Actor George Clooney has reportedly agreed to return to ER, the television show that launched his career, for its final season.

Producers admitted last year they were seeking to sign up former cast members - including Clooney - to return to the Chicago-set drama for its 15th season.

And despite a denial from his publicist in March 2008, the Ocean's Eleven star will be involved in some way in ER's conclusion, according to People.

The celebrity magazine quotes a source close to the medical series as saying ER co-creator John Wells "ordered a closed set to keep Clooney’s appearance under wraps".

It is not yet known how many episodes he will film and neither NBC nor Clooney's representatives would offer any comment on the rumours.

ER has the Hollywood writers' strike to thank for being given one final fling, with the show renewed by NBC after the Writers' Guild of America's (WGA) industrial action prevented the development of any new series.

With the end of the long-running emergency room saga nearing, executive producers Wells and David Zabel planned to tempt some fan favourites into returning to the hospital corridors.

It was confirmed last year that Noah Wyle (Dr Carter) is to return for four episodes while Goran Visnjic is likely to reappear as Dr Kovac.

And even Anthony Edwards, whose character died in 2002, will return in flashback form for an episode entitled Heal Thyself.

A Clooney return had seemed the least likely, according to his publicist Stan Rosenfield.

"He is on record as saying he is not coming back," he said in 2008. "It is something he has already done."

Clooney left the show in 1999 but returned as Dr Doug Ross in a shock cameo the following year.

But according to Rosenfield, the Oscar-nominee is now "busy making movies".

A five-time Emmy winner, ER has also won a Golden Globe - for Edwards in 1998 - and took the prize for best performance by a cast in a drama series for four consecutive years at the Screen Actors Guild awards.

22/01/2009 10:44:47