Graham Norton

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For other people named Graham Norton, see Graham Norton (disambiguation).
Graham Norton
Graham Norton 2004-12-04.jpg
Norton in 2004
Born Graham William Walker
(1963-04-04) 4 April 1963 (age 51)
Clondalkin, Dublin, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Education Bandon Grammar School
University College Cork
Alma mater Central School of Speech and Drama
Occupation Television and radio presenter, comedian, actor
Years active 1992–present
Employer BBC (formerly Channel 4)
Home town Bandon, County Cork, Ireland
Television So Graham Norton
V Graham Norton
The Graham Norton Effect
Graham Norton's Bigger Picture
The Graham Norton Show
Eurovision Song Contest
Would You Rather...? with Graham Norton
Partner(s) Trevor Patterson (2010–13)
Awards
BAFTA Awards
Best Entertainment Performance
2000 So Graham Norton
2001 So Graham Norton
2002 So Graham Norton
2011 The Graham Norton Show
2012 The Graham Norton Show

Graham William Walker, known by his stage name Graham Norton (born 4 April 1963),[1] is an Irish comic presenter. Based in the United Kingdom, he is the host of comedy chat show The Graham Norton Show. Previously shown on BBC Two, it took the prestigious Friday night slot on BBC One from Jonathan Ross in 2010.[2] He also presents on BBC Radio 2 and is the BBC television commentator of the Eurovision Song Contest, which led Hot Press to describe him as "the 21st century's answer to Terry Wogan."[3] Norton is known for his innuendo-laden dialogue and flamboyant presentation style, and has won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Entertainment Performance on five occasions.

In 2012, Norton sold his production company, So Television to ITV for around £17 million.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Norton was born in Clondalkin, a suburb of Dublin, but grew up in Bandon, County Cork, Ireland. His father's family were from County Wicklow, while his mother was from Belfast.[4] He was educated at Bandon Grammar School, in West Cork, and then University College, Cork (U.C.C.), where he spent two years studying English and French in the 1980s but did not complete his studies. In June 2013 he received an honorary doctorate degree from University College Cork, he occasionally mentions this in order to win on-air arguments on his BBC Radio 2 show.[5]

Norton moved to Britain and attended the Central School of Speech and Drama.[6] Upon joining Equity, he chose Norton as his stage name, which is his great-grandmother's maiden name.[4] In 1992 his stand-up comedy drag act in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as a tea-towel clad Mother Teresa of Calcutta made the press when Scottish Television's religious affairs department mistakenly thought he represented the real Mother Teresa.[7]

His first appearances in broadcasting were in the United Kingdom (rather than his native Ireland), where he had a "spot" as a regular comedian and panellist on the BBC Radio 4 show Loose Ends, when the show ran on Saturday mornings, in the early 1990s. His rise to fame began as one of the early successes of Channel 5, when he won an award for his performance as the stand-in host of a late-night TV talk show usually presented by Jack Docherty.[8][9] This was followed by a comic quiz show on Channel 5 called Bring Me the Head of Light Entertainment, which was not well received as a programme, but did further enhance Norton's individual reputation as a comic and TV host. In 1996, Norton co-hosted the late-night quiz show Carnal Knowledge on ITV with Maria McErlane.

In 1996, Norton played the part of Father Noel Furlong in three episodes ("Hell", "Flight into Terror", "The Mainland") of the Channel 4 series Father Ted, which was written by Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan (who are Irish) and was set in the West of Ireland. Father Noel Furlong was often seen taking charge of the St. Luke's Youth Group, a small church youth group.

Channel 4[edit]

After this early success, Norton moved to Channel 4 to host his own chat shows including So Graham Norton and V Graham Norton. As a performer who is not only openly gay,[10] but also camp and flamboyant, it was here that Norton's act was fully honed as a cheeky, innuendo-laden joker.

In 2003, he was the subject of controversy in the United Kingdom when, on his show on Channel 4, he made a comedic reference to the recent death of Bee Gees singer Maurice Gibb. The Independent Television Commission (the I.T.C.) investigated after complaints about this insensitivity were forwarded to it and eventually Channel 4 had to make two apologies: one in the form of a caption slide before the show, another from Norton in person.

