Those of us who watched his unlikely transfer to American television and wondered if the move might inaugurate a new and more mature chapter in his career have been disappointed. Redemption eludes him as yet. Morgan has occasionally respectable moments, but they continue to be punctuated with the same old flippancy, coupled with a tendency, which is less than ideal in an interviewer, to badger his guests. Piers, it seems, will be Piers, and he appears to take to heart his favorite slogan, “One day you’re the cock of the walk, the next a feather duster”: For every day on which he gratifyingly dismantles a hopeless chancer such as Touré, the next he embarrassingly browbeats three other guests into submission on irrelevant topics or, conversely, asks them superfluous softball questions that would be more at home in an infomercial. He almost makes one yearn for the days of Larry King’s hard-hitting, substantive interviews.

And yet, in private, he’s quite charming. When I was up at Oxford, he took part with gusto in a debate at the Oxford Union and then stayed up late in the Gladstone Room, happily drinking and talking with everyone who wished to meet him, until the very last person admitted to fatigue. Then, he was engaging and patient, but from what I can gather, something irregular happens to Piers Morgan when he is put in front of a camera or given the editor’s chair; something that turns him into a vainglorious and cavalier host with something to prove. Were he to conduct his business from home, with a drink in his hand, it might well be a different story.