’s performance of a musical number before the end credits.
Corden told fans on Twitter: “Well, so many truly lovely messages about the show tonight. I’m blown away, thank you.”
While much of the format of Corden’s show is true to the traditions of American late night talk shows, he has introduced some features that are similar to those of the BBC’s The Graham Norton Show.
Both guests were introduced and interviewed together so they can interact with each other and Corden stepped out from behind his desk to wheel a chair over and sit next to the stars.
Hanks addressed how unusual this is when he asked Corden: “You don’t want to stay over in the safety of the desk? I must say I’m a bit thrown by this, I’m thrown. It’s all on the other side too.
Corden replied: “I want to be here with you, when do you have a chat people stuck behind there? It’s not my vibe. There has been a lot of discussion and debate about this.”
Within minutes of the show beginning, viewers took to Twitter to lavish praise on the British star. User @sunnydeedoherty, wrote: “Our apartment is watching #LateLateShow and swooning over the amazing James Corden. Brilliant.”
Clinton Corley, using the handle @clintonINC, said: “Fantastic... no one knows James Corden and he’s got Jay Leno & a bunch of A-listers to do this video bit. Shows got possibilities.”
The bevy of A-listers also impressed @soniasaraiya, who said: “It seems that so far the late late show with James Corden has pulled more celebrity cameos than the entire run of other talk shows,” while @JohnneyTsunami added: “James Corden is killing it on the late late show. He’s such a charming guy” and fellow user Emily, using the name @_spacegandalf, said: “James Corden’s a natural! Welcome to the late night circuit, sir! You’ll fit right in.”
Not all viewers were immediately convinced though. Twitter user Ron Wells, using the name @LasVegasRounder, said: “I don’t think it’s going to take 3 months for America to be over James Corden on the #LateLateShow. Only person laughing is him,” while @jackObora said: “The all new #LateLateShow with James Corden is... interesting so far. Good. The jury is still out.”
Corden has already admitted taking on the show is a gamble but he maintains his humour can work across the pond, saying: “If it’s good it travels.” He told CBS News: “There’s a weird thing with us in Britain that we would go, ‘Oh, will this work in America?’ No one in America is ever going, ‘I wonder if this’ll work in Britain!’”
The play he starred in, One Man, Two Guvnors, was a huge hit in London before it went on to similar success in New York and Corden won the 2012 best actor Tony Award.
He has professed to feeling like “the luckiest man on earth”, but admitted apprehension as to how his presenting style will be received.
He told the Guardian at the weekend: “These shows are bred on familiarity. It’s going to take a really long time to get anybody to watch it.”
And he urged people not judge the reaction prematurely. “To judge it on a night or a month or six months, it’s the equivalent of trying a souffle after it’s been in the oven for 10 minutes.”
Later in the week Corden will be joined by US actors Chris Pine and Will Ferrell.
Corden received a relatively warm welcome from America’s TV critics after his debut.
Writing in The Hollywood Reporter, Tim Goodman praised the star as “youthful and engaging” and compared him to Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon.
He said: “This much was clear from Corden’s debut - he’s different.
“Corden doesn’t put a layer of cool between him and the viewer (or his guests) - he’s as affable and sincere as Fallon with just a little less goofiness. It’s a welcome trait, one that should put guests at ease.”
Goodman said the first episode “felt only slightly stilted” at times and that Corden’s “welcoming sense” could create a “dinner-party or cocktail-party vibe” for his guests sharing a couch on the show.
He said: “As first nights go, this was a winner for Corden.”
Writing in Variety, TV columnist Brian Lowry said it was a “slightly uneven” first appearance with moments of “inspired lunacy” and others things that need “work”.
He said Corden “oozed sincerity”, but appeared “more comfortable during planned bits than interacting with guests”.
The critic said he “cackled a little too loudly at his own jokes” but praised a sketch where Corden and Tom Hanks performed scenes from the actor’s career as “like a touch of old-fashioned variety, in a good way”.
He added that the “multi-talented” Corden would need “a pretty formidable bag of tricks” to keep the show going when the guests were not as high-profile as Hanks.