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A typical programme included three interviews, each lasting around 15 minutes.
It was customary for the first two guests to remain after their own chats to observe and occasionally participate in those that followed.
On occasion, an episode featured a single guest for its entire duration if the subject was deemed to be sufficiently deserving.
This was the case in 2005 when Madonna appeared as part of her Hung Up Promo Tour; besides her interview she performed two songs.
(He learnt very early on that in order to be an adept interviewer, he had to be a good listener.) He researched his subjects thoroughly, and, in the early shows, always had his list of questions to hand.
For example, he regards his chats with Shirley Mac Laine as bordering on flirtatious.
Such contributions were usually made respectfully, and when invited, though this policy backfired on occasion.
In addition, some Hollywood stars were honoured in receiving a solo spot, Russell Crowe being one example.
However, his ITV show was recorded in the format with very tight close-ups.
Initially Bill Cotton was keen on a format more akin to the USA's Ed Sullivan Show, featuring entertainment and chat.