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Graham Norton

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Title: Graham Norton  
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Subject: British Academy Television Award for Best Entertainment Performance, Comic Relief, United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest, British Comedy Awards, Roger Moore
Collection: 1963 Births, Alumni of University College Cork, Bbc Radio 2 Presenters, Gay Actors, Irish Columnists, Irish Expatriates in the United Kingdom, Irish Male Comedians, Irish People of English Descent, Irish Television Talk Show Hosts, Lgbt Broadcasters, Lgbt Comedians, Lgbt Djs, Lgbt People from Ireland, Living People, People Associated with University College Cork, People Educated at Bandon Grammar School, People from Dublin (City), United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest
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Graham Norton

Graham Norton
Norton in 2004.
Born Graham William Walker
(1963-04-04) 4 April 1963
Clondalkin, Dublin, Ireland
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 (2010–2013)

Graham William Walker (born 4 April 1963), better known by the stage name Graham Norton,[1] is an Irish television and radio presenter, comedian, and actor based in the United Kingdom. He is a five-time BAFTA TV Award winner for his 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. In 2012, he sold his production company, So Television, to ITV for around £17 million.[2]


  • Early life and career 1
  • Channel 4 2
  • BBC 3
    • Radio 3.1
    • Eurovision 3.2
  • Other 4
  • World records 5
  • Personal life 6
  • TV appearances 7
    • Main presenting credits 7.1
    • Other television credits 7.2
  • Radio 8
  • Filmography 9
  • Stand-Up videos 10
  • Awards 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13

Early life and career

Norton was born in Clondalkin, a suburb of Dublin, but grew up in Bandon, County Cork, Ireland. His family are Protestant. 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 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 the United Kingdom and attended the Central School of Speech and Drama.[6] He also worked as a waiter during that time. [7] 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 as a tea-towel clad Mother Teresa of Calcutta in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe made the press when Scottish Television's religious affairs department mistakenly thought he represented the real Mother Teresa.[8]

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 panelist on the BBC Radio 4 show Loose Ends, in the early 1990s, when the show ran on Saturday mornings. 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.[9][10] 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 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

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,[11] 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 (I.T.C.) investigated after complaints about this insensitivity were received 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, Norton 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.[12]


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 three 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 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. The format 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.


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."[13]


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 commentator 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.[14] 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 10th place, were sporting traditional dress, "which would be true if you come from the village where Liberace is the mayor."[15] The Times noted his highlighting of the arrest of 30 gay rights protesters in Moscow – "heavy-handed policing has really marred what has been a fantastic Eurovision."[15]


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."

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.[16]

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

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.[17]

Personal life

Norton with his dog Bailey in 2006, supporting Crusaid.

Norton took part in the TV programme Who Do You Think You Are?, to trace his ancestry. 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. Norton eventually recovered from the attack and now 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][18]

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.

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.[19]

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.[20]

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."[21][22][23]

In October 2014, Norton released his second memoir, The Life and Loves of a He-Devil. It won in the Non-Fiction Book of the Year category at the 2014 Irish Book Awards.[24]

In 2014, he was named in the top 10 on the World Pride Power list.[25]

TV appearances

Main presenting credits

Other television credits

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


  • Just a Minute
  • Sitting in for Steve Wright August 2009 BBC Radio 2
  • 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.


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

  • Live at the Roundhouse (19 November 2001)


  • 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[26]
  • 2012 : BAFTA Television Award for Best Entertainment Performance – The Graham Norton Show


  1. ^ Norton, Graham. So Me. Hodder & Stoughton. p. 4.  
  2. ^ a b "Graham Norton sells production company So TV to ITV". BBC News. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Bootboy. "Reasons to be cheerful".  
  4. ^ a b c "Graham Norton". Who Do You Think You Are?
  5. ^ "That's Dr Norton to you – comic gets honorary degree".  
  6. ^ a b Jones, Liz (3 September 2004). "Graham's growing pains".  
  7. ^ The F Word Season 4 Episode 12
  8. ^ Turpin, Adrian. "Festival Eye".  
  9. ^ "Graham Norton: Naughty but nice".  
  10. ^ Robinson, James. "Summer stand-ins steal the limelight".  
  11. ^ Cohen, Benjamin (27 April 2006)."Graham Norton: “I’m too old to be attractive to gay men”. Pink News. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  12. ^ Norton, Graham. So Me. Hodder & Stoughton. pp. 326–333.  
  13. ^ "Norton's radio hunt for his stolen car".  
  14. ^ "Eurovision: Norton to replace Wogan". BBC Press Release (BBC). Retrieved 16 May 2009. 
  15. ^ a b "Norton's Eurovision debut reviewed". BBC News (BBC). 09:44 GMT, Sunday, 17 May 2009, 10:44 UK.
  16. ^ "Most Popular Bio: Graham Norton – WE tv". 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  17. ^ "Graham Norton breaks world record and raises £1 million with Big Chat – TV News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  18. ^ Norton, Graham (2 October 2010). "Graham Norton: agony uncle".  
  19. ^ "Graham Norton 'splits from boyfriend Trevor Patterson' after two years together as he admits to living alone".  
  20. ^ "Graham Norton 'furious' over RTE homophobia payout". BBC NEWS. 21 February 2014. 
  21. ^ "Benedict Cumberbatch, Alfonso Cuaron, Maggie Smith Back U.K. Press Regulation".  
  22. ^ 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. 
  23. ^ [2] Archived 2 March 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "The Life and Loves of a He Devil". Irish Book Awards. 14 December 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  25. ^ "World Pride Power List 2014". The Guardian. 
  26. ^ "Graham Norton Nabs BAFTA TV Award". IFTN ( 

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Terry Wogan
Eurovision Song Contest UK Commentator
Preceded by
Eurovision Dance Contest presenter
(with Claudia Winkleman)
2007, 2008
Succeeded by
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