Piers Morgan "flying flag" for UK in King slot

LONDON Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:57am EST

Piers Morgan poses for photographers as he arrives for the Brit Awards at Earls Court, in London February 18, 2009. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Piers Morgan poses for photographers as he arrives for the Brit Awards at Earls Court, in London February 18, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Winning

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LONDON (Reuters) - Former newspaper editor Piers Morgan said he felt he was "flying the flag" for Britain as he prepared to take over from veteran talk-show host Larry King, who will take his final bow on Thursday evening.

CNN's "Larry King Live" has earned its place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running show with the same host in the same time slot, but the mantle will pass to Morgan in January.

"The whole of America will be waiting to see what I do with it. I don't want to let down Britain; I feel like I'm flying the flag a bit," said Morgan.

Talking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, Morgan said he hoped to put his own stamp on the show: "I'm a different kind of interviewer."

King is known for his gentle handling of guests, who have ranged from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Lady Gaga.

"I don't think anyone's ever accused me of being a softball interviewer," Morgan said, adding that he likes to prepare before interviews while King prefers to "wing it."

But he said he would honor King's legacy and his audience's expectations. "I'm not really after skewering people's flaws: I don't think that's what people want from a cable interview show at nine o'clock."

Questioned about the American public's reaction to a new face on such a popular program, Morgan pointed out he is already known in the United States as a judge on television show "America's Got Talent."

"They see me as they probably see Simon Cowell and Gordon Ramsay and the other British exports: as a tough-speaking, blunt Brit who has a bit of a sense of humor."

Asked who he would like to interview first, he said Barack Obama: "I always think you should start at the top."

(Reporting by Isabel Coles; Editing by Steve Addison)

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