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ER: Clooney makes return and boosts ratings

George Clooney says farewell in ER Season 5

Story by Jack Foley

GEORGE Clooney made his keenly-anticipated return to the ER in America on Thursday, March 12, 2009, and boosted the show’s ratings.

The Hollywood A-lister and Oscar winner shot to fame playing sexy Doug Ross on the TV drama, but left after his contract expired to pursue a movie career.

As the show approached its 15th and final season, however, its creators were hoping to lure the star back for one last appearance, having already secured the services of Anthony Edwards and Noah Wyle.

And after repeated denials, the actor agreed to make a guest appeance in an episode that also included returns from Julianna Margulies and Eriq La Salle – as well as guest stars Susan Sarandon and Ernest Borgnine.

His appearance proved a ratings hit, attracting 10.7 million – over 2 million more than its usual reach of 8.2 million. The show is now in 49th place in the US TV ratings, having once been the No.1 show.

(SPOILERS)

So just how did the good Doc Ross return? Well, from Seattle, Doug was seen to work with his on-screen wife Carol Hathaway (Margulies) to persuade a grandmother, played by Sarandon, to donate the organs of her grandson to a patient at County General.

The recipient, it transpired, was one of their old colleagues, John Carter, played by fellow ER original Noah Wyle, who had slowly been deteriorating health-wise since his return to Chicago.

According to various online reviews of the episode filed from America, the return was an under-stated, under-played affair that made it feel as though Clooney (or Ross) had never left.

There was some quiet reminiscing about his time in Chicago, as well as a shirtless moment for the Clooney fans, but no fanfare or firework dramatics. The episode was declared a success that underlined the brilliance and durability of ER as a whole.

British viewers can see Clooney’s return on More4 when it’s due to be broadcast on May 14. Channel 4 viewers will be able to tune in late spring, once the show begins its final run on terrestrial TV.

The last ever episode of ER will air on the NBC network in the US on April 2.

Read our latest ER review