Why did Craig Ferguson leave America? Talk show host was highly successful but returned to Scotland, here's why

Ferguson will host ABC’s upcoming game show 'The Hustler’, which he says 'has a ‘The Bachelor’-y type thing where you're trying to figure out who is this, what's their motive'


                            Why did Craig Ferguson leave America? Talk show host was highly successful but returned to Scotland, here's why
Craig Ferguson (Getty Images)

ABC’s upcoming game show ‘The Hustler’, with Craig Ferguson as host, “breaks the game show mold by featuring one player who secretly already knows the answers”. As per Entertainment Weekly, in each episode, five contestants answer trivia questions (worth $10,000 each) to build up their cash prize. But one among them, the titular Hustler, knows all of the answers and eliminates two players over the course of the game. The remaining three must decide who they think the Hustler is and either split the money between themselves if they're right or watch the Hustler go home with everything if they're wrong. Ferguson, however, describes it as: “It has a slight reality show feel in the sense that you're trying to figure out who these people are. So it has a ‘The Bachelor’-y type thing where you're trying to figure out who is this, what's their motive, and why are they like that? And then it has an almost murder mystery feel about it, too.”

The game sounds fun. But Ferguson as a host is equally fascinating. The 58-year-old Scottish-American television host, comedian, author, and actor, is best known for hosting the CBS late-night talk show ‘The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson’, for which he won a Peabody Award in 2009. But the man, who became an American citizen on February 1, 2008, returned to Scotland after a spectacular career in American television.

In 2014, Ferguson said that he was leaving CBS because “ten years is a very long time in one job -- for me. I wanted to leave the show before I stopped enjoying it. That was my goal. I didn’t want it to be a chore.” In 2019, he returned to Scotland -- he grew up in the new town of Cumbernauld, near Glasgow -- to perform stand-up in Edinburgh Fringe. It was at the Fringe when he was spotted by an American agent and lured to Hollywood.

Why did he return? Or rather, why did he leave America?

One reason, as per a profile of the comedian in The Guardian, is that his younger son goes to school in Glasgow. But there are possibly other reasons for him to return to his roots, one being disillusionment.

In an interview in 2019, he said, “When I got to Los Angeles I initially thought I was successful just by being there. But fortunately, I had blown it early enough in my career to be able to recover. I see young performers, and I was like them once, who think their talent is unique and this talent will dispel all problems you have; that if you’re late, or drunk or an a**hole then it won’t matter. But what I’ve discovered is that talent isn’t that rare. It’s like your driver’s license.”

He told The Guardian in 2019 that the Trump era has radically changed the late-night landscape, ushering in a far more political form of comedy. He said, “I don’t know how I would be now, because to be non-political would be seen as political. If I’m honest, what really happened with me and ‘Late Night’ was that I was having a great time but I got bored and I was ready to go.”

He also did not feel like himself there, or so he said in another 2019 interview. “Yet Hollywood took away the debate I had with myself about whether I was successful. I know now I have been successful in a couple of different things. But for a long time, I couldn’t admit that to myself. It didn’t feel Glaswegian to say that. What I’ve come to realize is if I don’t admit I’ve succeeded then I didnae. I have to admit it -- or it’s not real. This doesn’t make me a bad person. It just makes me a lucky man,” he said.

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