American talk show stalwart David Letterman will return to The Late Show tonight (31MAR03) after beating a case of shingles.

The 55-year-old star had been away from his top-rated chat show since 25 February (03) after being struck down by the eye infection.

Stars such as Bruce Willis, John McEnroe and Regis Philbin had filled in for the veteran presenter during his weeks of absence.

American TV network CBS are hoping that his much-anticipated return will garner huge ratings - and have enlisted funnyman Billy Crystal as a guest to entice viewers.

Aside from a previous heart operation, Letterman had never missed an appearance in more than 20 years of presenting his show.