Entertainment & Arts

Letterman goodbye draws in huge audience

David Letterman Image copyright PA
Image caption David Letterman is retiring after a 33-year career

David Letterman said goodbye to The Late Show with one of the highest-rated shows of his career.

The star-filled finale attracted nearly 13.8 million viewers on Wednesday evening.

The last time the 68-year-old had so many viewers was in February 1994, when his show aired after CBS' coverage of the Winter Olympics.

Letterman began his late-night career on NBC in 1982, before moving to CBS's Late Show in 1993.

The finale show, which ran 17 minutes over the usual hour, kicked off with a two-minute standing ovation.

Letterman was joined by guests including Steve Martin, Peyton Manning, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Tina Fey and Jim Carrey.

Dressed in tuxedos, rock band Foo Fighters performed the host's favourite song, Everlong. The group once performed the song, by request, after Letterman's open-heart surgery in 2000.

And as tributes poured in from fellow celebrities, Letterman joked, "Do me a favour. Save a little for my funeral."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Letterman got a standing ovation from the studio audience

The comedian went on to thank his viewers before signing off for the final time.

"The only thing I have left to do for the last time on a television programme: Thank you and good night,'' he said.

The finale also saw a rise in viewers for The Late Late Show, which followed directly after. Four million viewers tuned in to watch James Corden, the host's highest rating over his first two months in the job.

But as big as the night was for Letterman, it failed to draw in as many viewers as Jay Leno's farewell from The Tonight Show in 2014, which averaged 14.6 million viewers

Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central's acclaimed late-night satire programme The Colbert Report, will succeed Letterman.

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