Also in 2003, he was listed in The Observer as one of the 1000 funniest acts in British comedy (Though Norton is Irish, the bulk of his television career has been in the UK).

In the summer of 2004, Norton moved across the Atlantic to start a new venture in American television. The Graham Norton Effect debuted on 24 June 2004 on Comedy Central, and was also broadcast in the UK on BBC Three. In the midst of controversy surrounding Janet Jackson's Super Bowl performance, Norton was wary of moving into the market.[11]

BBC[edit]

Norton at 2009 BAFTA awards

In 2005, Norton moved to the BBC and began hosting the Saturday evening reality TV series Strictly Dance Fever on BBC One, as well as a new comedy chat show, Graham Norton's Bigger Picture. He also read stories some nights on the BBC children's channel CBeebies as part of Bedtime Hour.

In 2006, Norton hosted the BBC One series How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? in which Andrew Lloyd Webber tried to find a lead actress for his West End version of The Sound of Music. Norton has subsequently presented the 3 follow-up series: Any Dream Will Do in 2007, in which a group of males competed to win the role of Joseph in the West End production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; I'd Do Anything in 2008, in which Andrew Lloyd Webber seeks to find the parts of Nancy and Oliver for Sir Cameron Mackintosh's production of Lionel Bart's Oliver!; and Over the Rainbow in 2010, following a similar format to find a new Dorothy for a Wizard of Oz West end Production.

Norton hosted various other shows for the BBC during this time, including When Will I Be Famous? (2007), The One and Only (2008) and Totally Saturday (2009). Since 2007, Norton has also been a regular host of The British Academy Television Awards. On 7 July 2007, Norton presented at Live Earth and undertook a trip to Ethiopia with the Born Free Foundation to highlight the plight of the Ethiopian wolf – the rarest canid in the world. In the same year, he was the subject of an episode of the BBC1 genealogy documentary Who Do You Think You Are?.

Norton's chat show, The Graham Norton Show, began on 22 February 2007 on BBC Two. Although in a format that he had not been involved in for 4 years, it is very similar to his previous Channel 4 shows. On 6 October 2009, the show moved to BBC One, in a new one-hour format.

In May 2010, he stood in for Chris Evans' breakfast show on BBC Radio 2. Later that month, it was confirmed that he would be replacing Jonathan Ross's Saturday morning slot on the same station.

In December 2011, the panel show Would You Rather...? with Graham Norton premiered on BBC America in the time slot immediately following The Graham Norton Show. Recorded in New York, it is one of BBC America's earliest efforts at producing original programming, and is also the first panel game the channel has shown, either of British or American origin.

Radio[edit]

Norton presents a Saturday morning show on BBC Radio 2, featuring guest interviews and music. It also features a "agony aunt" section with advice from Maria McErlane and Norton, called "Grill Graham". "Tune with a Tale" is where a listener suggests playing a song with a plot, summarising the story it contains, and "I Can't Believe It's Not Better" is a feature where a listener requests a song that was previously a hit, but might be considered particularly bad now.

In January 2012, Norton asked listeners to his Radio 2 show to help find his car, shortly after it was stolen. He called it "The Great Car Hunt" and told listeners to "Keep your eyes out for it. It was filthy by the way."[citation needed]

Eurovision[edit]

Norton, along with Claudia Winkleman, hosted the first annual Eurovision Dance Contest, which was held on 1 September 2007 in London, England. The format was based on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing and the EBU's Eurovision Song Contest. Norton and Winkleman also hosted the 2008 Contest in Glasgow, Scotland.

In October 2008, it was confirmed by the BBC that Norton would replace Terry Wogan as the BBC's commetator for the UK heats of the Eurovision Song Contest, in a show to be called Your Country Needs You.

On 5 December 2008 it was announced that Norton would also take over from Wogan as the presenter of the main Eurovision Song Contest.[12] The 54th Eurovision Song Contest was held in the Olimpiyskiy (Olympic) Stadium, Moscow. on 16 May 2009.

