Piers Morgan has come out fighting in response to critics who questioned his visit to Andy Coulson in Belmarsh Prison.
“I find it surprising that they would be surprised,” Piers told HuffPostUK, referring to his critics.
“I’ve known Andy for 25 years. He’s a good bloke, the idea that you would drop a friend just because he’s going through a rough time, I find incomprehensible.”
Piers’ former colleague is two months into a 18-month sentence for his part in the hacking scandal that rocked Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, and saw the closure of the News of the World.
“It says more about them than it does about me,” continues Piers of his critics. “What kind of friend would they be? I wouldn’t like to be their friend.”
Loyal words from a man as famous for his sparring partners as for his alliances.
“I never start feuds or Twitter wars,” he points out. “But I am quite happy to react if someone else has a go. And I do seem to be quite polarising,” he adds, perfectly relaxed about it.
“No feud should go on for ever, though. It should be ultimately resolved, because otherwise you end up like Colin Firth and Hugh Grant in 'Bridget Jones', fighting it out with handbags at dawn.”
And thus it has proved. While longtime Morgan antagonist Lord Sugar - who needs the actual football with these two going hammer and tongs on Twitter of a Saturday afternoon? – and emerging US flag bearer Larry King continue to fight the good fight, it turns out Jeremy Clarkson of all people has succumbed to Piers’ more sociable qualities. “We’ve made up,” Piers announces proudly. “About a month ago, in a pub, with him on rose wine, me on beer and wine, until his daughter turned up to take a commemorative photo and then drag him home.”
Of course, Piers is back in the UK, with a new series of ‘Life Stories’, following the abrupt exit from his high-profile primetime gig on CNN.
He filled the chair of veteran Larry King, who has made no bones about his contempt for his replacement, complaining that it shouldn’t be a “Britisher” in that slot, and that Piers had made the show too much about himself. “He keeps going on,” Piers says irreverently. “He’s obsessed with me.”
Apart from this thorn in his side, Piers is reflective about his eight-year stint Stateside, as well as his most recent exit, given nearly as much gleeful coverage as his sacking from the Mirror in 2004.
“America is a great land of opportunity,” he tells me. “But they’re not used to straight talking, and they love and hate having from us Brits.
“If I’d kept my mouth shut, I’d probably still be in a job, but I couldn’t do that. I like to think that I went down fighting, though.”
Two such ignominious exits in a decade might be described by Oscar Wilde and followers as ‘careless’, but Piers remains customarily unabashed.
“I like to borrow from Winston Churchill, whose definition of success was: moving from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm,” he explains.
“If you think I’ve been on three primetime shows during my time in America, I’m quietly content with my resume,” he beams.
He’s hinted at “pastures new”, What are they, I wonder?
“Well, I’ve had my first proper acting role,” he says proudly, referring to his part as a – guess what – chat show host in the upcoming ‘Entourage’ movie. “So I think my next natural move is movies… and Oscars.”
The mind boggles. Does he mean hosting or, god help us, receiving?
Well, of course. And I’d pay good money to be sitting watching the ceremony with Alan Sugar, Jeremy Clarkson OR Larry King if just one of these humble goals comes to pass.
‘Piers’ Morgan’s Life Stories’ starts again tonight at 9pm on ITV.