Charlotte Church: best chat show host since Wogan?

I never thought I'd say it after the disastrous first run, but I loved the return of Charlotte Church's chat show last Friday.

Charlotte Church: lets her guests do the talking.

Not many people were expecting much of the return of The Charlotte Church Show after the disastrous first run. Certainly not me. Yet now I find myself writing the unthinkable: she might actually be the future of the chat show genre.

From the outset, Charlotte admitted that the first series sucked in the "hilarious" opening song (which has to go). This time round, the programme has been remodelled on something between Jonathan Ross and The Word. I was hooked.

It sounds cripplingly obvious, but the show worked simply because the guests were interesting people who do impressive things. (As opposed to the first guests on Davina's doomed chat show attempt: Tess Daly and Vernon Kay. A TV presenter interviewing two other TV presenters. Be still the nation's beating hearts: oh, they did.)

Church's impressive opening night casting included Billie Piper and Gwen Stefani. But when did Billie turn into such a hilarious luvvie? "Mirren will probably get something!" she squawked about the Oscars, as if describing a haughty classmate. She also clearly no longer felt the need to be diplomatic to former co-star Christopher Eccleston: when asked who her favourite Doctor was she said, without a breath of diplomacy, that it was Tennant. "Plus Tennant's really nice," she hushed under her breath.

Funnier still was Gwen Stefani, displaying a hilarious lack of self-awareness when quizzed about her pony new single, The Sweet Escape, with ringtone menace Akon: "Oh yeah, we wrote that song in like 10 minutes." As if we couldn't tell.

Sure, Charlotte was over pally, didn't give people much of a grilling and was too reliant on the scripted list of questions. But unlike Ross, Graham Norton, or indeed pretty much any chat show host since the mighty Wogan, she actually seemed more interested in her subjects than in herself. Certainly better than Russell Brand managed in the same slot. And let's not even talk about The Friday Night Project. Charlotte blatantly went for the It's Lulu model, but she pulled it off.

Davina must be sick. Actually, we can find out on Friday - she's the star guest alongside Noel Fielding from The Mighty Boosh.

Daniel Martin

The GuardianTramp

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