Since U been on: will Kelly Clarkson succeed as a talkshow host?

Like Lily Allen and Charlotte Church before her, the singer faces the challenge of transitioning from pop star to presenter

Huge news: Kelly Clarkson is getting a chatshow. Which is amazing: she is literally the pop star we would all like to have a long chat on the sofa with. Kelly, who is also a coach on The Voice US, described filming the series as “really fun”, adding: “I just love communication, and I think there’s a lot of brokenness with that in the world right now; there’s just so much division. I want my show to be really inclusive.” No UK broadcaster has picked it up as yet, but it launches in September in the US and it will air “right before Ellen [DeGeneres’s chatshow]” according to Kelly. No pressure, then.

But musicians don’t exactly have a great track record when it comes to hosting chatshows. The format has a habit of going off the rails when put in the hands of singers. In 2006, Channel 4 decided that “being a bit mouthy in interviews” meant Charlotte Church needed her own chatshow called … The Charlotte Church Show. Clearly, someone had told her to be as outrageous as she could, because she slapped Johnny Vegas live on air, kicked off a chat with an uneasy Hilary Duff by showing her a picture of Paris and Nicky Hilton, asking what she thought of “those fame-hungry tarts”, and cackled about Peter Andre’s “massive” penis with Katie Price. She quit after three series.

Weirdly, that didn’t put TV bosses off signing up more pop stars for chatshows. Remember the slow-motion car crash that was BBC Three’s Lily Allen and Friends? Cancelled after one series, the format was weird (the audience was made up of Lily’s MySpace friends, because 2008) and Lily struggled to show even a flicker of interest in her guests, including one week, the confusing combination of Cuba Gooding Jr and David Mitchell. Lily’s natural speaking voice is quite monotone and she was tasked with awkwardly worded questions such as: “In your new film you get off with Penélope Cruz – was she a good kisser?” to the likes of Martin Freeman while lying on a bed. According to one report in the Sun, she “pulled her boob out and played with it for three minutes” while interviewing Paddy McGuinness.

At the end of the day, Kelly’s success or failure will all come down to one thing: is she interested in her guests? It might sound obvious, but good celebs-turned-chatshow-hosts actually care about the answers to their questions (see: Chelsea Handler) and the bad ones fail because they don’t (see: Khloé Kardashian struggling to find common ground with any guest she’s not directly related to on her short-lived show Kocktails With Khloé). Kelly is incredibly watchable on The Voice, but will she be able to translate that warmness and curiosity to a talkshow format? Don’t worry, Kelly: if it all goes wrong, at least you won’t have attacked a guest or got your boob out on TV.


Issy Sampson

The GuardianTramp

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