Norton's debut jokes received some positive reviews from the British press. The Guardian noted his comments on Iceland's entry, which finished in second place, had "rooted around in a cupboard and found an old bridesmaid dress from 1987" and the Armenian singers, who finished in tenth place, were sporting traditional dress, "which would be true if you come from the village where Liberace is the mayor."[13] The Times noted his highlighting of the arrest of thirty gay rights protesters in Moscow – "heavy-handed policing has really marred what has been a fantastic Eurovision."[13]

Other[edit]

In July 2000 Graham was one of three judges of the Miss Lesbian Beauty Contest 2000 held at The Talk of London, Drury Lane. The contest was won by 42-year-old Carol Hutchins who wowed the audience with her sit-down comedy routine from a wheelchair. Graham described Carol as a "very bright, funny lady."[citation needed]

Graham Norton played Mr. Puckov in the 2006 American comedy spoof film Another Gay Movie. In 2007, Norton played Taylor in the romantic comedy film, I Could Never Be Your Woman.

Norton was involved in a high-publicity advertising campaign for the UK National Lottery as an animated unicorn, the stooge to a character based on Lady Luck (played by Fay Ripley). He has also advertised McVitie's biscuits.

In 2007, Norton featured in Girls Aloud and Sugababes' Comic Relief video for the single "Walk This Way."

In January 2009, Norton made his West End stage debut in a revival of La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse Theatre.

Since 2009, Norton has been the host of the comedy game-show Most Popular on US cable television channel WE tv.[14]

Norton currently writes an advice column in The Daily Telegraph newspaper. In October 2010, these columns were made into a book entitled Ask Graham, published by John Blake Publishing.

World records[edit]

On 7 March 2013, Norton broke the Guinness World Record for 'The Most Questions Asked on a TV Chat Show' on Comic Relief's Big Chat which raised £1,022,982.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Norton with his dog Bailey in 2006, supporting Crusaid.

Norton has stated that he felt "out of place" having been raised Protestant in a mostly Catholic Ireland, especially during the height of The Troubles. Norton took part in the TV programme Who Do You Think You Are?, to trace his ancestry. It was discovered that Norton's Walker ancestors were originally planters from Wentworth, South Yorkshire who were sent over from England in the 17th century to take over Irish land. Some members of his family had fought for the British monarchy during the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and taken part in the Carnew massacre. Another member of his family was later killed in battle by the United Irishmen. Norton said he was comforted to find out that his family had resided in Ireland for generations.[4]

In 1988, while living in London, Norton was mugged, beaten and stabbed by a group of attackers on the street. He says he lost half his blood and nearly died, and he was hospitalised for two and a half weeks. Graham has moved on from the attack and openly jokes about it on-air, although during filming of the BBC 2013 Christmas advert he, by coincidence, had to film in the spot of the attack (unbeknownst to the directors). He said he felt momentarily uneasy.[6][16]

Norton owns a holiday home in Ahakista, County Cork, which is near to where he grew up, in Bandon. The house has a private beach and overlooks Dunmanus Bay.[citation needed]

Norton has two dogs, a labradoodle called Bailey and a second dog called Madge, which he adopted from the UK charity Dogs Trust.

Norton was in a relationship with Trevor Patterson from 2010 to 2013.[17]

In 2014, Norton attacked the decision by Irish broadcaster, RTÉ, to settle out of court with opponents of gay marriage who claimed they had been defamed in an edition of the Saturday Night Show.[18]

In 2014, Norton publicly backed "Hacked Off" and its campaign toward UK press self-regulation by "safeguarding the press from political interference while also giving vital protection to the vulnerable."[19][20][21]

TV appearances[edit]

Main presenting credits[edit]

Other television credits[edit]

Year Title Character Broadcaster
1996–98 Father Ted:
  • Hell
  • Flight into Terror
  • The Mainland
Father Noel Furlong Channel 4
2001 Rex the Runt: A Crap Day Out The Plants voice BBC
Rex the Runt: Patio Osvalde Halitosis voice BBC
The Kumars at No. 42 Himself BBC
2002 Absolutely Fabulous: Gay Himself BBC
2006 The Last Ever, Ever Footballers' Wives Brendan Spunk BBC/ITV
2007 Who Do You Think You Are? Himself BBC
Saving Planet Earth
  • Saving Wolves
Himself BBC
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List Himself Bravo
Robbie the Reindeer in Close Encounters of the Herd Kind Computer voice BBC

