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Graham Norton

Graham Norton in 2004
Born Graham William Walker
4 April 1963 (1963-04-04) (age 46)
Clondalkin, Dublin, Ireland
Occupation Actor, comedian and television presenter
Years active 1992 - present

Graham William Walker (born 4 April 1963[1]) is an Irish actor, comedian and television presenter. He is known by his stage name Graham Norton. Currently best known for his BBC One (previously BBC Two) comedy chat show The Graham Norton Show.

Contents

Career

Norton was born in Clondalkin, a suburb of Dublin but grew up in Bandon, County Cork, Ireland. He dropped out of University College Cork to move to San Francisco. He trained as a drama teacher at the Central School of Speech and Drama. 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.[2]

His first appearances in broadcasting were in his spot as a regular 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 talk show usually presented by Jack Docherty. This was followed by a comic quiz show called Bring Me the Head of Light Entertainment, which wasn't well received as a programme but did further enhance Norton's individual reputation. He also took part in the short-lived quiz show Carnal Knowledge with Maria McErlane.

Norton also played the part of Father Noel Furlong in 3 episodes of the Channel 4 series Father Ted in 1996; where he was often seen taking charge of a small youth folk-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, but also naturally 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 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 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 50 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. In the midst of controversy surrounding Janet Jackson's Super Bowl performance, Norton was wary of moving into the market.[3] The Graham Norton Effect got away with the same racy, suggestive jokes that made his previous shows so popular, but failed to attract an audience.

BBC

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

He played Mr. Puckov in the 2006 comedy spoof Another Gay Movie. In the summer of that year he hosted the 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. He also presented the follow ups Any Dream Will Do, 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, and I'd Do Anything, in which Andrew Lloyd Webber seeks to find the part of Nancy and Oliver for Sir Cameron Mackintosh's production of Lionel Bart's Oliver!. On 7 August, Norton recorded a pilot for a new BBC chat/game show My Lovely Audience, which is a mix of games and celebrity chats.

Eurovision Dance Contest

Norton hosted the first annual Eurovision Dance Contest alongside Claudia Winkleman which was held in London, United Kingdom on 1 September 2007. 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.

Eurovision Song Contest

In October 2008, it was confirmed by the BBC that Norton would replace Terry Wogan as the BBC's presenter 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 Terry Wogan as the presenter of the main Eurovision Song Contest.[4] The 54th Eurovision Song Contest was held in the Olimpiyskiy (Olympic) Stadium, Moscow on 16 May 2009.

Norton's jokes during his debut received some positive reviews from the British media. 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".[5] 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".[5] His comment “The bad news is you’re about to watch Albania. She’s only 17 so please bear that in mind. Where was her mother? Why didn’t she step in and say no?” which was made just before a young performer from Albania was set to take the stage dubbed an insult by many, sent ripples of outrage through not only Albania, but also the Albanian population in Britain. There was even a petition circling the net calling for a formal apology from Norton. The petition, which called his comment “very rude and insulting,” had drawn over 1,000 signatures.[6]

Other

Norton has been involved in a high-publicity advertising campaign for the 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.

Norton caused controversy on 7 October 2006, when he described cocaine and ecstasy as "fantastic".[7]

In 2007, Norton featured in Girls Aloud and Sugababes' Comic Relief video for "Walk This Way". He also hosted the BBC One variety show When Will I Be Famous? His new chat show, The Graham Norton Show, began on 22 February 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.

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

Personal life

Norton is openly gay.[8] He had a five year relationship with American writer Scott Michaels of Dearly Departed Tours in Hollywood.[8] In 2002 Norton had a relationship with Mr Gay UK Carl Austin.[9]

In 1988 he was mugged, stabbed in the chest and left for dead on the streets.[10][11] Norton also suffers from vitiligo, a skin disease.[12]

Immediately after hosting the BAFTAs in 2009, he said he returned home only to fall down his stairs and break two ribs.[13]

TV appearances

Main presenting credits

Other television credits

Year Title Character Broadcaster
1996–1998 Father Ted:
  • Hell
  • Flight into Terror
  • The Mainland
Father Noel Furlong Channel4
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
2007 Who Do You Think You Are? 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

Filmography

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

Videography

DVD Releases

  • Graham Norton - Live At The Roundhouse (2001)
  • Graham Norton: For Your Pleasure - Best Bits And More! (2002)
  • The Best Of So Graham Norton (2002)
  • The Graham Norton Effect (2004)

Awards

  • 1999 : Gaytime awards, Gay Entertainer of the Year
  • 2000, 2001, 2002 : BAFTA Best Entertainment Performance for So Graham Norton
  • 2001 : RTS Television Award Best Presenter for So Graham Norton
  • 2001 : TRIC Award TV Personality of the Year

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Norton, Graham. So Me. Hodder & Stoughton. p. 4. ISBN 0340833483. 
  2. ^ Adrian Turpin (1992-08-20). "Festival Eye". The Independent. p. 24. 
  3. ^ Norton, Graham. So Me. Hodder & Stoughton. pp. 326–333. ISBN 0340833483. 
  4. ^ "Eurovision: Norton to replace Wogan". BBC. 12 December 2008. http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2008/12_december/05/eurovision.shtml. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  5. ^ a b Norton's Eurovision debut reviewed - BBC News - 09:44 GMT, Sunday, 17 May 2009 10:44 UK
  6. ^ Graham Norton Albanian Eurovision Insult
  7. ^ "Graham Norton: 'BBC defends Norton drug comments'". bbc.co.uk. 7 October 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/5416220.stm. Retrieved 2007-11-29. 
  8. ^ a b Victoria Kennedy (2006-04-01). "Exclusive: My Story, By Graham Norton". Daily Mirror. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=16889857&method=full&siteid=115875&headline=my-heart-s-broken-but-i-will-survive--name_page.html. 
  9. ^ Claire Collins (2002-06-09). "So.. Graham Norton falls for Mr Gay UK". The People. p. 23. 
  10. ^ Neil Leslie (1999-05-19). "I was stabbed then left to die by muggers; comic Graham tells of terror on street". The Mirror. p. 11. 
  11. ^ Ellen, Barbara (2007-11-18). "Barbara Ellen interviews Graham Norton". The Observer. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/nov/18/bbc.television. Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  12. ^ "Lynn Barber interviews Graham Norton". Guardian. 2001-10-28. http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2001/oct/28/features.magazine7. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  13. ^ Norton breaks ribs after Baftas BBC News

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Sir 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







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