TV Times talks to Piers Morgan about the return of his chat show on ITV1

A Saturday night talk show… so are you the new Parky?
“Inevitably, you’re going to get the comparison to Michael Parkinson who was the king for 30 years. He was brilliant at what he did – but I prefer to do a more in-depth and forensic, journalistic interview over a longer period of time.”

Does that mean doing lots of homework on your guests or going with gut instinct?
“A bit of both. I want the interviews to be revelatory, informative, educational – so by the end the audience really knows everything they want to about this person. I would be amazed if anyone puts in more research than I do.”

You’re never shy about asking the killer question?
“I ask with a cheeky look on my face. I don’t like it to be too brutal and confrontational because you lose the audience and the subject. The guests know it’s not going to be like a conventional chat show talk where people come on and plug your album. It’s more me teasing out revelations.”

So how do you avoid a bland interview?
“When you’re booking guests for a chat show, the temptation is always to go for A-list. Everyone tries to get Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt but they’re often very dull interviews because they’re so conditioned to doing them, they don’t reveal anything. I would much rather have people like Cilla who’s a fascinating woman. And look at Boris Becker – what an amazing story.”

There seems to be more warmth around for you these days…
“Slowly but surely I’ve managed to get away from the stigma of being an ex-tabloid editor, which does polarise public opinion. You’re going to have people who think you’re a complete scumbag but that goes with the territory.”

Do you have Simon Cowell to thank for the change in attitude?
“I owe Simon a lot. There’s no doubt I’d not have this sort of TV career if it hadn’t been for Simon taking a huge punt on me with America’s Got Talent, which was a big hit, and then Britain’s Got Talent after that. He believes he came along at the right time in my life to re-brand me and as he puts it: ‘Piers, I want to try to make you more likeable.’ He’s a smart guy to learn from.”

He’d make a great interview…
“I’d love to do him and I think he might agree. We have a good rapport and I know exactly what buttons to press to get another side of him because he can be very different privately. He’s very interesting and self-reflective, much less cocky and arrogant than people may assume him to be.”

And if you could ask Simon just one question…?
“It would have to be, ‘Are you good in bed?’ All the ladies would like me to ask that one.”

Who would you hate to interview?
“David Beckham. He doesn’t talk honestly or openly about anything. I’ve never actually met him, so it’s quite weird because I know Victoria very well. She’d be wonderful but whenever Beckham does TV interviews he’s boring, so it would be pointless.”

What about Jeremy Clarkson, who once punched you?
“He’d be a great. We get on a bit better now and he’s an incredibly popular guy and very opinionated. Alan Sugar would be fantastic – I’m trying to book him, as well as Simon. I like opinionated, feisty people who will give as good as they get. I think that makes for a perfect interview.”

Piers Morgan’s Life Stories is on ITV1 on Saturdays at 10pm.