Emu, Oliver Reed, Grace Jones: The greatest and wildest chat show guests of all time

From Emu attacking Parky to Will Smith reviving the Fresh Prince on Graham Norton, we look at some of the funniest and most chaotic chat show stars.

Lindsay Lohan and Russell Brand are among the surprising and fascinating guests going under the microscope in the new series of John Bishop’s chat show, In Conversation With…

Liverpudlian comic Bishop is a throwback to the glory days of chat show hosts, allowing his guests time to breathe and focusing on just a single celebrity in every episode.

Ahead of the show’s return on Thursday (March 16th) on W (BT TV channel 311), we looked back at some of the greatest and wildest chat show guests of all time.

1. Emu


In the 1970s one of the biggest stars in family entertainment was a giant blue bird ‘controlled’ by Rod Hull. Emu was loved by children and tolerated by parents and when he appeared on Parkinson in 1976, the experienced interviewer probably thought it would be a fun and light-hearted spot.

What actually happened was TV gold as Hull ‘failed to control’ Emu, who attacked and scuffled with Parkinson, knocking the host of his chair and wrestling with him on the ground.

Parkinson complained years later: “The only thing I’m ever remembered for is being attacked by that bloody bird.”

2. Oliver Reed

Oliver Reed

If you wanted great ratings for your chat show there was no better guest to book in the 80s than Oliver Reed. Guaranteed car-crash viewing, Reed became notorious for his boozy and eccentric ramblings and behaviour on live TV.

His most memorable performance probably came on the 1984 series of Aspel, when he performed a manic song and dance routine, including full dad drunk at a wedding moves, with the house band.

3. Nicholas Cage


The late great Sir Terry Wogan’s laidback chat show style earned him a primetime slot at 7pm on the BBC in the 80s and 90s, but his wry and cuddly approach was given a jolt when Nicholas Cage waltzed into town in 1992.

The Hollywood bad boy’s memorable appearance on the show included the most extravagant, scary and craziest chat show entrance of all time.

4. Grace Jones

Grace Jones

There is only one rule when you invite Grace Jones on your chat show – don’t mess with Grace Jones.

70s chat show host Russell Harty learned at his cost that you should never underestimate the popstar and actress after he turned his back on her during an interview in 1980.

He was actually turning around to interview his other guests, but Grace Jones took it as a personal slight and began relentlessly slapping the presenter. Her interview is probably remembered by more viewers than Harty’s actual show.

5. Will Smith

The Graham Norton Show has earned a reputation around the world as the place where celebrities can let their hair down and have fun.

Rather than a conveyor belt of plugging and promoting the show encourages it guests to showcase a different side to their personality. Nobody has bought into the Norton Ethos better than Will Smith, who was more than happy to dig into his Fresh Prince past for a duet with Gary Barlow.

He went one better when he was next on the show, performing with his son Jade, then his old DJ pal Jazzy Jeff and finally his Fresh Prince co-star Alfonso Ribeiro and Norton for a spectacular song and dance routine that quickly went viral.


6. Peter Kay


Whether it is on Parky, The One Show or Jonathan Ross, Peter Kay never plays ball with interviewers. Kay is a chat show host’s dream guest in one sense – he’s never dull – but he must also be terrifying. Unpredictable, chaotic and happy to muck around with the studio audience and set, Kay never plays by the rules.

John Bishop: In Conversation With… airs on Thursdays at 9pm on W, BT TV Channel 311.

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