James Corden is a household name, both in the UK and the US. In the UK he’s known for shows such as Gavin and Stacey, in the US for fronting the Late Late show, but not much is known about Ben Winston, the shows executive producers and James eyes and ears on the show and how they came to work so well together, producing some of most viewed content on Youtube with the shows Car Pool Karaoke sketches and many others.
James and Ben met in 2003 on the set of British TV show Teachers which was being filmed in Bristol in the UK. Ben was an 18-year-old runner on the show, partaking in a gap year before going off to University. He also directed a behind the scenes video for the shows third series. James was a 21-year-old up and coming actor, who had previously starred in a TV show called Fat Friends which had become a big hit in the UK.
They clicked immediately bonding over their love of Football, TV and comedy. When filming on the show wrapped, the pair kept in close contact and when James went back to film the next series of Fat Friends, he’d regularly visit Ben who was now studying at University in Leeds.
During the filming of Fat Friends, James would also cross paths with a young teen Louis Tomlinson who he used to play football with on the set of the show. Louis’s mum Johannah was a chaperone, her twin daughters Phoebe and Daisy appeared in the show. Louis would regularly accompany them to set, appearing as an extra in some scenes.
Some years later James would get a phone call from Johannah, explaining her son and his friend had moved to London and could he look out for them. James obliged. He spent the afternoon playing games and eating pizza with Louis and his friend Harry Styles. Louis and Harry went on to become part of one of the biggest boy bands of modern times. Their paths would continue to regularly cross with both James and Ben, personally and professionally.
Ben and James did not work together again professionally until 2009 when James was staring in Gavin and Stacey and needed someone to direct a sketch with his character “Smithy” and the England Football team which had been commissioned for Comic Relief. He immediately called Ben, it began the start of the working partnership we all see today with the Late Late Show.
In 2011 Ben Winston worked with James’s old friends Louis and Harry as he directed their band, One Direction’s documentary 1D: A Year In The Making. Again the start of a long relationship between him and the band which would seem him work with the band until they went on hiatus in 2015. He directed many of the band’s videos and even their tour movie was produced by his production company Fulwell 73, which Ben set up in 2003 with some of his childhood friends Leo Pearlman, Ben Turner and Gabe Turner. In 2017 the company announced that James would be joining as a fifth full partner.
A defining moment in the pairs working relationship came when Ben directed a documentary James appeared in with singer Gary Barlow in 2014 “When Corden Met Barlow“. The documentary became the foundation and planted the seed for what would go on to become Car Pool Karaoke.
Car Pool Karaoke has gone on to become one of the most successful segments from the Late Late Show. With some of the most viewed videos on Youtube, the first one featured Mariah Carey five years ago when the show began. To date, the most viewed Car Pool Karaoke features Adele, with over 200 million views.
Both Ben and James have had varied careers, producing some of the best-loved TV, either individually or teaming up. The reason their partnership works and is so successful boils down to the trust, love and respect they have for each other. Ben served as best man when James married his wife Julia in 2012. Highlighting how strong their bond is.
So they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and they utilise these when working together to come up with concepts that go viral and watched by millions.
The relationship they have isn’t just one you get by hiring two people and expecting them to work together. Theirs is one born of love, trust and a desire to make good TV. They make the artists who star in the sketches feel safe so they open up, which as a viewer makes for a great watch. Their partnership and the success of The Late Late Show really does showcase why they are late-night TV’s dream team.
Let us know what is your favourite sketch from the Late Late show on Twitter.