Radio[edit]

  • Sitting in for Chris Evans May /July 2010 BBC Radio 2
  • On 2 October 2010, he began his weekly BBC Radio 2 Saturday show taking over from Jonathan Ross. The show airs from 10.00am-1.00pm and combines a mixture of music, chat and celebrity guests. The programme was nominated for a Radio Academy Award (receiving a Bronze Award in May 2014). The latest RAJAR figures show his Radio 2 show has 4.27million listeners each week.
  • 2011/12 Radio 2 Saturday mornings

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Character Production
1999 Stargay Graham Solex Canal+
2006 Another Gay Movie Mr. Puckov Luna Pictures
2007 I Could Never Be Your Woman Taylor The Weinstein Company

Stand-Up videos[edit]

  • Live at the Roundhouse (19 November 2001)

Awards[edit]

  • 1999 : Gaytime Award for Gay Entertainer of the Year
  • 2000 : BAFTA Television Award for Best Entertainment Performance – So Graham Norton
  • 2001 : BAFTA Television Award for Best Entertainment Performance – So Graham Norton
  • 2001 : RTS Television Award for Best Presenter – So Graham Norton
  • 2001 : TRIC Award TV Personality of the Year
  • 2002 : BAFTA Television Award for Best Entertainment Performance – So Graham Norton
  • 2011 : BAFTA Television Award for Best Entertainment Performance – The Graham Norton Show[22]
  • 2012 : BAFTA Television Award for Best Entertainment Performance – The Graham Norton Show

References[edit]

  1. ^ Norton, Graham. So Me. Hodder & Stoughton. p. 4. ISBN 0-340-83348-3. 
  2. ^ a b "Graham Norton sells production company So TV to ITV". BBC News. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Bootboy. "Reasons to be cheerful". Hot Press. Retrieved 20 June 2007. 
  4. ^ a b c "Graham Norton". Who Do You Think You Are?
  5. ^ "That's Dr Norton to you – comic gets honorary degree". Irish Independent. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Jones, Liz (3 September 2004). "Graham's growing pains". Evening Standard. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 
  7. ^ Turpin, Adrian. "Festival Eye". The Independent. p. 24. 
  8. ^ "Graham Norton: Naughty but nice". BBC News (BBC). Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  9. ^ Robinson, James. "Summer stand-ins steal the limelight". The Observer (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  10. ^ Cohen, Benjamin (27 April 2006)."Graham Norton: “I’m too old to be attractive to gay men”. Pink News. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  11. ^ Norton, Graham. So Me. Hodder & Stoughton. pp. 326–333. ISBN 0-340-83348-3. 
  12. ^ "Eurovision: Norton to replace Wogan". BBC Press Release (BBC). Retrieved 16 May 2009. 
  13. ^ a b "Norton's Eurovision debut reviewed". BBC News (BBC). 09:44 GMT, Sunday, 17 May 2009, 10:44 UK.
  14. ^ "Most Popular Bio: Graham Norton – WE tv". Wetv.com. 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  15. ^ "Graham Norton breaks world record and raises £1 million with Big Chat – TV News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  16. ^ Norton, Graham (2 October 2010). "Graham Norton: agony uncle". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 
  17. ^ "Graham Norton 'splits from boyfriend Trevor Patterson' after two years together as he admits to living alone". Daily Mail. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "Graham Norton 'furious' over RTE homophobia payout". BBC NEWS. 21 February 2014. 
  19. ^ "Benedict Cumberbatch, Alfonso Cuaron, Maggie Smith Back U.K. Press Regulation". Hollywoodreporter.com. 2014-03-18. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  20. ^ Ian Burrell (2014-03-18). "Campaign group Hacked Off urge newspaper industry to back the Royal Charter on press freedom - Press - Media". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  21. ^ [1][dead link]
  22. ^ "Graham Norton Nabs BAFTA TV Award". IFTN (Irish Film and Television Network). Retrieved 26 May 2011. 

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Terry Wogan
Eurovision Song Contest UK Commentator
2009–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
N/A
Eurovision Dance Contest presenter
(with Claudia Winkleman)
2007, 2008
Succeeded by
TBA