James Corden has the last laugh
ANDREW 'Freddie' Flintoff sums up the year his mate James Corden has had on television.
"We've done 12 seasons of a [UK] studio show, A League Of Their Own, but we do a US road trip show now as with it as well," the former English cricket captain turned TV jester explains.
"We went last year and nobody knew who he was, but the difference now," Flintoff tells News Corp Australia, "just moving around, was unbelievable. He's just done so well. Bless him."
The goodwill for The Late Late Show host is not just about his huggability; or as Rolling Stone magazine simplified his appeal recently: "he's just a chunky guy on your television, asking you to love him."
The global phenomenon Corden has become, on a show which airs after most people have gone to bed [11pm, weeknights on Eleven], is no fluke or flash-in-the-pan.
Earning his comedy stripes in the UK for more than 10 years before he moved to Hollywood, it's easy to overlook the body of work the 38-year-old brought to the late night table - and the smarts which have kept him there.
For those not familiar with his work before there was Carpool Karaoke, a Google search for episodes of Gavin And Stacey, the first TV series he wrote, with co-star Ruth Jones, will make it an instant must-binge this summer.
Yes, Corden played to body type, as Gavin's loveable fat mate, Smithy; but it was his wondrous wit as a writer, capturing the funny ordinariness of British life, which made him a star.
A sort of Seinfeld via East Enders.
When one of the most powerful men in US television, CBS studio boss, Les Moonves first came courting him to replace Scot, Craig Ferguson, Corden already had plans in play to transfer his UK celebrity to Broadway, as well as an HBO pilot in the works.
Taking up the TV challenge instead nearly 18 months ago, Corden knew he had to go big or go home if he wanted to stand out from the established late night crowd of Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert.
4 starstruck guys and a legend. pic.twitter.com/KWaIpCGuhv— Ben Winston (@benwinston) December 26, 2016
A chance meeting with Mariah Carey's manager helped kick things off, with Corden driving the diva around the streets of LA, while the pair sang along to her songs on the car stereo.
The segment's broadcast audience was probably negliable, but once uploaded and shared on YouTube, the clip would be viewed 26 million times and counting.
A version of her hit All I Want For Christmas was recorded for Corden's holiday special, featuring Carey and VIP cameos including Adele, Coldplay's Chris Martin and Demi Lovato was pushing the 23 million mark at the time of publication.
Adele's appearance in January set a YouTube record this year as the most watched viral video, clocking up an audience of 141 million people-plus.
A canny Corden knows its where his fan base lives: "we make the show at 12:37 at night," he told Rolling Stone. "We're only in competition with people choosing to fall asleep or not. But on the internet, it's a completely level playing field."
Whether on the telly, or online, he gets our vote for this year's best in show.
So sad to hear about George Michael.The sound of a generation.He inspired CarpoolKaraoke when he filmed this with us https://t.co/accTBXlkXw— Ben Winston (@benwinston) December 25, 2016